Early childhood education: An introduction
Many young families in Australia may ask the question, “What truly is early childhood education?” Sure, we know the overall idea that it involves teaching children at a young age, but what really does it mean and what are the benefits of early childhood education?
At Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre, we like to feel we are there through every step to answer every question a parent might have. To us, no question is silly. In fact, we often find parents are shocked at how many people are asking the same questions but unsure whom to ask and how.
We like to cut it down simply and then really educate on the benefits of early childhood education and the types of early education available, so you can make the best decision.
Early childhood is incredibly important for the development of our little ones to help shape them into little individuals who contribute to the world they live in.
But first things first, what is early childhood education?
Simply put, early childhood education is the official term for formal or educational programs that help teach children at an early age (typically 0-8). During early childhood, a child’s brain is highly sensitive to the environment around them, and they continue to grow emotionally, physically, and socially.
Why is Early Childhood Education important?
A child needs a stimulative environment that encourages growth and supports sustainable development goals, focused on the development of critical development milestones, skills, and key concepts. This is when early childhood education comes along.
Early childhood education helps your child learn social-emotional skills, numeracy, and literacy whilst encouraging critical thinking. These are all important skills that are found within a well-rounded education that targets learning and development to prepare them for the future.
At this age, children are dependent on their environment including their parents, daycare providers, family members, and friends. They are incredibly impressionable, and their minds are like a sponge absorbing up all the information from their surroundings and learning through what they see, their interactions, and their experiences. It truly is incredible, but this is why early education is important and beneficial.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education
The purpose of Early Childhood Education is to provide children with strategies that help them develop the emotional, social, and cognitive skills needed to become lifelong learners. The Zero to Three Foundation considers the following skills to be the most important for young learners to master:
Helping brain development in young children
We’ve all heard the saying “A baby’s brain is like a sponge,” and in many respects this is true. An amazing fact is that babies are born ready to learn, absorbing all the environment around them. It is no surprise when we think about how more than one million neural connections form every second during the first few years of their life!
A little science lesson. We’re all about educating here at Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre!
The vision and hearing pathways develop first in a child, which is then followed by early language skills and higher cognitive functions with a child’s vocabulary often quadrupling between ages two and four.
Why is this important when talking about Early Childhood Education?
Well, how a child’s brain grows and is strongly influenced by their surrounding environment and social interactions and connections. Every interaction is a learning opportunity, not just practising their vocal skills but also their social, cognitive, and emotional skills. These connections help a child understand the world around them, and as their understanding grows, so too does their understanding of social behaviours and the importance of connection. A child’s connections become more complex over time, from a baby dependent on their parent for social stimulation and emotions through learning facial expressions to the development of positive learning behaviours and social skills at a later stage.
Research has shown that Early Childhood Education plays an important role in a young child’s brain development.
To help reach higher levels of social skills and educational success, schools should be equipped with quality preschool programs and learning opportunities that develop and inspire their social, cognitive, and emotional learning further.
Early childhood education and Montessori Childcare encourages children to share and play with their peers. The social skills they develop in this early stage can help your child understand how to develop friendships and relationships throughout their life.
Between the ages of 3 to 5, they will start to develop important interpersonal qualities such as understanding, showing empathy, and taking into consideration the feelings of those around them. During these connections, they will learn about how to interact, cooperate, and play with their peers, and they may even have a “best friend.”
Starting childcare is one of the most critical phases of a child’s life and sometimes the most daunting. For most children, starting daycare will be their first time apart from their parents and what they know.
However, starting childcare is an exciting time full of new experiences, educational material, and a new community. Navigating a new environment, through positive experiences and positive reinforcement can help build a child’s confidence and independence by exploring their identity and passion, and developing self-regulation skills.
Demonstrating healthy methods of self-regulation can help children understand who they are and the boundaries of relationships including concentrating, sharing, and taking turns.
Learning new routines
Adapting and accepting new routines is also part of your child’s development and growth. Routines can help a child feel secure within their environment and can help both their emotional and cognitive development. It’s very normal for children (and parents) to have feelings of anxiety when they first start childcare. It takes children time to get used to their new routines, build positive relationships with their educators and peers, and understand that their new environment is a fun, safe, and happy place.
By attending early education and care and establishing a routine with a child knowing what is expected of them, the situation and the environment can help manage separation anxiety and reduce problematic behaviour or tantrums.
Your child will start enjoying all the sounds, smells, people, and environment around them and start having fun and feeling safe. They will start to realise that it is a safe, comfortable and stimulating environment through repetition, and a mix of outdoor and indoor activities to accommodate their attention spans and encourage their developmental stages.
They will start to feel safe and secure with their own schedule, and the Montessori childcare centre will begin to feel like a second home.
Developing language and literacy skills
It is no secret that language provides the foundation for the development of literacy skills and communication. Through language, expanding their vocabulary and learning to read and write, a child can discover an understanding of words, and meanings to make connections between what they have read and their own life experiences. They can explore texts from a range of perspectives, share an enjoyment of language, and engage with words, sentences, and pictures to learn more about the world around them.
Learning mathematics and numeracy skills
Numeracy and mathematical skills add up to a great life skill for children to learn. Solving mathematical problems challenges a child to think strategically, investigate solutions, and face challenges. Reflective thinking strategies that consider all outcomes and learning from mistakes, if previous attempts are unsuccessful, is a great lesson to learn accomplished through instructive play and experiential learning.
Problem-solving, thinking and feeding natural curiosity
Children naturally have a curiosity to know how things work. The question “But why?” is often asked, which is great as it shows a child is inquisitive and wants to learn. Through both literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving, a child will understand how things work, how they can approach certain tasks in everyday experience, and comprehend concepts such as maths and problem-solving needed for school and life.
Getting a sense of sensorial skills
Sensorial learning stimulates a child’s five senses; taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. It allows children to use their senses to explore and understand the world around them.
Through sensory learning, a child learns how to use a range of tools, techniques, and resources to explore the natural and built environment around them during play.
Children are encouraged to manipulate, take apart, and reconstruct toys or learning material given to them to gain information and explore their purpose and function.
Through Montessori Sensorial activities, children develop the following skills that link to the EYLF:
The sensorial area in a Kynd Montessori classroom focuses on lessons and activities that help develop the five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. The lessons and activities provided in the sensorial area of the classroom help children clarify, classify, and understand the world around them.
Practical life skills help a child develop from a young child to a young adult and then to a contributing member of society. Demonstrating awareness of others’ needs and being open to challenges whilst taking considerable risks are all skills that will benefit a child later in life.
Approaching and exploring new situations and making choices or decisions to navigate new environments will help a child build self-confidence, self-esteem and self-control.
Self-confidence is an important life lesson to learn. It also helps a child want to learn, as when they feel competent in their ability to believe in themselves, they are more willing to tackle obstacles and new challenges. Confidence is also important for social challenges such as healthy competition, sharing, playing, and making friends.
Another great practical life skill is self-control. Self-control is the ability to manage and express emotions in a healthy way, learning to cooperate and cope with frustration or resolve conflicts.
Care for the Environment
Caring for those around us and the environment helps us positively contribute to the world we live in. An Early Childhood Education that not only helps with academic skills but also increases a child’s knowledge of the importance of respecting and caring for their natural and constructed environments is crucial. Through outside play and exploration, a child can observe, respond, and create a relationship and connection with nature. Demonstrating respect for animals, plants, and places and taking responsibility for their own actions (such as picking up after the litter) is important for the education of our future generation.
What makes a good early childhood education program?
Enrichment inside and outside the classroom.
A great early childhood education offers a dynamic, enriching, carefully planned curriculum that challenges and inspires a child to grow both their skills and their passion.
A great programme will incorporate art, literacy skills, numeracy skill, experiences, play, and exploration.
Look for a kindergarten program that motivates your child’s passion to explore inside and outside of the classroom. A child’s mind needs to expand, to be free, and to see the wonders of the world. School programmes (whether inside or outside school hours) should feed this development. Developmentally unstructured (but monitored) playtime is essential for children at the kindergarten level and adds to their experience. During this time children are free to play, spend time socialising and explore their interests. This is also a great opportunity for you to get involved in the community and ask if there are any parental engagement programmes.
A balanced curriculum
A balanced curriculum has explorative play, and strong social/emotional programs but also provides time for academic learning. During these programs, children should learn problem-solving, independence, and teamwork. Toddlers require stimulation, patience, and energy and thrive in an active, social environment with their peers. During your child’s developmental stage, they are starting to both understand, navigate, and test the world around them and comprehend where they fit within it. A well-rounded breadth of early childhood education programs focuses on the child’s whole development and can be crucial for their mental, environmental, and social development, as they start to grow their character, self-esteem, and self-awareness.
Montessori is an education for independence, preparing not just for school but for life. – Dr Maria Montessori
At Kynd Montessori Preschool, our caring team respects the needs of every child, ensuring they feel safe, secure, and valued within our personalised learning environment. As teamwork is a vital life skill, we embrace inclusivity and interactivity. We also encourage children to be caring in their social interactions with peers, within both indoor and outdoor play.
Childcare ratio, staff retention, and personalised learning
A tailored curriculum and class size go hand-in-hand. It can be the difference between a good and an amazing school experience and can help students engage more academically and socially. One of the utmost important parts of a child’s learning is ensuring they feel valued, appreciated, and listened to. Research has shown that a lower child-to-carer ratio and good staff retention are essential in ensuring every child’s needs are met, not just on an educational, but also, on an emotional level. Be attentive to class size.
At Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre, we choose to have smaller class sizes to increase 1:1 interaction time between educator and child. The more time we put into our children, the greater they thrive in their creativity and social adjustment. The ability to adapt to the ever-changing complexities and problems of life is seen as a predictor of future schooling and life success. We feel that every child’s experience is important, so we use a 5:1 Toddlers to Educators 10:1 Preschools to Educators. This ensures there are only 29 places for 10 toddlers and 19 preschoolers with 8 qualified teachers with decades of experience so that your child can have personalised, individualistic learning and receive the attention they deserve.
Seek enthusiastic teachers that inspire play and fun
One of the most important parts of choosing the right kindergarten program for your child is the teachers. Teachers make a school. Sure, ensuring all the needs are met academically is important, but that also extends to the teachers. Look for a kindergarten teacher that thinks creatively, encourages creativity, and is committed to furthering your child’s growth. What’s more, look for a school committed to furthering its teachers’ education. Once again, it’s important to have the spirit of a learning community that comes together to create a whole network that sets the foundations and support to tackle all the obstacles, anxieties, and development stages.
Learning should be fun!
You want to find the right early childhood education program and environment where the child feels happy, involved, and experiences the joy of learning. Ensure the program stimulates your child socially, mentally, and academically through role-playing, team building, and outdoor play.
At Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre, our education materials and curriculum encourage both active, explorative, and inquisitive learning, allowing them to engage in activities they may not have access to at home and instil confidence at an early age.
Not only is outdoor play beneficial for the physical health of a child but also the emotional and mental well-being. Montessori Childcare centres actively encouraged outdoor play and engagement, and typically offer more outdoor space than daycare centres.
At Kynd, outdoor play is emphasised and embedded within our programs and curriculum. We believe it is important for a child to interact with nature and enjoy the explorations of the outdoors through outside activities. All through a caring and safe environment.
Kynd Montessori and EYLF: Supporting the transition to school and beyond
Our learning curriculum incorporates both the Montessori Method and Early Years Framework. Based on individual needs, each child has their own program which fosters development and positively challenges them.
Our centre has been created specifically to cater to the needs of parents and children seeking a quality educational experience in a nurturing environment. Our Early Works Program keeps you up to date with daily reports, as well as monthly observations of your child’s progress. We also believe it is important you and your child feel included and consulted through the process and planning of the curriculum design.
What is Montessori Early Childhood Education and the Early Years Learning Framework?
Montessori Education and the Australian Government’s Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) work hand-in-hand.
They positively support a child’s learning with their unique approach that champions a child’s development to ‘Being, Belonging, and Becoming.’
Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
The EYLF is a key component of the National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care. It focuses on play-based learning strategies that are informed by a child’s passion and interests.
Early Years Learning Framework lies a specific emphasis on play-based learning and recognises the importance of communication, language, and social and emotional development.
Fundamental values of the curriculum framework are that the earliest development takes place through relationships and that children’s life is characterised by Belonging, Being, and Becoming connected by family, community, culture, and place.
EYFL offers a vision that ‘all children experience learning that is engaging and builds success for life’.
Key learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework include:
- Children develop a strong sense of well-being and identity.
- Children learn how to connect with and contribute to the world around them to become contributing members of society.
- Children are confident, which results in inquisitive and involved learners.
- Children know how to navigate social interactions and experiences and become effective communicators.
The Montessori Method of education nurtures and accommodates complete academic foundations through interest-based learning. It is designed with multiple learning styles and educational materials in mind, which makes it both versatile and diverse.
Montessori is unique in its practice, education materials, and its prepared environment (also known as the Montessori Classroom) which is unlike any standard Childcare centre in Australia.
The Montessori classroom is a carefully considered space, filled with educational materials personalised to each child’s learning style, needs, and specific stages of development. Children develop through child-led, self-paced, hands-on experiences using problem-solving skills and real-world applications.
Montessori learning outcomes include:
- Children develop independence, concentration, and real-life skills.
- Creativity is encouraged and self-awareness is supported.
- Children can understand and express a range of emotions, comprehend the consequences of their actions, and demonstrate awareness of others’ situations.
- Children can explore their inquisitive side and develop investigative skills. They know it is okay to ask questions and find out ways to apply a range of thinking strategies to find solutions to their problems.
- Children develop self-confidence and are encouraged to participate in physical social activities, following the rules of the games to interact with others.
- Children demonstrate care for nature and the environment and are taught about sustainability.
Kynd Early Childhood Education Programs
- Children are encouraged to connect with and contribute to their world.
Kynd’s Early Childhood Education programs nurture real-life skills, champion an appreciation for diversity, and instil strong social skills that empower children to positively contribute to the world in which they belong.
- Inspire a strong sense of well-being and identity.
Kynd’s Early Childhood Educations programs help develop a child’s sense of self, well-being, and confidence in their abilities.
- Set strong academic foundations and create confident and involved learners.
The prepared Montessori environment is designed to encourage freedom of choice to empower children to create and direct their own learning based on their interests.
- Create effective communication and social skills
Our play-based learning and balanced curriculum nurture the development of effective communication, literacy, problem-solving, and social skills.
Our early childhood education programs include:
- Practical Life
- Sensorial Development
- Arts and Craft
- Culture and Geography
- Early Years Learning Framework
- Munch and Move.
We offer our programs for toddlers (2-3 years) and preschool (3-6yrs). We will continue our support for whatever stage your child is at. Our community is just that: A community for you and your child to be a part of throughout their education and life.
“At Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre, a love of learning will not only guide your child through their transition into and during their school years but into their adult life.”-Kynd
Kynd Early Childhood Education Programs for Toddlers (2-3yrs)
- Identification of common objects, naming colours, and naming body parts.
- Numeral recognition and rote counting.
- Speaking in sentences and expressing thoughts and feelings.
- Physical activity participation.
- Ability to use the pincer grip for writing and drawing.
- Demonstration of self-confidence and interacting appropriately with others.
- Physical activity participation.
- Ability to use the pincer grip for writing and drawing.
Kynd Early Childhood Education Programs for pre-school (3-6yrs)
- Formation of individual letters and numbers.
- Numeral recognition and rote counting.
- Read simple sentences and construct phonetic words.
- Write and recognise their own name.
- Awareness of the decimal system, addition and subtraction.
- Physical activity participation and following rules in games.
- Demonstration of self-confidence and interacting appropriately with others.
- Work independently and concentrate effectively.
- Respond to challenges and demonstrate problem-solving skills.
Kynd Curriculum: Our approach is backed by the Montessori learning approach
Our learning curriculum is a combination of the Montessori Method and the Early Years Framework. Each child receives their own program based on their individual needs, to foster development, and positively challenge them.
We teach children to become independent learners that trust in their own abilities.
The Montessori approach assists children to become:
One of our most vital teaching tools comes from observation without judgement. Skilled observation involves “following the child”: we study the habits of the child, define their needs and assist them in finding their strengths and capabilities
Respecting the Child
The child is assured of their own abilities by the Montessori teacher. By the teacher entrusting the child with appropriate decision-making challenges, they grow to learn from their own mistakes and develop a sense of judgement whilst respecting others.
Montessori learning programs are personalised to each child, based on their individual stage of development, interests and needs. Montessori learning materials guide lesson plans and are presented one-on-one based on each child’s academic progress.
At Kynd Montessori Childcare Learning Centre, we value and are committed to supporting our families and children. Our staff prepare daily reports for each child on eating, sleeping, and toileting. Monthly observations of your child’s progress are also recorded, so if there are any unexpected learning roadblocks they are addressed quickly.