By Clarissa Louw, Headmistress of @Sandton-Kids Creche
The brain of a new-born is only 25% of its adult size, but rapidly grows in the first few years of life, forming over a million neural connections per second. This period of rapid brain development is crucial for a child’s future learning, behaviour, and health, and quality early education and nurturing can help maximize their potential. During the first five years in a child’s development, their experiences play a major role in shaping their development, so quality early education and nurturing can help maximize their potential.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres play a vital role in preparing children for school and promoting their physical, mental, and social development from birth to age 8, providing children with foundational skills necessary for later learning through play-based activities and experiences. Children who receive quality ECD education are more likely to have better academic and cognitive outcomes, better social-emotional development, and better self-regulation, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Why is ECD education so crucial in providing children with foundational skills they need for later learning through play-based activities and experiences? Children who receive quality ECD education are more likely to have better outcomes in academics, cognitive abilities, and social-emotional development, such as better self-regulation, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Quality early education can help fill achievement gaps and increase the likelihood of tertiary education later in life. Teachers and peer interactions in preschools are essential for a child’s emotional, social, and physical development, as these experiences shape the adult they will become.
These are some general signs that can help you determine whether an ECD centre is well run and meets all the relevant criteria:
- Qualified and trained staff: Look for centres with teachers and staff who have the proper training, certification, and experience in early childhood education.
- Safe and clean environment: Ensure that the centre has a safe, clean, and well-maintained environment that promotes children’s health and well-being.
- Age-appropriate activities and materials: Check that the centre provides a variety of age-appropriate activities and materials that support children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
- Positive interactions and relationships: Observe how teachers and staff interact with children and whether they provide supportive and nurturing interactions.
- Communication with families: A good ECD centre should have open communication with families, keeping them updated on their child’s development and progress.
- Focus on play-based learning: Good ECD centres prioritize play-based learning, as play is a crucial component of children’s development and learning.
- Flexibility and adaptation to individual needs: A good centre should be able to adapt to individual children’s needs and provide a flexible and inclusive environment.
- Regular assessments and evaluations: The centre should regularly assess and evaluate children’s progress to ensure they are on track for their developmental milestones.
Attending a quality ECD centre can have numerous benefits for a child’s development, such as boosting their eagerness to learn, social skills, self-confidence, and attention span, as well as encouraging empathy, creativity, and teamwork.
So how do you choose the right Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for your child? First you must determine your needs and priorities, take into consideration your child’s age, learning style, and any special needs they may have. The next step would be to research and compare centres. Look for centres that meet your needs and priorities and compare their offerings, location, cost, and hours of operation. Remember to check for accreditation from a recognized early childhood education organization, as this indicates they meet certain quality standards. Once you have a shortlist, visit the centre. Schedule a visit to observe the environment, the staff’s interaction with children, and the activities and materials available. Do not be afraid to ask questions during your visit about the centre’s curriculum, policies, and procedures to ensure they align with your expectations. Getting feedback from families with children who attend the centre is also a great way to establish if that particular ECD centre would be a good fit for your family. Most importantly, trust your instincts. Choose a centre that you feel comfortable with and that you believe will provide a positive experience for your child.
By following these steps, you can choose the right ECD centre for your child and ensure that they receive the best possible start in their educational journey.
In conclusion, attending a quality ECD centre can boost a child’s eagerness to learn, social skills, self-confidence, and attention span, as well as encourage empathy, creativity, and teamwork.