Childcare has become an integral support system for parents when it comes to raising their children.
The impact of early childhood education and care has a direct and paramount influence on a child’s growth and development. We take a closer look in this week’s blog post.
The impact of early childhood education and care
“The early years of human development establish the basic architecture and function of the brain.”
– J. Fraser Mustard
The role of early childcare education on a child’s development has become more of a talking point as the childcare industry has seen steady growth over the past several decades.
Early childhood care covers various aspects of a child’s development. We cover each below:
Physical development helps children understand how their body can move and allows them to learn how to use their muscles and body parts. Active play allows children to test their own abilities and develop physical movement and skills.
Physical development can also be referred to as gross motor skills.
Children are experimenting and learning how to control their motor skills from the moment they are born. Think of the involuntary reaction of holding your finger in their hand when you offer it to them, or attaching to a breast or bottle when it’s time to feed.
Fine motor skills
Throughout the first few months of their lives, babies are trying to form connections between their brains and their body movements through fine motor skills that require precision: think simply pointing to a picture in a book, holding a small object, colouring (or perhaps scribbling!), or playing with building blocks.
Gross motor skills
Gross motor skills refer to physical skills related to larger or whole-body movements. Examples include running, hopping, and jumping (which predominantly requires the strength of the lower half of their body), and throwing and catching (upper body).
“The interplay of the developing brain with the environment is the driving force of development.”
– Clyde Hertzman
Interacting with others in a different environment can help children learn fundamental social skills that are the basis of adult interaction and socialisation.
Social skills include:
- Play skills
- Conversation skills
- Emotional skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Body language
Social skills encompass the skills we use every day to interact and communicate with others.
Early experiences – that is, as early as pre- and perinatal – can deeply affect the future emotional development of a child.
Humans are born as natural communicators but we have all learnt how to express and manage our emotions over time.
When we are young, we are unsure how to express emotion and most significantly how to read others’ emotions. Emotional development through early childcare education helps children learn why they may be feeling certain emotions, how they can manage their feelings, and how to recognise other people’s feelings.
Learning through play
Learning through play is an important tactic children naturally engage in through formal early education. Unstructured play contributes the development of both social skills and motor skills.
Through more structured play, children will also learn how to:
- Listen to and follow rules
- Manage their emotions when they win or lose
- Have fun with other children
- Understand how different activities and outcomes can instigate different emotions
During play, it is an educator’s role to:
- Identify, manage, and resolve conflict
- Ensure children are safe at all times
- Include all children
- Let children lead
- Offer guidance
What you might have noticed through each aspect covered above is that each is not independent from the other: they all tend to overlap which perfectly illustrates how early childcare education is a holistic developmental process.
The growth of the childcare industry in Australia
The growth of the childcare industry has been influenced by three major factors.
- An earlier return to the workforce (as well as a reliance on two incomes from both parents)
- A rising retirement age (making it harder to get grandma or grandpa to babysit!)
- A mini baby boom (Australia’s rising birth rate will result in a 35% surge in the childcare industry over the next five years)
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Think of childcare as the first piece of a domino effect:
- Children start their education through early childhood care, which helps them make a better transition to school
- In turn, this helps them achieve optimum learning outcomes throughout primary and secondary school years
- This gives them the opportunity to strive for improved higher education, employment, and health
You could be an integral part of this process as an early learning educator or childcare worker!
If you’re reading this blog post, it’s likely that you have some interest in childcare and the industry.
- Have you been thinking about studying childcare?
- Can you see yourself working as an early learning educator in a local childcare or family daycare centre?
- Are you a recent school-leaver trying to determine your passion, or are you after a career change?