Early childhood is a vague period of development that means different things in different contexts. In terms of early childhood education, this refers to children up to and including the age of eight. The first eight years of a child’s life are marked by more growth and changes than the child will ever again experience naturally within the same span of time. It is crucial that early childhood educators understand the unique complexities of the age groups they work with specifically. This article will detail each stage of early childhood and the role of educators within each stage.
Birth to Two
People do not normally think of newborns and infants requiring education. However, there are entire degree programs devoted to producing early childhood educators who specialize in this stage. Think about everything that parents hope to see their children learn during their first two years of life: emotional regulation, social skills, motor skills from holding up their heads to walking, first words, and the list goes on and on. These tasks come somewhat naturally to infants, but they emerge from the process quickly and with more confidence when they have regular access to people trained in supporting them through it, according to Zero to Three.
Three to Four
The next stage of early childhood development happens between the ages of three and six. This phase of early childhood education is commonly known as preschool. Preschool prepares children cognitively, emotionally, and socially for entering school. If you belong to a culture that you would like your children exposed to, there are many culture-based preschools that incorporate all of the other aspects for successful learning at this stage, according to EdSource.
Five to Eight
The final stage of early childhood is marked by the entry into elementary school. Early childhood educators of this age group focus on laying a core intellectual foundation on which children will build the remainder of their academic careers. Elementary school teachers are also responsible for guiding children through the processes of developing strong behavioral and social skills. This is also the time when most childhood mental health and learning challenges begin to present, so elementary school teachers must be prepared to provide or incorporate these children the unique services they need in order to experience academic success and rich social experiences. For most children, school days are their first exposures to spending long and consistent periods of time with adults other than family.
Early childhood is a dynamic period for young humans. It requires academic services tailored to the needs and experiences unique to each stage of development. Whether you are a parent, interested in becoming a parent, or are considering a career in early learning education, you now have a basic understanding with which to make some important decisions. Children are our future, and that future begins with early childhood education.