Academics In Childhood: 4 Reasons Why Early Education Is Essential

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Guest Blogger, Kara Masterson

Rhian Evans Allvin, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, explains; “There’s an explosion of activity in the first five years of life, more profound than any future years. If we can capitalize on that and maximize the support and learning opportunities, then we really stand a good chance of setting young children on a trajectory of success.” That is just part of the reason why early education is so important. Here are a few other reasons why this kind of education is essential.

Improved Social Skills

Learning how to interact with others is a skill that will benefit children throughout their lifetime. Within an early education setting, students socialize with other students. They learn to communicate, play, and take turns. Young children are also able to adjust better when they start Kindergarten because they have already been around other children in a structured environment. Oral language provides a foundation for literacy development and children have the chance to practice oral language when they are around others.

Enhanced Attention Spans

Children who receive early education will also have many opportunities to practice increasing their attention span. Daily schedules, story time, and classroom activities allow students to enhance their attention span by escalating their interest and level of engagement. Students have opportunities for structured and unstructured play where they are learning to attend to one thing at a time. Focusing on specific tasks is good preparation for the school years.

Develop Cognitive Skills

Children receiving an early education will learn the basics in all academic areas including reading, math, and science. Schools such as Miniapple International Montessori School provide opportunities for children to learn at their own pace through a discovery learning model. The effects of developing cognitive skills early on have shown to benefit children later on in school. In fact, children in early-learning programs show higher levels of achievement throughout school. Alternatively, if a child does have learning issues; they can be identified early.

Early Literacy Skills

Early literacy skills prepare children for so much more than just Kindergarten. Learning letters by sight and sound, phonological awareness, print awareness and vocabulary is quite literally the foundation that students build upon for the rest of their lives as readers. It is widely known that literacy skills are developed early in life and correlate greatly with school achievement. Furthermore, children who have limited experiences with language and literacy will have more difficulty learning to read.

Young children are sponges that soak up all that is happening in the world around them. Early education gives children the opportunity to practice social skills, enhance attention spans, develop cognitive skills, and teach early literacy skills. All children can benefit from early learning opportunities.

5 Steps Every Parent Should Do Before Bringing Their Child to the Doctor

Taking your child to the doctor can be incredibly overwhelming.  Children can often become frightened and anxious with what will occur. They may not fully understand what will happen and why. The unfamiliar environment, medical team, or previous clinical experience may increase their fears and make it that much more difficult.

As a parent of two little ones, I use my skills as a child life specialist to help prepare them for what they will experience. It helps calm their nerves and mine.

Here are five easy steps that you can follow to get through the doctor visit, feeling confident and comfortable.

1. Get the Facts

Call your pediatrician ahead of time to find out exactly what will occur at the visit. Do they need a vaccination, blood test or urine sample? The more information you have than the better you are to explain.

2. Be Honest and Validate

Children need to feel that they can trust you. They will look to you for the answers and support. Let them know that they have a doctor appointment coming up. Help them remember by bringing up the last time they were at the office. Was it a routine checkup? Sick visit? How will this appointment be similar or different?

If they ask if they will get a shot, be honest. You can tell them, “Yes, you will be getting a shot. I know that you don’t like them but I will be there to help you get through it.” Remember to validate and normalize their feelings. They don’t want to hear, “It’s just a little pinch or big boys/girls don’t cry.” The reality is that it does hurt, adults don’t like them either, but as parents we know the importance of the vaccination.

3. Books and Medical Play 

Reading a book about going to the doctor is a great start in preparing them. “It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to expect when going to a doctor visit” is a book that I published to help explain all the steps, including a blood test and vaccination. It is a social story and can be used for children at all developments.

After you have read a book, than let your child explore with medical play. Use a play doctor kit filled with pretend and real materials, such as bandages, syringes, gauze, tape and rubber bands. Have them choose their favorite doll or stuffed animal and explore with the doctor kit. Give them some time to play on their own. What role are they playing? How are they using the materials? Are they asking questions or quiet and focused?

After they have become comfortable with the doctor kit, than go through each step that they will experience at their checkup. Use simple language in explaining what will happen and why. Think about explaining the steps using their five senses. They will be able to have a better understanding and process what will happen.

4. Coping Strategies

While you are playing or talking about what will occur, offer them choices and coping strategies. Do they want to sit on your lap in a therapeutic position or sit by themselves? Do they want to watch or look away? Do they want to ask and answer questions or have you be their voice? The more choices they have, than the more control they will feel.

It can be difficult for kids to relax their body when they are very upset. Practice deep breathing, with bubble blowing or pretending to blow out birthday candles. This is a great technique to use when they are receiving a vaccination or blood test. Envisioning that they are some place else, listening to music, playing an I-Spy game, holding a comfort item or singing are also different ideas. What do they want to choose?

5. Packing a Coping Kit

They now know what to expect and have made choices in ways to help distract and cope with the procedures. Give them some time to pack their own coping kit. They can pack the bag with comfort items, toys, snacks and even their own character bandages. This is a great way to keep them entertained while waiting for the doctor and to decrease anxiety during the procedures.

Remember to validate their feelings, use supportive language and let them choose a bravery item or treat for getting through the exam.

It’s Time For Your Checkup: What to expect when going to a doctor visit is a listed resource on both the Child Life Council and Autism Speaks website. It is made available in paperback and digital format through Amazon. Get your copy today!

It's Time For Your Checkup