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THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN NIGERIA - Education - 234 Naira

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THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN NIGERIA by clemdon(: 2:40 pm On Nov 23

Simply put, a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come. In recent years, researchers have learned that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons, and is at its most receptive to learning, between birth and three years of age. In fact, the intake of new information is critical to the formation of active neural pathways (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).

Early education can play a critical role during this important developmental period. Research linking early intervention to both cognitive and socio-emotional gains has fueled the proliferation of early childhood programs since the early part of the twentieth century.

The last four decades in particular have produced many new practices and principles for use in the classroom with young children, as well as countless books, videos, and activities to enrich the home environment. Several states have announced plans to implement universal preschool programs. In the last five years, the Federal government has produced several critically important books on early childhood education (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) and has provided record contributions for the development and dissemination of effective practices.

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Early childhood is a crucial stage of life in terms of a child's physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. Growth of mental and physical abilities progress at an astounding rate and a very high proportion of learning takes place from birth to age six. It is a time when children particularly need high quality personal care and learning experiences.


The Early Stage of Education

Education begins from the moment the child is brought home from the hospital and continues on when the child starts to attend playgroups and kindergartens. The learning capabilities of humans continue for the rest of their lives but not at the intensity that is demonstrated in the preschool years. With this in mind, babies and toddlers need positive early learning experiences to help their intellectual, social and emotional development and this lays the foundation for later school success.


Early child education is about honing and molding the holistic child, which will eventually form the basis of their lifelong journey.Early childhood education is beneficial for children ages 3, 4 and 5. It's also often referred to as preschool, pre-kindergarten, day care, nursery school or early education.

No matter the name, each serves the same purpose: to prepare young children for their transition into elementary school. Sending your preschool-age child to one of these early childhood education programs can make a positive impact on her and give her a head start toward a bright future.

Early childhood education (ECE; also nursery education) is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight. Infant/toddler education, a subset of early childhood education, denotes the education of children from birth to age two.

It emerged as a field of study during the Enlightenment, particularly in European countries with high literacy rates. It continued to grow through the nineteenth century as universal primary education became a norm in the Western world. In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent public policy issue, as municipal, state, and federal lawmakers consider funding for preschool and pre-K.[3][4][5] It is described as an important period in child's development. It refers to the all-round development of a child's personality.

ECE is also a professional designation earned through a post-secondary education program. For example, in Ontario, Canada, the designations ECE (Early Childhood Educator) and RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator) may only be used by registered members of the College of Early Childhood Educators, which is made up of accredited child care professionals who are held accountable to the College's standards of practice.

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What Is So Important About Early Childhood Education?

Many people have reservations about the importance of pre-kindergarten education. This was clearly manifest in 2006 when the California legislature unsuccessfully attempted to pass a law that would make pre-school education mandatory for all children. Many Californians did not agree with the importance of using tax payer funds to fund mandatory pre-school programs, including parents desiring to educate their children themselves.

Research has shown that children enrolled in Head Start programs benefit by receiving formal education before kindergarten. According to some studies, children enrolled in these programs are more behaved and have higher IQ scores upon enrolling kindergarten than their peers without formal education. Likewise, it was shown that children enrolled in Head Start programs learned quicker than children not enrolled in these programs.

Critics of pre-kindergarten education claim the differences between children enrolled in pre-school programs and children not receiving formal education are only discernible during kindergarten, first, and second grade. During subsequent years, children who've not received formal education prior to kindergarten test at the same level and behave like their peers with pre-kindergarten formal education.

Therefore, Head Start children may be at an advantage for a couple of years, but after that, their classmates perform at similar levels. Another major problem with Head Start programs is that children qualifying for these programs usually come from families living below poverty-line, so these programs are not readily available for children from all backgrounds. However, children can receive formal education in other ways other than Head Start programs, including daycare and parents teaching their young children. Even though children in daycare programs can develop intellectually, children benefit most when parents stay at home with their children and educate them.

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The Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Children taught at an early age usually benefit in the following ways:
1. Improved social skills,
2. Less or no need for special education instruction during subsequent school years,
3. Better grades, and
4. Enhanced attention spans.

Likewise, some researchers have concluded that young children enrolled in pre-school programs usually graduate from high school, attend college, have fewer behavioral problems, and do not become involved with crime in their adolescent and young adult years.

The research detailing these benefits was completed during the 80's. In addition to benefiting children experiencing normal development, it was also shown that children with learning or other physical disabilities benefit immensely from pre-kindergarten education.

Also, children with parents highly involved in their pre-kindergarten education do not experience the same positive results from Head Start programs as children coming from homes where it's not as much an emphasis. Children taught how to speak a second language during their early developmental years are also in a better position to learn English at a young age.

However, there is not one-size fits all instruction best suited for all children. While some children benefit immensely from pre-school, it may not be the best educational setting for other children. In most cases, children benefit most by receiving educational instruction from their parents. Parents must evaluate a child's unique personality before determining which program is best suited for a child since not all programs benefit children the same way.


Being introduced to the learning process is an important step for these children. They soon embark on a whole new world of learning. These children are not only experiencing normal brain growth, but verbal and physical skills as well. Early childhood education teachers use a variety of techniques for instructing. They use lesson plans, worksheets, and even teacher resources for these young students.

In group settings, early childhood education provides kids with special skills. Children in these settings learn how to work well together, as a group or a team. This is particularly important for children without siblings at home. Goal setting is another topic that is taught through these learning programs. Children see the benefit of trying hard, focusing, and paying attention. Each of these will soon be crucial to future education years.

Other Importance of Early Childhood Education

In old days, people used to think that children don't have ability to distinguish what is right and wrong so there is no need to educate them in their early ages. However, even though it is true that they can't differentiate right or wrong, it is also true that children absorb everything what they hear and see like sponge and therefore early education is essential.

The education given in early childhood shapes foundation of the life and helps mental and academic development of child. It is very essential to recognize importance of early childhood education and how it effects to person's life.

By proving proper education in early childhood, children learn basic foundation of their whole life and also develop social, mental, and academic activities. Among many benefits of early childhood education, most fundamental reason is that education provided in five to eight years is very influential to what kind of person a child would grow up and is vital for academic and mental development of an individual.

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Effective curriculum and education in early childhood encourage and develop language skill and ability to acquire vocabulary. According to early childhood education research journal, most capacity of language skill of learning vocabulary, which is a foundation for literacy, develops by ages of three (Bouchard & Gilles, 2011). Bouchard and Gilles have studied the importance of encouraging language skills in early childhood and argued that educators who are in daycare services by age of five have lots of opportunities of stimulating practice that helps children to acquire language skills (Bouchard & Gilles, 2011).

Development in early childhood does not only affect to academic and physical activities, but also involves relationship with other people and emotional and cognitive development. People easily think children struggle to find their ego in adolescence; however children actually start to realize their identity in first eight years and inner capacity of imagination and self-image of gender roles start to develop.

In that age, they learn how to associate with friends and start to look people around them. Throughout the play and education, children learn social skills along with how to deal with others and develop their own values.

Implications of the First Three Years

During the first three years parents will be the main influence in the child’s learning experience and education. What parents do and expose their children to have a vast impact on the development of the child. Parents sometimes forget that an interested parent can have a tremendous impact on a child’s education at any age. If the parents choose to participate in a Mothers and Toddlers group or child-care arrangements, including family babysitting or center-based child care, these all have the potential to provide high-quality, individualized, responsive, and stimulating experiences that will influence the child’s learning experience.

With this in mind, a child in a negative environment could also result in negative effects as well. This fact makes it essential that the environment that the child is placed in during these early years be as positive and intellectually stimulating as possible. Very strong relationships are imbedded in everyday routines that familiar caregivers provide. It is the primary caregiver that a child learns to trust and looks to for security and care.

Speech development is one of the first tools that a child will demonstrate in his/her lifelong education. Wordlessly at first, infants and toddlers begin to recognize familiar objects and to formulate the laws that systematically govern their properties. With encouragement through books and interaction, toddlers soon pick up vocabulary.

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Learning through play

A child exploring comfortably due to having a secure attachment with caregiver.
Early childhood education often focuses on learning through play, based on the research and philosophy of Jean Piaget, which posits that play, meets the physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social needs (PILES) of children.

Children's curiosity and imagination naturally evoke learning when unfettered. Learning through play will allow a child to develop cognitively.[14] Thus, children learn more efficiently and gain more knowledge through activities such as dramatic play, art, and social games.

Importance of Play

Child development experts agree that play is very important in the learning and emotional development of all children. Play is multi-faceted. Although it should be a fun experience for the child, often many skills can be learned through play. Play helps children learn relationship and social skills, and develop values and ethics, Play should always be considered an essential part of a child’s early education.

Functional play helps children to develop motor and practice skills. This kind of play is normally done with toys or objects that are stackable, can be filled with water or sand or playing outdoors. Water play or sand play is a favorite amongst pre-school children and a valuable teaching tool. This type of play can make up about 50% of the type of play those toddlers through 3year-old children practice.

Constructive play is characterized by building or creating something. Toys that encourage this type of play are simple puzzles, building blocks, easy craft activities, and puppets. Normally 4 or 5 year old children enjoy this type of play, but it continues to be enjoyable into the first and second grades of school.

Playing games that have a definite structure or rules do not become dominant until children start to enter elementary school. Board games, simple card games, ball games or skipping games that have specific rules will teach children cooperation, mutual understanding, and logical thinking.

A playground can be a turned into a learning experience for a child. Although a playground traditionally has certain elements, these elements may pose an unsafe surrounding for your child if the equipment is not properly supervised or built of unsafe materials. A safe environment that allows gross motor activity is important for children.

Learning and Development

At this point in your child's life, she has the highest potential for learning new things. While attending an early childhood education program, your child will improve her language and motor skills, while developing the learning and cognitive skills necessary to move on to primary school, states the Rural Education Action Program at Stanford University.

Health Benefits


Attending a quality early childhood education program can benefit your child's health as well. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of preschool-age children attend an early childhood program or child care program out of the home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Studies show that being provided with quality care in those programs can positively influence your child's learning and development. In addition, your child's socio-emotional development is less likely to be adversely affected, with a decreased chance of needing behavioral or mental health care once she enters primary school.

Screening Benefits

One of the many benefits of your child receiving an early childhood education is the opportunity to participate in early childhood screening. This screening is provided for 3- to 5-year-olds and tests things like health, cognitive development, speech, vision, hearing, coordination, emotional skills and social skills, Screenings can identify any development or health issues that need to be taken into consideration, to prevent learning delays.

Economic Benefits

Children aren't the only ones that benefit from early childhood education programs, states the National Institutes of Health. These programs can have economic benefits as well. A study conducted by the NIH tracked low-income families whose children received intensive early childhood education, while their parents received parenting skills training, social services and job skills training.

The results showed that these children went further with their education, had a higher income and better health insurance coverage than those who didn't receive early childhood education. These children were also less likely to abuse alcohol or be arrested and incarcerated for a felony.

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Conclusion

Students’ achievement in school and in life is influenced by their early educational experiences.

New research findings on early brain development make it clear that quality care and early education should be vital components of every child's life. New knowledge about child development should be incorporated into early childhood curricula and parent education. Continued scientific research on brain development and early learning is needed.

Policymakers should be clear about what we expect children to be able to do when they enter school so that early education can be geared toward specific measurable goals. More coordination is needed of the full range of early childhood programs and Texas should work to ensure adequate teacher training and curriculum development.

Full funding should be provided for Head Start and similar programs as well as full-day pre-kindergarten in public schools, thereby giving all children a good shot at entering school ready to learn. Children in child care should also have the opportunity to receive quality age-appropriate care.

Quality early education can produce important long-term improvements in the intellectual and social development of disadvantaged children. However, many families, but particularly low-income families, do not have access to quality child care and early education programs. Texas should invest more in both the quantity and quality of early care and education and not squander the opportunity for potential gains for children

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