Neuroscientists all over the world agree with something kindergarten teachers have known for decades: most of our brain development happens in the first five years of our lives.
In fact, according to international research, around 80% of our brain has already developed before we start school, and that our learning experiences in that time can make an enormous difference to our lives.
Nicole Sanders, Centre Director at Goodstart Early Learning, believes this is why parents should put the same time and effort into choosing childcare, as they put into choosing their child’s secondary school.
“Just think about how much children learn in their first five years, “she said.
“Not just to talk and walk, but to create, achieve, reason and empathise too. They learn to get along with others and to stand on their own two feet as unique individuals too. All these skills are fundamental platforms on which their later learning is built. The stronger these foundations are, the more successful learning will be at school and beyond.”
Scientists have found that positive early learning experiences can build a greater number of more complex pathways in the brain. These pathways provide the base for the brain’s organisational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact not just on how children develop learning skills, but on their social and emotional development as well.
Findings like these have created a growing interest in the quality of early childhood education, and the Australian Government has established the National Quality Framework to ensure improved early learning and safety standards in the early learning and childcare sector.
“Within this, is the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), which guides us in developing a quality early learning curriculum,” said Ms Sanders.
The focus on early learning outcomes has placed a focus on those who are caring for children in those early years too. Early childhood teachers and educators are now required to hold formal qualifications from a university or approved training organisation.
According to Ms Sanders, this is an important step in improving standards in the sector, and one that will help parents feel more confident about choosing childcare for the their children.
When I was looking at care options for the twins, I wanted to make sure that they were stimulated mentally and physically. I did not want them to just be babysat as Ms Sanders explains. The child care centre that the girls went to had a dedicated early childcare teacher that gave children skills and helped them learn before they started school.
We also had a big decision in regards to pre-school for the twins. There was much umming and erring about what to do and where to send them. We decided on a Monterssori Pre-school due to their curriculum and way of teaching. This pre-school taught the beginnings of maths, and science. The girl’s sewed buttons, took responsibility for cleaning up after themselves and learnt words, letters and numbers as well. It was all aimed at their level and of course copious amounts of artwork came home every day.
Kids are curious creatures and feeding this curiosity early is a must. As Ms Sanders points out, the first five years of your child’s learning is the most crucial and important. This is where building blocks are formed so that your child can learn other things easily.
“If you want to be assured that your child is not merely being ‘babysat’ while in care, look for a childcare provider that has adopted the National Quality Standards (NQS)” she said. To find out more about the NQS Click Here
“It means that the centre has a strong early learning focus, that set standards are in place, that the staff are qualified and that your child is getting the best possible start in life.”
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for National Quality Standards. I am a big believer in education and getting to kids early is key. Who knows what these little people will become… maybe they will be the next leaders of our country? The next PM?