Early child education refers to the education children receive from the beginning of life until they are about eight years old. In many settings, this would include participation in nursery or preschool to about third grade. The term can alternately reference people who study and practice the theories of early child education, and who might be preschool teachers, elementary school teachers in grades kindergarten through third, or a variety of specialists or assistants. Some argue a broader definition of education at this time exists because children begin to learn at birth, whether or not they are receiving formal instruction; parents/guardians are often the first early childhood educators.
In the stricter sense, many different theories suggest how early child education should be administered to best assist in child development and learning of early skills like reading. These are taught to those who attend college or other programs such as Montessori® method programs. These theories may stress varying aspects of child development, and many schools of thought lean heavily on the work of developmental psychologists like Jean Piaget, though others may differ from Piaget. Exactly how to target the young brain and best facilitate its development is of primary concern.
Early child education theory may impact the way any government responds to the subject. When governments have the wherewithal and a population that might not be able to participate in education that is not free, like preschool, it may start a variety of assistance plans to provide early childhood education to a broader base of students. In places like the US, a number of different educational opportunities exist for qualifying children.
Government assistance might help young kids get exposure to educational environments or support, prior to free kindergarten. The Head Start program offers preschool to children with low income levels, and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) can assist in identifying children with learning disabilities, offering very early intervention like a variety of therapies and the opportunity to attend SELPA preschools. No income requirement, high or low, is necessary to participate in SELPA.
When people decide they want a career in early child education, they usually pursue at least a bachelor’s degree in the subject, though some may earn a few college units and work as assistants. The BA qualifies most people to work as preschool teachers. Those desiring teaching spots in primary grades must study more. Most teachers require a credential, if they work in any public school environment. Not all private schools require uphold this requirement.
It’s argued that adequate education is perhaps most important to work best with early learners. Though subject matter taught in primary grades and preschool is easy to understand for most adults, the way it should be taught to young children is another matter. Learning how to teach and manage a classroom full of young children with their particular and diverse learning needs can make people much more competent in the field of early child education.