When you send your child to a daycare centre, what do you expect?
All parents expect that their child will be safe and cared for. But what if daycare could provide more than the minimum for your child and your family? What if you sent your child off to daycare each day with the assurance that they would become smarter and more confident?
That is the magic of an educational daycare center. When a daycare centre focuses on helping children to learn and grow, you will see the difference in your child. But what does learning like when the students may still be in diapers?
If you’re curious about what an early education program looks like in action, and why early learning is so important, this article is for you. Read on to learn what teaching children in the daycare setting is all about.
Children at work are children at play
When you arrive at a daycare centre for a walkthrough and visit, it can be busy, loud, and sometimes even overwhelming! This is because the children are usually hard at work – which is to say that they are engaged in the work of childhood, which is focused, purposeful play.
Play is at the centre of any high-quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood curriculum. The key to understanding why lies in the incredible and unique ways that young children develop.
Children are scientists
For adults, many of the things we see and experience have become familiar, and no longer inspire wonder. If something falls, we intrinsically understand that gravity is at play. For a young child, every falling object is fascinating and unexpected and demands more study.
Children are scientists. Being a teacher in an educational daycare centre is all about harnessing the young child’s inherent curiosity. Teachers don’t simply sit around supervising play – they actively curate a space that allows children to experiment.
Furthermore, it is the daycare teacher’s role to help children think and speak about their discoveries and understanding. For toddlers, this might mean using vocabulary in a new and novel context. For preschoolers, this involves knowing what questions to ask to challenge children’s thinking.
At daycare, a million ‘A-ha’ moments happen every day! It might be while building with blocks, playing pretend, or writing a story. No matter what, play allows learning to remain a joyful process for children and teachers alike!
Children are creative
Play also allows children the opportunity to express their creativity. All writing starts as scribbling, after all.
Play is a key to mastering creative and expressive tools. Educational daycare centres allow children to explore the materials that interest them.
For some children, this might mean playing with play-doh. Others may paint on an easel, rip up construction paper, experiment with collage, or finger paint. Every messy exploration builds physical and creative muscles that help children express themselves in the world.
Direct instruction that respects children’s attention span
“Circle Time” is a classic component of any early childhood education. Coming together as a community has wonderful implications for social and emotional development. Children learn to follow routines, listen, and share.
Direct instruction in the early childhood classroom often takes place while the group is gathering. It will look different for every age group. A good teacher knows their ‘audience’, and will cater their teaching time to the attention span of their learners.
Often, the whole class comes together to discuss a theme. This can be anything from holidays to community helpers to the human body! They will read, write, and discuss the theme to build their understanding of the topic and the world.
Often, this theme will also become a component of children’s play. Teachers will change up the materials and activities available. This provides opportunities for the children to put their new learning into context.
Poems and songs
Poems and songs are also a hallmark of early childhood. They are key components of children’s early language development. The skills built through song directly contribute to reading ability as children grow.
Both music and poetry contain sounds, rhyme, and rhythm. These all contribute to the development of phonemic awareness. That is a child’s ability to hear and comprehend the sounds that are part of their language.
Phonemic awareness becomes essential as children begin to engage with the alphabet. It helps them to learn that there is a sound-symbol connection involved in reading.
Plus, music is fun and joyful. Finger plays can help young children to build hand-eye coordination and develop fine motor muscles. These are skills that can help them transform into writers and artists as they grow.
Songs and poems have the added benefit of teaching vocabulary and academic concepts in a memorable and accessible way. Children love to sing their way through everything from the days of the week to the parts of a plant!
The value of stories
Gathering to read and listen to stories is an essential component of an academic childcare program. Stories allow children to voyage beyond the world that they currently occupy. They gain exposure to people and ideas that they may never have encountered in real life.
Books also have the benefit of teaching children concepts of print, which are the building blocks of reading. Through exposure to books, children learn the essential elements of how text works. Even if children do not yet know ‘how’ to read, they can interact with words and pictures in a way that helps them build meaning.
Learning to love stories early also helps lead to a love of reading later in life! Teachers help children build positive associations with books. This makes children enthusiastic learners when it’s time to learn to read themselves.
A great day care centre is a place of learning
Running a daycare centre involves a solid understanding of child development. The best educators provide children with care while expanding their world. At a quality centre, your child will return home each day bursting with stories, songs, vocabulary, and excitement.
At The Learning Experience in West Loop, that kind of magic happens every day. With a thoughtful curriculum designed for six stages of early development, TLE makes learning a priority for every child.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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