Early childhood education is not just a synonym for preschool or elementary school. Early childhood education involves a collection of theories, principles, and teaching strategies that ensure children are getting the very best academic foundation from the earliest age possible. Here is a quick guide to what to look for in the ideal early childhood education program.
1. Small class sizes.
Small class sizes have been proven to provide a better educational outcome for young children than larger class sizes. The maximum student to teacher ratio should be 10 to 1, but smaller is even better. When looking into a potential early childhood education program, take careful note of the class size and how many teachers, (not volunteer parents), are present. Keep in mind that a very large class, (say, 30 students), will not benefit from the addition of more adults.
2. Consistent faculty.
Children benefit tremendously from consistency. A stable, consistent faculty will create the healthiest learning environment possible for your child. Look into faculty loyalty at the learning center of your choice, and see how much turnover they experience. Long-term faculty loyalty is a great sign. High-quality programs invest in their teachers and are always working to improve work culture, leading to more consistency and less turnover.
3. Creative learning environments.
A great early childhood education program might look a bit chaotic at first glance. The classroom should be busy, active, and creative. Young children learn through play, hands-on experience, and social interaction, and the classroom should reflect this type of controlled chaos. A setting where children are lined up in desks for long periods of time is not ideal, and may even be harmful to a young child’s learning process. Look for creative structures, fresh ideas, and lots of active and even outdoor time for students.
4. Continuity through continued education.
Does your child’s program provide a consistent learning model from preschool through elementary? Will the curriculum provide a great foundation as their education continues? This is the benefit of choosing an early childhood education center that continues until elementary school and even beyond.
5. A curriculum that looks beyond academics.
In early childhood education, play is learning and learning is play. Children learn best through first hand experiences, and play is an enormous part of that. Make sure your chosen program isn’t pushing an “academics only” approach, but maximizes the way children naturally learn through socialization and carefully-curated independent play environments.