Why is Early Learning so important to all of us?
Here are some excerpts from a variety of web sites focused on early learning:
Quoting from United Way’s Born Learning Web Site:
“The Case for Action
Quality early learning experiences for all children are a key driver of school readiness, vital to improving high school graduation rates and critical to a community’s economic success. A child’s early years, from birth until school age, are a unique period of growth and development. In fact, 85 percent of the brain’s development happens before kindergarten. Learning to walk and talk, beginning to think independently, understanding how to communicate and learning to control impulses and emotions – are all critical early learning skills that build the necessary foundation for successful future learning.
Four decades of research show that high quality early childhood experiences, inside and outside the home, can make a significant difference for children, creating a vital pathway for success in school and life. Children’s brains are being hard-wired in the first five years for future learning: communications, social/emotional skills and critical early learning skills are formed in these early years.
Just as a solid foundation can support a house, the fundamental support of early learning makes a tremendous difference in the long run. It impacts not just how children do or behave in kindergarten, but whether they’ll be reading well by third grade, succeeding in eighth grade or graduating high school. The skills we look for in workers – critical thinking, problem solving, and working on teams – are all built on the foundation of those early years. On the other hand, chronic stressors in the early years – like persistent poverty, poor health and nutrition, absent parents and homelessness – can dramatically weaken that foundation.
Parents are a child’s first teacher, but they often underestimate their contribution to their children’s school readiness. Many families don’t know exactly what to do to encourage early learning, or feel they don’t have time to do what it takes to prepare their child for school.”
Quoting from Getting Smart article by Kris Perry, March 12, 2015:
“With so much discussion and debate going on about how to improve our nation’s schools, we must also be thinking of smart, proven ways to invest in children’s development that are more than just corrective steps. And nowhere can we make a smarter investment than in the earliest years – birth to age 5, before children enter the K-12 system – so that children are primed and ready to succeed the moment they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Parents, business leaders and elected officials are galvanizing around the notion that investments in high-quality early childhood education are a proven means of setting children on the right academic and developmental path, and also a smart financial investment.
Parents of infants and toddlers know just how critical those formative years are. The fact of the matter is that children are born learning and their brains develop at an enormous rate in the first few years of life. This is the time when they learn and develop the early cognitive and social skills that set the foundation for later success in school, career and life.”
Quoting from Facts for Life Fourth Edition:
“Child development refers to the changes that occur as a child grows and develops in relation to being physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally sound, socially competent and ready to learn.
The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.
Recent research confirms that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child’s brain architecture. Early experiences provide the base for the brain’s organizational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.
Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.
Babies and young children grow, learn and develop rapidly when they receive love and affection, attention, encouragement and mental stimulation, as well as nutritious meals and good health care.
Understanding the stages of child development helps parents know what to expect and how to best support the child as she or he grows and develops.
In many settings, early childhood programmes support parents and their children from infancy through age 8, which includes the important transition from home to school.
All children have the right to be raised in a family and to have access to quality health care, good nutrition, education, play and protection from harm, abuse and discrimination. Children have the right to grow up in an environment in which they are enabled to reach their full potential in life.
It is the duty of parents, other caregivers and family members, communities, civil society and governments to ensure that these rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
Quoting from The Hole in the Wall Project and the Power of Self-Organized Learning:
“In early 1999, some colleagues and I sunk a computer into the opening of a wall near our office in Kalkaji, New Delhi. The area was located in an expansive slum, with desperately poor people struggling to survive. The screen was visible from the street, and the PC was available to anyone who passed by. The computer had online access and a number of programs that could be used, but no instructions were given for its use.
What happened next astonished us. Children came running out of the nearest slum and glued themselves to the computer. They couldn’t get enough. They began to click and explore. They began to learn how to use this strange thing. A few hours later, a visibly surprised Vivek said the children were actually surfing the Web.
We left the PC where it was, available to everyone on the street, and within six months the children of the neighborhood had learned all the mouse operations, could open and close programs, and were going online to download games, music and videos. We asked them how they had learned all of these sophisticated maneuvers, and each time they told us they had taught themselves.
We repeated the experiment in two other locations: in the city of Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh (Digvijay Singh, a prominent politician, was interested in our research), and in a village called Madantusi in Uttar Pradesh. Both of these experiments showed the same result as the Kalkaji experiment: The children seemed to learn to use the computer without any assistance. Language did not matter, and neither did education…
Over the next decade we did extensive research in self-directed learning, in many places and through many cultures. Each time, the children were able to develop deep learning by teaching themselves. I decided to call the method of instruction we had developed Minimally Invasive Education (MIE). The rest of the world continues to call it the Hole in the Wall.”
Quoting from Are Tablets the Way Out of Child Illiteracy:
“American students are taught how to read in kindergarten and first grade—they learn that letters refer to sounds, sounds compose words and words express concepts. From there, students decipher the nuanced laws of the English language: They discover, for instance, that ea can be pronounced as in bread or in hearth or in at least ten other ways. They learn that muscle contains a c, even though it looks weird, and that the words muscle and muscular and musculature are related. “By the end of third grade, the working assumption of every teacher until recently was that the kids are ready to move on,” Wolf told me. “But if the kids are not fluent—if they don’t have that repertoire of what the English language demands, or the vocabulary to correspond to what they read—they are going to miss the whole boat of the educational system.”
In Roanoke, the researchers see the tablet more as an educational aid. Wolf, one of the project’s designers, claims it marks the first time anyone has tried to deploy apps curated or created expressly to stimulate the young reading brain. If this approach works, thousands of disadvantaged children in the United States—and perhaps millions more around the globe—could escape illiteracy. “That would be revolutionary,” says Wolf, whose publications include the book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “It’s not just about autonomous use of a tablet, but where we can, we want to emphasize how important it is to have children working on this together, playing with this together, discovering.”
Human beings are not wired to read, says Wolf. The young brain must forge a whole new circuit for the task, drawing on the neuronal networks it inherits genetically for language, hearing, cognition and vision. The apps in the tablets distributed to Roanoke’s kindergarteners were loosely designed with that process in mind: There are apps for recognizing letters and learning the sounds associated with letters, as well as apps that address many aspects of vocabulary and language development….
So what did the students learn? The researchers are still analyzing the data, but preliminary results showed that among the kindergarteners, for whom data was compiled on a class-by-class basis, there was a high correlation between the time the students spent with a tablet and their speed in learning to name letters, an indicator of early-childhood literacy. What’s more, the correlation was even higher in classes whose students used the tablets more at home. Among the preschoolers, there was improvement among all three groups, but it is still unclear how much of it can be attributed to the tablet. Children who used the tablets entirely at home had fewer gains, but they didn’t spend as much time on the devices as the students in classes, and they didn’t have a teacher—or fellow students—to learn from.
“Clearly, we’d think that more engagement with a technology-supportive teacher would produce better outcomes, but how the teacher uses the tablet, and how it helps the teacher, are important questions we need to understand,” Morris said. “But how do we maximize tablet use, and how much learning can the students get who are not even coming to a traditional class? That’s the more important challenge for us, because those are frequently the more at-risk children we need to reach more effectively.”
Quoting from The Benefits of Tablets in Early Childhood Education:
Tablets were specifically designed to be interactive and engaging. The confusion about whether or not tablets are good for preschool children is largely because many people generalize studies of television screen time (non-interactive and non-engaging) with tablet time.
The Napa County Office of Education (NCOE) and NapaLearns have been working with our school districts for more than three years, introducing iPads in preschool and kindergarten classes, and the results have been outstanding.
Pre- and post-test studies on the nationally normed Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test have shown statistically significant gains for both native English speakers and English learners in expressive and receptive English language skills, a prerequisite for reading.
Kindergarten teachers, originally skeptical, have been excited about the differences in communication skills shown by children who enter kindergarten after using iPads in preschool and have eagerly embraced the use of iPads in their classes.
Cincinnati Preschool Promise: http://askpreschoolpromise.org/
Cincinnati Success by Six: http://www.sb6uwgc.org/
Erlanger Elsmere: http://www.erlanger.k12.ky.us/news/2015-08-05f2b.pdf
Child Focus: http://www.child-focus.org/
Child Focus Head Start: http://clermont.oh.networkofcare.org/mh/services/agency.aspx?pid=ChildFocusIncHeadStart_72_2_0
Clermont County Public Library: http://www.clermontlibrary.org/
Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/best-preschool-apps
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