Have you noticed that many people are calling daycare programs “school”? Is there really a difference?
A recent article in the Atlantic discusses how the linguistics have changed the way we refer to the programs, but notes that programs are all different regardless of the terminology. Since research has shown that the first five years of life are critical for rapid brain development, parents are searching for more educational programs. When a child is 3, what does that mean?
In their efforts to be more educational, some programs focus on content and more structured time. Children are often rushed from one activity to the next. This isn’t really what early childhood education should be about. Child development experts note that young children need time to play and explore, opportunities to socialize and be part of a community, and new experiences.
Rhian Evans Allvin, the CEO at NAEYC (Nation Association for the Education of Young Children) recently wrote a blog article where she points out that real learning for young children happens through play where they are engaging in “problem solving, exploring the environment, navigating conflicts at the water table, and learning STEM basics by changing the incline of a ramp to make a marble roll down faster.”
With the push for full-time day care in many states, new programs are being created at a fast pace. Hopefully these programs will take into account the knowledge that we have about child development, early childhood education and the importance of Social and Emotional Learning to create appropriate spaces for young children to play, learn and grow.