How Is Early Childhood Education Important? And How To Choose?
Meta description: Every parent is arranging Early Childhood Education for their kids. What is its importance? How to choose the most suitable learning channel for your kids? Big Bang Academy will provide the answers.
The popularity of Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been increasing these years as parents in Hong Kong are letting their children attend classes even before kindergarten. Despite the rising trend, some parents comment that ECE just provides a place for kids to play since usually no homework is given to students. So, what exactly ECE is?
You may also wonder if it is really necessary for kids to receive early childhood education — You won’t have this question in your mind anymore after learning the purposes and importance of ECE from this blog.
OK now you know ECE is crucial to your kids, but which learning channel should you choose for your kids, to maximise the learning outcomes? In the blog below, you can find some useful criteria for you to choose the best educational institution for your children!
What is early childhood education (ECE)?
By definition, early childhood education means both informal and formal education which aims to facilitate the development of kids at such a young age. Children at their early childhood, i.e. from age 0 to 5, are still fully dependent on their adult caregivers such as their parents, teachers and babysitters, while these kids are so curious about the world that they will absorb every piece of information in the nearby environment and learn from exploring and interacting. This is also why you can simply define ECE as every word and interaction the adult caregivers provide the kids with.
However, here in Hong Kong, we usually refer to the preschools when we mention the term ‘ECE”. Different schools may have different approaches to educate the pre-school kids but we can classify them into two main categories:
- Focusing on academics to improve kids’ school readiness
- Embracing a ‘whole-person’ principle to ensure kids’ mental well-being
You might believe that ECE is no different from playgroups as you often see kids singing songs, playing team games and making crafts in classes of early childhood, right? But what’s the truth is that ‘children learn the best through playing’. In ECE, students are not just playing, when a more appropriate description will be ‘learning by playing’.
Purposes of child education
Why does ECE have to even exist when there are already kindergartens and primary schools awaiting my kids? You may ask. To answer this question real quick, the purpose of ECE is to build the foundation of kids in four different aspects: literacy skills, problem-solving skills, self-discipline and self-confidence.
1. Literacy Skills
Through child education, kids will have lots of opportunities to communicate with peers and teachers, no matter by gestures or words. Hence, it will not only improve their communication skills, but also equip them with the abilities to start appreciating words and thus literature. Eventually, kids will be more likely to love reading and writing!
2. Problem-solving Skills
As mentioned, ECE, especially those which focus on STEAM education, always encourages kids to do mathematics exercises or science experiments. Basic knowledge in sorting, foundations of cognitive skills and experimental mindsets, which are extremely useful for problem solving, will be etched in children’s minds.
Every parent has experienced the frustration when your kids are crying for no reason — there is no doubt about it. When kids are learning in preschools, they will have countless opportunities of team working. With the patient guidance from teachers, children are expected to learn how to control and express their emotions properly so they can cooperate with others well.
Making friends is one of the most effective ways of building self-confidence. In ECE, children are learning together side-by-side and it is almost certain that all of them will become very good friends! Getting recognised by peers, kids can gain the essential confidence which makes them more willing to take on challenges in the future.
Importance of child education
Even though you know that child education is beneficial to kids in four aspects, you might still question why it is so urgent for you to get your kids into quality ECE schools. Lets’ learn about the importance of ECE now!
1. Brain development
We start by learning a surprising statistic: around 90% of brain development of a person depends on the learning environment in the first five years of life. In other words, the growths of the brains of kids are highly affected by the interactions they have at a young age. This is why the above-mentioned problem-solving skills developed in ECE will ensure the kids enjoy benefits which will extend to higher levels of education.
2. Academic success
It is common, and perfectly understandable, that many parents are concerned about the academic performance of their kids. Meanwhile, the National Education Association (NEA) mentioned that kids that have received quality ECE are more likely to achieve good grades in high schools and graduate from high schools, which is supported by research findings.
3. Making friends
Similar to what is mentioned, kids can certainly make friends in pre schools. It is imperative for doing so since by sharing time with their peers, they will naturally have their empathies, social skills and cooperation skills enhanced. This does not only improve the abilities of your kids to enlarge their social circle in the future, sometimes, your kids may meet their lifelong confidants in preschools!
4. Developing independence
There must be one day that your kids will live independently. They have to learn to behave themselves without the guidance of parents. During ECE, kids will not only develop the self-control as mentioned, but also learn to obey some basic regulations such as queueing when waiting to play with toys. The self-discipline is undoubtedly essential for them to live away from their families.
5. Learning new routines
In preschools, students will have to learn a completely new routine outside their homes. Through this process, kids will learn to manage their expectations whenever they enter a brand new environment, thus reducing the possibilities for them to have problematic behaviours. This adaptive ability is especially important for kids nowadays as they always face new routines in the ever-changing society.
How to choose child education?
It is obvious now child education will do good for your kids; however, the question now is how you should choose the most suitable child education. It is actually not that hard if you make your choice by considering the following factors:
1. Curriculum and co-curricular activities
Curriculum and co-curricular activities define what your kids can learn at school. As for curriculums, both width and depth matter. The width of a curriculum means the variety of subjects will be covered in classes while the depth means how thorough the teaching will be. A classic example of a narrow curriculum will be the academic-heavy one, in which very few co-curricular classes such as crafting, sports and music can be found. This kind of curriculum may limit the development of some critical life skills of kids.
2. Student-teacher ratio
You are busy already dealing with one single kid of your own, right? It is pretty straightforward that a smaller student-teacher ratio is positive to the effectiveness of kids’ learning as it will be relatively easier for the kids to participate in a small class. It is especially important for pre-school kids to have a small ratio (at most 1:10 preferably) since their demand for individualised attention is the highest.
3. Teaching quality and support
Teachers are important in early childhood education because all knowledge your kids receive is basically from the teachers. First, they have to be well-prepared for every class so that they should ensure an engaging learning environment for kids to immerse themselves into studying. Second, they should provide ongoing support for the kids, for example, monitoring the learning and physical progress of students, to make sure that the children are learning efficiently.
4. Child's needs and interests
Different schools have different focuses, so do your kids! When you are choosing among the alternative schools, you must consider the strengths and weaknesses of your kids first. Ask yourself: Does my kid love doing sports? Or is he into arts otherwise? You can only make the best choice of school after understanding your child's interests and needs well enough!
5. Learning Style: Interactions and assessments
Even with the same scope in the curriculum, the methodology and teaching style of different schools may still be different. While there may be countless types of styles, two of them will definitely be helpful to your kids’ personal development:
- Cooperative Style: experimental and team working projects are encouraged.
- Inquiry-based Style: students-led teaching and thus independence are encouraged.
Both styles are student-centric in that they both emphasise the whole-person growth of kids.
6. Family engagement
What is meant by ‘family engagement’ is that there are activities for the kids and their family members to learn together. If ‘family engagement’ is successfully achieved, the kids can not only be able to enjoy quality time with their parents, but also develop the habit of learning everywhere, including at homes.
Child education in Hong Kong
- Development & policy
- Ref: edb
The government published the “Kindergarten Education Curriculum Guide” in 2017 to announce the five developmental objectives of child education in Hong Kong, namely “Moral Development”, “Cognitive and Language Development”, “Physical Development”, "Affective and Social Development" and "Aesthetic Development". The purpose is to ensure all-rounded development of kids by achieving these five objectives through six learning areas, which are “Physical Fitness and Health", "Language", "Early Childhood Mathematics", "Nature and Living", "Self and Society" and "Arts and Creativity".
Although the guide provides the development direction of a very comprehensive curriculum, there are several problems spotted in the current situation. Since it is common for schools to make “ensuring students can be admitted by elite primary schools” their purposes, two problems limiting the balanced growth of kids are seen. First, there is a lack of family engagement as most of the after-school assessments are just written assignments for now. Students are asked to do so only to be better prepared for primary schools, but not to develop the habit of ongoing self-motivated learning. Second, since the curriculum right now is too academic-heavy, kids are experiencing less fun from learning. Moreover, children’s potentials are limited as non-academic skills such as sports and arts are being overlooked under the current curriculum adopted by most schools in Hong Kong.
Prepare for the future - Learn with Big Bang Academy!
If you are wondering where you can allow your kids to receive quality ECE now, Big Bang Academy is exactly what you are looking for!
Big Bang Academy provides a blended learning curriculum for your kids to learn about STEAM, in which your kids can enjoy online lessons via the online platform Big Bang Lab and do hands-on experiments at home with the experiment kits delivered to your homes! Accredited by research reports of Cambridge University, our curriculum does not only contain interesting elements such as experiment opportunities for the kids to enjoy quality time with their parents at home, but also integrate both science and arts subjects to allow whole-person development of kids. You can subscribe to our curriculum anytime you like and your kids will receive the followings monthly:
- 2 completed online lessons on our online learning platform, Big Bang Lab
- 2 science experiment kits
- 1 science workbook
- 1 science vocabulary book
When it comes to child education, our mission has never changed: to make learning as compelling as a movie, as fun as a theme park and as educational as a classroom.
Sign up for our STEAM curriculum now with 55% off and transform your child into a self-motivated learner!