What outcomes parents should expect from early childhood education and care
By the time children are five, they should show preference for a particular hand and be able to work with others. from www.shutterstock.comWendy Boyd, Southern Cross University
Parents often have different expectations for their three- to five-year-old children when they attend an early learning centre. Some parents expect their child to engage in academic learning activities or “real learning”. Academic activities are associated with formal school-based learning such as writing, reading and knowing their numbers.
Parents are reported to feel concerned if they visit their friend’s home and see their friend’s child brings home worksheets (for example dot-to-dot of their name, colouring in of Easter eggs, or other adult-directed products) from their early childhood centre. They may worry their child is being left behind because their child is “only playing” and not engaging in real learning.
Developmental milestones and the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards, CC BY-ND
Research demonstrates children’s learning achievements are greater from play-based programs, which include activities such as block building, compared to early childhood programs that have an academic focus.
The early childhood education curriculum emphasises the importance of play-based learning and research demonstrates children’s learning achievements are greater from play-based programs compared to early childhood programs that have an academic focus.
When to worry
According to the developmental milestones, parents should seek advice from a professional if their three- to five-year-old child:
is not understood by others
has speech fluency problems or stammering
is not playing with other children
is not able to have a conversation
is not able to go to the toilet or wash him/herself.
Children aged three to five should be able to build a tower with eight to ten blocks.Shutterstock
Parent-teacher relationships are important
Educators need to be able to explain their approach to children’s learning to parents at the outset of the child/family’s admission to the centre and reinforce this as children learn and develop.
The curriculum and the National Quality Standards both focus on educators having “partnerships with families”. But if there is disagreement about what and how children should be learning, a partnership between the parents and teachers won’t develop and endure.
Parents need to be continuously informed about the learning program in the centre. There needs to be alignment between parents’ expectation of what their child will learn in an early childhood centre, with the learning program provided, and the play-based approach a good one for the children.
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