This article will discuss important strategies for getting the most from the early childhood education experience. Schools impact the lives of children as early as pre-kindergarten or kindergarten.The habits children learn early will carry them far into the future. The primary grades teach the basics of language arts, compilation, and experimentation with educational toys, as well as practical everyday skills.
The early grades can do more than just impart knowledge. Schools can cover basic life skills like good manners, putting things away when finished, how to eat with a fork or knife, how to delegate chores, how to arrive on time, listening skills, small group participation, and how to make a bed. Yes, orderliness, cooperation, and attentiveness to detail can be imparted early.
Perhaps the best time to learn language structure is in the primary grades. Language software companies like Pimsleur and other institutes teach that languages have building-block words, a core vocabulary that is finite and discernible. The challenge for new language learners is to hear the core of the language spoken until it becomes second nature.
This approach and similar ones like Rosetta Stone and Berlitz should be phased into the curriculum to teach language arts in the primary grades so that all children begin at the same starting point and build language using common instruction modules. This approach incrementally introduces new language learners to a total immersion in the context of everyday life situations. What better place to teach the context of language than in early education?
New language learners can learn the basics of a language in as little as 10 days. If this is the experience in language learning institutes, why not adopt this language teaching methodology throughout the educational system? Children would benefit by learning a native or foreign language thoroughly from a common starting point.
Language is not the only subject taught in the primary grades. Children should internalize life skills which will carry forward throughout formal schooling into later life.
The first life skill to be learned is to set boundaries so that formal schooling can be instilled through homework, practice, and devoting time to mastering basic skills. When children leave the confines of school, they enter a world that places demands upon their spare time. Children need to budget and prioritize time so that the full cycle of education can be mastered both at school and in the home. This aspect of learning will require parental involvement.
Next, children need to learn the basics of personal hygiene, as well as eating healthful foods. Such things as brushing teeth, polishing shoes, washing hands thoroughly, and eating with a fork and knife should be instilled early.
Eating food with utensils sounds quite basic; however, many children tear and rip food in ways that make the teeth crooked in time. Crooked teeth lead to complex dental procedures and incomplete digestion. These problems could be corrected early by instilling good personal hygiene including the proper use of a fork and knife to cut food into smaller digestible pieces.
Perhaps the most important part of basic health education is teaching children what to eat. Children need to learn to drink more water as opposed to unhealthy sweet drinks, and should be encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, eggs, nuts, and seeds. These health food choices should be offered in cafeterias and reinforced by basic health maintenance taught in the classroom.
Basic health and wellness education should instill life skills aimed at keeping people healthy through the prism of eating well and exercising. These skills are the ones to lead the way in erasing childhood diabetes. In addition, early dietary education will go far in emphasizing health and wellness modalities in health care. Early education is the best place to start with modalities that cut health care costs throughout the medical care delivery system both public and private.
Early education is the perfect time and place to develop and instill good eating habits that will carry through life itself. Children can be taught the daily calorie allotment, as well as the proper mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to consume. In addition, the daily recommended consumption of sugar can be taught and reinforced by showing children how to read food labels and track sugar consumption.
The use of the local library is another important skill to be learned early. The primary grades can introduce children to readings by the librarian, basic library research, and the incremental development of vocabulary by reference to recommended books on the librarian’s reading lists.
Many of the most dysfunctional habits of older children can be bypassed before they become problematic by teaching the basics in early education. Children can be taught to internalize good habits early in life. Only through early instruction and reinforcement can children experience the all-important learning transfer which is necessary to master the skills taught and engendered in the classroom.