Benefits of Early Childhood Education
High quality early childhood education gives children the best start in life. It provides important opportunities to learn and develop. Early childhood education can help your child make friends, develop independence and learn new routines. It also supports their transition to school. Use the ECE finder tool to find quality early childhood education and care services in NSW.
Helping brain development in young children
Children's brains are influenced by both their genes and their environment. Babies are born ready to learn, with around 90 percent of brain development occurring in the first five years of life. The early years are important, as how the brain grows is strongly influenced by what's happening in a child's environment and their interactions with the people around them.
Vision and hearing pathways develop first, followed by early language skills and higher cognitive functions. A child's vocabulary often quadruples between ages two and four. These connections become more complex over time as children grow, and influencing brain development to create positive learning behaviours from an early age is much easier than rewriting it later.
Research shows that children who participate in quality preschool programs are more likely to arrive at school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to help them to continue learning. These benefits extend well beyond primary school. Higher levels of educational success, employment and social skills have all been linked to moderate levels of participation in quality early childhood education.
Brighter Beginnings: the first 2000 days
Brighter Beginnings is a NSW Government initiative to improve the lives and experience of parents and families in the first 2000 days of their child’s life and better support all children to achieve the best start in life.
Check out the Brighter Beginnings step by step guides for parents and carers of young children in NSW who have not yet started primary school.
As part of Brighter Beginnings, the NSW Department of Education has launched a public awareness campaign ‘Learn to grow, grow to learn’. The campaign showcases the benefits of early childhood education and provide families with the information they need to enrol their children in quality early childhood education services on one convenient site that parents can use to find a service near their home or work.
From the ages of three to five, most children want to play with others their age, and can think about the feelings of others at an initial level. At this age, children learn how to play with others, and might have a ‘best friend’.
In early childhood education, children are encouraged to share and play with their peers. Through these interactions they learn to develop important interpersonal qualities such as empathy and cooperation which will help them get along with others in preschool and beyond.
By spending time with their peers, children learn to include ideas from others in their play, and start to understand each other’s feelings. Young children are naturally egocentric, so learning skills such as empathy can be challenging, but the good news is they can learn a lot from watching and interacting with their peers. These early years social skills can help your child develop friends through their whole life.
For many children, participating in early childhood education is the first significant amount of time they spend away from their family. Being in a new environment, away from home, can help children to build their confidence and discover their identity.
As part of a child’s growing independence, they develop key self-regulation skills between the ages of three and five years old. These skills may include concentrating, sharing and taking turns. For example, toddlers may show self-regulation by waiting to play with a toy, or by paying attention to someone who is talking to them.
Self-regulation skills are important to help children develop confidence and independence, allowing them to grow and understand who they are, and to form friendships. Parents, carers and early childhood educators are all important role models for demonstrating healthy methods of self-regulation.
Learning new routines
By attending early education, your child can learn to adapt to a new routine outside the home. Routines can positively influence a child’s emotional and cognitive development, and knowing what to expect encourages them to feel secure and comfortable.
Routines can help children manage their expectations of their environment, and reduce problematic behaviours such as temper tantrums. When developing daily routines, early childhood teachers and educators will consider a mix of activities that are active/passive, indoor/outdoor, and child-directed/adult-directed.
Routines are also planned according to children’s ages to make time for naps, incorporate any individual requirements or medical needs, and to accommodate their attention spans and other aged-based needs.
Supporting transition to school
Early childhood education supports your child’s transition to primary school. It prepares children in both informal and formal ways, such as engaging in a range of Transition to School activities. Children who experience a positive transition to school are more likely to feel comfortable, relaxed and motivated to learn. This helps them form positive relationships with others, both children and educators, and develop a sense of belonging within the school.