Despite these challenges, there are several recent positive trends in early childhood education. These trends include changes from traditional instructional methods for early childhood education to Waldorf or Montessori style instruction (known as the Reggio Emilia approach). Other trends focus on improving the educational achievement gap between groups (by providing greater flexibility to standards mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 or NCLB) and efforts to improve literacy.
1. Alternate Approaches to Traditional Instruction
The Reggio Emilia approach to early education began in the 1940s as a way to bring the resources of a child’s learning community together as equal shareholders in the process. Through this approach, the responsibility for education is shared between teachers, parents and the learner. Reggio Emilia is set on a fundamental set of values that are learner-centered and less rigid than traditional methods for education. Children are guided toward learning through free inquiry and exploration.
The input of parents is both welcomed and encouraged and students create learning portfolios, based on their interests. This approach allows children to not only take ownership over their learning but nurture long-term interest in inquiry and discovery. This approach is a growing trend in many communities throughout the country and has been integrated into the philosophy of companies such as Google.
2. Closing the Achievement Gap
An ongoing interest of early childhood proponents is to be able to verify the effectiveness of their teaching methods in order to improve outcomes for all learners. Gaps in performance have been assessed, according to the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), to be three-fifths of a standard deviation higher for children from higher socioeconomic communities than those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Standards within the NCLB allowed little flexibility to address the differences in these learning communities.
Changes to NCLB has allowed local educators to custom craft programs that allow for the delivery of education that meet NCLB standards in a way that is less rigid than what the law initially called for. This flexibility helps maintain the interest of children that is particularly critical in the early years prior to education in a more formal setting (i.e. K-12).
3. Achieving Early Literacy
Children exposed to books and readings in the first three years of their lives have a better chance of developing vocabulary, understanding letters and being able to tell stories. Parents who reinforce learning attained through early childhood education by reading to their children aid in better educational attainment outcomes for their child over those who do not. Early literacy is being reinforced in various communities that have adopted Every Child Ready to Read programs at public libraries and other facilities tasked with improving literacy for all children.
Give your child an early advantage on education by enrolling them in one of the programs from Tender Care Learning Centers. All of our Tender Care locations focus on engaging your child to instill a passion for lifelong learning. Discover all the differences quality early education can make for your child and visit a Tender Care Learning Center location near you.