Early childhood education presents the primary interaction of a child with literacy materials which materially raises the concern of how thorough the period is. It is a period that engages children at their early ages of between three to five years old. In essence, a child has had little or no interaction with books or things to memorize. This paper asserts that there is a direct relationship between the developmental success of a child in life with how well his early childhood education was addressed. How well a person is able to read, comprehend and interpret literate work is determined by how well this area was inducted at the early childhood years (Camilli).
The paper will evaluate several issues surrounding this topic. First I will evaluate the need to consider this as a concern in the first place. Is it a matter of such high importance or can we assume it plus the possible side effects of missing this stage? The article will also evaluate the literacy needs at this stage specifically handling reading materials. A keener analysis on the interdependence of the teacher and the child and what kind or a relationship need they develop to ensure effective delivery. Also of importance is an outlook at the availability of digital tools that could be of help and the possible opportunities for both the teachers and the children. Lastly, I will wrap up with the benefits accrued from the various issues presented in the discourse.
Why Early Childhood Education
The early stages of the development of a child are an exposure to the world and a mystery to unravel. It is almost like an exploration to a child in differentiating one thing from another. Everything is so new and exciting to indulge in. This sort of a discovery series forms the pivotal part of a child’s life. Most habits and fears are developed in equal measure at this level. To psychologists, this stage needs careful moulding for any child while also leaving room for them to find out who they are.
The qualities of a person are best developed at this stage of life. Having not learned so much from parents, early childhood centres form the basic start of life, a discovery point of each one of them. The teacher who stays with them for the whole day is actually the best placed to know the strengths of a child and their weaknesses. Every person in life embraces their strength and tries at best to hide or work out their weaknesses. This is critical at this stage in ensuring that children work on their abilities, experiment different things which once they become a point of strength, they will stick with it to the end.
The need to focus on reading at this stage is due to the early developmental stages of a child’s brain. With a lower memory retention rate as compared to an adult, how this stage is developed is importance to ensuring a more successful life. Reading is central to any person, whether in academia or not. Every human being needs to get information on literally everything they use and reading is the main access point (Barnett). The facets of reading which includes understanding what one reads make it an even vital focus point.
Interpretation informs the decisions one makes in life. Early stage reading teaches one to know how to read, understand what they are reading and interprets the message. A person who does not understand what they read will automatically fail in interpreting what the material needs. The essence of reading actually is interpretation and a child needs to learn how to interpret. Meanings of words become crucial at this stage (Diamond).
Reading also forms the first interactions of a person with knowledge other than the earlier parental passed as one learns to speak. Knowledge encompasses the elements of accessing information, consuming it and using it to make decisions. This means reading is the first stage of acquiring knowledge. If not for other reasons, in essence, everyone needs to focus on reading first to ensure accessibility. This stage then forms a critical point in the development of a person and how well it is addressed can only mean better success in life.
What Materials are of benefit to a child?
Not every material is of benefit to the development of a child. As earlier stated, this stage marks the earliest interaction of a child with information and as such, a gradual exposure is of importance. Novels at this stage would automatically not make sense to any child and would end up piling pressure on them. Jargons are also not a preserve of this age.
The earliest exposure should be to words which are of things surrounding them. This could be at home, at school, on the playground or in social places. The first focus should be on the obvious things. Too much abstract is a distraction as words form the first reading ground. Before a teacher even focuses on letting a child read sentences, they should expose them to as many words as possible. In essence, words are the start point of reading. A child prior to joining pre-school may know a few words, copy a few lines they have gathered from their parents or people generally. This stage marks the clear stating of things, with a coherent understanding of them.
Children have a high visual affinity and anything that is in drawings, colored or in such graphics is attractive to them. Being at a stage where the importance of education does not make a lot of sense, creativity is needed to retain their attention. Books with pictures having the words they need to practice is a quick win for them. Animated materials are also a quick win due to the attraction they have to children. Every teacher should ensure that reading is fun by providing what is attractive to a child (Moil, Adriana & Maria).
A teacher is at the center stage of the learning process of a child which forms a key consideration for any center or body allocating tutors for children. Different environments will call for different kinds of approaches to handling children and all these are points of consideration when getting one. The impact of a teacher at this stage is so important that one’s like and dislike of education can be affected. Cases of children refusing to go to school because of their teachers are not a new occurrence.
A teacher needs to be attractive to engage with the children as well as authoritative to get things done. When one is too nice, the children might disrespect them and become arrogant. Every teacher needs to maintain the welcoming aspect as well as the authoritative nature. Children at this stage need not associate learning with strife or a forced experience. Cultivating a culture where children will appreciate reading is at the heart of any tutor-child relationship. Collaboration between the parents and the teachers also has proved to assist children to read more where parent help their children rehearse what they learned during the school (Lonigan & Grover).
Children can get annoying and this call for a very patient person to handle them. The delicate nature of children needs care as it affects their overall attitude towards education. Children should be very thrilled to attend school each and every morning, a role which lies on the teacher to build. Making reading fun is part of the job description of any tutor. Every center might not have the entire infrastructure or the necessary materials to ensure a fun learning mood, but someone needs to create it. Children need to feel that what they are getting into is something enjoyable to do not just once but for a lifetime. Use of storytelling and reading among children also enhances their level of reading efficiency (Isbell).
This paper also deliberately postulates that not everyone can become an early children tutor. This is a job that requires passion and the willingness to engage with children. It does not demand a manager who needs to run programs but a person willing to get involved with the children. The level of involvement at this stage is very high in that playing games together, modeling together and all other activity needs a hands-on the tutor. A lot of time is spent helping the children pronounce, draw, or even write well. This calls for a person passionate about children and one who can be patient with them.
Repetition can get very nagging and most people are shy away from engaging in such jobs. A child teacher relationship entails among other things, repeating things every other time. Due to the low memory capacity, children are tempted to forget easily and a teacher needs to understand his role in ensuring remembrance of a child. Every teacher has a responsibility to understand each and every child’s strengths so that they can help accordingly. Reading, the focus of this paper needs exactly someone who is ready to repeat the same words over and over until a child gets it.
Sounds are very important in ensuring an effective read. The role of the tutor is to ensure every child gets the right sounds even before pronouncing the words. This can get tedious but it is with persistence and continuous repetition that this is achieved. Children regularly get frustrated when they are unable to pronounce words correctly and it is the duty of a tutor to encourage them. Simple motivations at this stage are important for example commending them when they are able to pronounce a word they have been struggling with before. Children look for affirmations and the feel that someone appreciates their efforts. This ensures continued focus and children will try their best to be better every other time.
A reading culture is not an easy one to create especially in adults. The highest percentages of persons who engage in the continuous reading of books, novels and such outside their normal work are those exposed to it at early stages. Continued research reveals that the tendency to find an adult fixed to books even as a hobby is directly linked to an exposure by their parents or schools at an early age. Enhanced reading increases the capacity to handle larger and larger texts and the more the exposure to literary materials at an early age, the more likely the ability for a person to absorb heavy materials. Success in any field and career entails reading heavy files, engaging in research which involves reading and this only gets easier where on has to inculcate a reading culture in them (Lonigan).
Schools concerned primarily with excelling in marks only without encouraging reading to end up producing a workforce who are disinterested in research, evaluating materials which eventually disadvantage them even in workplaces. At early childhood, there are interesting digital materials that have been developed to make learning even more interesting. Gadgets for example that sell early childhood content create games which help children learn faster and practice words easily. The essence of using digital as a platform to enhance reading is to remove the class mentality out of a child.
Most people to relate school with a serious environment where every person is expected to come out with knowledge. This predisposition can build pressure and a school phobia, especially where a child feels like they are not achieving that which they are supposed to. Digital materials and platforms make learning fun and children engage more when exposed to them. The visual thirst in children keeps them fixed to gadgets or playing word games, hooked to television station with children content without getting exhausted. The thought that no one is after their performance only increases their interest, which is needed at this stage of development.
The competitive nature of the marketplace calls for a change of tact in handling education. The most successful people are those with the ability to absorb as much information as possible. This inter alia means that research is at the heart of any job and industries are looking for persons who can do and interpret data. The focus to a knowledge economy in the global arena, therefore, calls for excellent readers, fast readers who can understand variables easily and interpret them accordingly to make an informed decision. The running of governments and organizations also require this skill more than any other, and market forces have pushed those keen with it to the top most positions.
But this is not the only reason why one needs to have a good foundation in reading. At a personal level, one needs to have the ability to access information and understand instructions on things if utility. With the individualistic nature of life due to continued capitalism, relying on self is a necessity. The cost of getting expert information is also very high and where one can access and utilize information to make decisions on their own, why not?
The benefits that accrue to developing a good reading foundation are immense. It is more costly to acquire them later in life where one has to pay professionals and such services. Both at a personal level and also in the public arena where communication drives society, one needs to be equipped to relay information coherently (Galinsky). A child with goo reading skills develops also astute writing skills. This extends to their communication and easiness of constructive correct sentences. This ability builds a person’s confidence to stand among other and direct conversations. Such simple societal good is the most important in ensuring one has a good standing in society, both formal and informal.
Having evaluated the central issues surrounding the benefits of early childhood education especially on reading, I will conclude by stating that the success of any person is highly dependent on how well their reading skills were developed in their early years of existence.
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