What My Child Will Learn at Kindergarten, or Other ECE Provider
Choosing the right early childhood education (ECE) provider is one of the most important decisions you make as a parent. That is why it is so important to understand what your child will learn at Kindergarten or other ECE, and how they will learn it.
“Is my child going to be ok?”
Transitioning into early childhood education is a big deal for a children and parents. For children who have never been in early learning centres before, they are about to answer some pretty fundamental questions…
“Am I safe away from mum and dad?”
“Do I belong in this community?”
“Who am I around other people?” or “Am I worthy of respect?”
The answers to these questions will profoundly impact their education journey, and ability to function well in a social learning environment.
Luckily, there has been some fantastic research exploring the best way to support pre-schoolers in their transition to ECE. According to the Ministry of Education, for example, a healthy transition is less about the age and stage of the child, and more about their familiarity with the people, places, and things within the ECE environment. This suggests that lots of visits with mum or dad to settle the child prior to enrolment is positive, as is the development of a positive connection with at least one ECE staff member.
There is, of course, a point, at which separation will have to occur. This is a big moment, and every centre will have a different policy on this, but I encourage parents to be curious, and ask questions when discussing settling with educators, to ensure they, and the child, feel as secure as possible.
The second key point raised by the ministry of education in their article on transitioning to ECE is the importance of the “image of the child” held by ECE educators. Is the child viewed as an engaging and interesting little person, full of inherent wisdom and creative energy? Or are they defined by their lack of social skills, motor skills, and ability to follow rules? The answer to this question is always both, but the more an ECE provider (and the parent) is able to hold the perspective that your child is an engaging and inherently wise learner, the more likely it is that your child will find positive answers to those fundamental questions above.
“What is my child going to learn?”
Once a child has transitioned into an environment in which they feel safe, included, and respected, there is so much to learn! Here is the first 5 of the 14 learning outcomes listed by the Auckland Kindergarten Association:
- Feel confident, develop responsibility and a sense of independence
- Work and play alongside other children and adults
- Develop effective communication skills
- Persevere, problem-solve and take risks
- Explore limits, boundaries, routines, and conflict resolution strategies
Each of these points relates to the overarching 'Kindergarten' goal of creating lifelong learners, which is the development of the inherent skills, attributes, and abilities that are fundamental to all aspects of learning. For this reason, numeracy, literacy, and other ‘academic’ benchmarks are further down the list. According to neuropsychologist Nathan Wallace, There is no evidence that learning these skills earlier than 7-8years improves academic success later in life, and so it is right that the emotional and social skills necessary for learning are emphasized at the pre-school stage of development.
“Which ECE should I choose for my child?”
If you are lucky enough to have your pick of several early childhood centres, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and take a good look around. Are the teachers overworked and under-resourced? Are the children treated with kindness and respect? Does the centre have the space and resources for your child to develop their curiosity? Can my child develop positive relationships with the teachers here?
A good point to remember is that you don’t need the fanciest equipment or state of the art environment for healthy learning to occur. The “image of the child” discussed above is arguably much more important, and it should be fairly obvious how the centre views their children from the way in which they interact with them.
Remember, every child is different, and how you, as the parent, feel about the centre may have a profound impact on how your child settles in to their role as a kindy kid.
Auckland Kindergarten Association: https://www.aka.org.nz/about/learning-philosophy
Nathan Wallace: https://www.facebook.com/nathanwallisxfactoreducation/
About the Author: Parent Village aims to provide parents with relevant and research based information, to help support positive parenting choices.