Early childhood education, or ECE as it is more commonly referred to, is designed to help prepare young children for kindergarten. As a teacher of this age group, I have seen many bright and talented young people suffer from a lack of confidence and direction in school. Some have been denied their true potential because of the obstacles they have faced along the way. Others excel academically but need to take remedial action at an early age because of physical handicaps or a learning disability. One of the most important aspects of E CE is to ensure that children are able to develop their potential before entering kindergarten. With the development of technology and a focus on achieving higher standards of education, it is becoming increasingly difficult for teachers to achieve this end.
In Australia, the early childhood education units or CEUs are recommended to be completed by kindergarteners in order to establish their academic skills and to prepare them for kindergarten. The curriculum used by Australian preschools is based on the competencies of the youngest children in primary school. The key performance indicators (KPIs) are aligned with the teaching objectives and aims of the National Curriculum and consequently form the core curriculum for every school.
At first glance, the educational approach in early childhood education units might appear conservative and traditional. The key performance indicators set by the National Curriculum generally encourage a highly individualized education where the achievement of individual goals is the driving force for student progress. It is not uncommon to see individual classrooms where students share basic units or achieve unit based achievements. Units may be structured around different developmental goals like language, socialization, food safety, personal care and play. This flexible approach to learning is necessary to ensure that children gain the support and skills they require to succeed in kindergarten.
Many of the early childhood education units involve multi-level coursework where students work towards specific educational goals. In these units students are required to demonstrate certain academic success before being awarded points. Some schools introduce the concept of earning units where after students have achieved a certain grade level they earn a fixed unit for further education. These earning units serve as carrots to motivate students to continue with their education or move to another unit where they earn a fixed number of points. The carrot-based system is quite successful in encouraging students to take up further educational courses.
In most preschool teacher training courses, the teacher is expected to have an understanding of the concepts of educational psychology. Psychological concepts form the basis of what makes a child learn from the point of view of a preschool teacher. The strategies used in units are designed to give children the best opportunity to learn. Units focusing on cognitive strategies are designed to improve the quality of students’ understanding of the concepts being taught.
The key strategies for preschool teaching used around the globe are based on research conducted on the effectiveness of various techniques on various levels of the development of a child. Early childhood education is often taught through repetitive lesson plans that provide daily lesson content. Unit planning is used to ensure that the teaching time and classroom time do not overlap. An effective plan must address the needs of the child in the earliest stages of his or her development. In most cases the plan is developed based on the child’s age, gender, and level of comprehension at the time of the lesson.
In some countries, there are also government preschool teacher training programs that may be available to trained candidates. The primary advantage of these programs is that they allow the early childhood education teacher to have hands-on training and practice with real classroom conditions. Online courses usually include online discussion boards and interactive worksheets. The main disadvantage of such online courses is that they cannot provide the instructor with live training in real classrooms. These courses help prepare a teacher for distant classroom training and for supervising fellow teachers who are undertaking online courses in various fields.
The other important area of early childhood education training involves skills training. Here, the skills needed by the child to learn and grow as a child are assessed and taught. Usually the preschool teacher will have a one-to-one session with the child in order to assess the skills required for him or her to teach the child. These sessions are usually held once a week on a specified day and are followed by an online quiz or worksheet that will measure the child’s progress. This is the least 12 units that should be covered by any course in this discipline.