EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT:
Typically defined as the pre-school years (usually 3-8 years), early childhood is an important and distinct stage in childhood development. The general consensus is that biologically, cognitive and socio-emotional processes all play a considerable role in children’s maturation. Psychologists and philosophers have historically promoted diverse perspectives on the nature of children, yet they are generally in agreement about the following characteristics of early childhood development.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
- COGNITION: To begin with, the brain grows most during early childhood development, leading to drastic changes in cognitive development of children’s memory. For example, young children can remember large amount of information and they also learn to convey their thoughts and ideas which relate to their everyday life with the use of words and images.
- SELF REGULATION: Children learn to regulate and construct their behaviours with adults’ help which is a crucial characteristic of early childhood development.
- MORAL DEVELOPMENT: As a result of constant correction by teachers on self regulation, children at early stage of development tend to make progress in terms of moral development. These could also be as a result of values instilled in them by their parents, teachers or/nannies in early childhood. In the long run, they are able to develop their sense of right and wrong.
- PHSICAL GROWTH: It is very important that parents and guardians meet children’s physical needs to enable them grow and develop at their early stage. Children need right nutrition and exercises to live healthy lives. A lot of motor improve during early childhood development when adequate care is given to the child. These include ability to engage in many physical activities such as involving in outdoor games like football, rope-skipping, etc which schools are expected to provide for them.
- PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT AND GENDER SOCIALISATION: A child’s social world influences the development of his personality and purposeful behaviour. As children get into the later stage of early childhood, they are given more responsibility; they are likely to experience guilt.
In early childhood, children generally prefer to play in same sex groups. At this time, they get to learn what defines “pink” and what defines “blue”. This is why they often model their behaviours after the same-sex parent or mostly prefer same-sex teacher.
- DEVELOPMENT THROUGH FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Family plays a crucial role in early childhood development. The parent-child relationship is one of the single greatest influences on a child’s self esteem and sense of self control. Moreover children make rapid language advances at this stage. The type of environment parents create can set the foundation for literacy if books and effective verbal exercises are initialized. Parents and teachers must know that this is the stage when children want to explore their environment. Because children learn faster from what they see in their teachers/parents lives and society will either confirm or contradict what they have taught. They want to exert their energy because they are full of life and vigor. Teachers should help them to make proper use of the energy by providing educative toys and have physical exercises as stated earlier. Teach them to always report any fall or accident while playing or at any time in order to give it adequate care to avoid any future deformity or permanent injuries.
EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT.
- Early childhood is the period of character moulding; it is therefore expected of you as a teacher to give all necessary training for this stage (societal norms) such as how to talk, how to behave, how to react to issues, eating habits, sleeping habits, body contact, eye contact, etc.
- They could be inquisitive, be patient to answer their questions. Patience and tolerance is a major characteristic every teacher must possess.
- Keep them busy on creative things to stir their creative talents such as drawing, colouring or painting.
- Emphasize the importance of education in early childhood; both secular and spiritual. Teaching at this stage is not just about story books. Go beyond that. Motivate them to study by emphasizing on importance of education to an individual and the society in general.
- Keep them emotionally balanced, debunk inferiority complex in them and encourage them to have confidence in God and in themselves. You can easily achieve that if you love all children equally and place high value on each of them. This will enable you to know when a child’s development has been interfered by emotional disorder.
- Very important! Never condemn any child with intellectual deficiency, instead encourage such on how to belong – individual differences exist even in people with the same I.Q (Intelligent Quotient). His task should be appropriate to his abilities. And never compare any child (academic wise) with his fellow as that could belittle them (make them feel unimportant and inferior).
- If you promise a child something, make sure you fulfil that, it makes him/her place value on promises; so following true to your promise is vital during early childhood development. Also, incentives serve as reinforcement. The same goes for discipline: if you tell a child that you will withdraw a certain toy or luxury if he/she misbehaves, then make sure you do. If you keep letting little things go, then the child will soon learn you will not do as you say and take advantage of it.
- Teachers should not frighten a child by shouting at them when giving an order, instruction or when teaching.
Above all, never stop loving them.