The day that a child starts school is one of the most highly anticipated events of their young lives.
They experience a huge range of emotions from excitement and anticipation to fear and anxiety as D-day draws nearer - and the unknowns that await them when they walk through those school gates for the first time can be a little overwhelming.
But did you know that school doesn’t actually start on day one?
From the day a child is born, he or she starts to learn by playing, by exploring and by interacting with others in a safe and stimulating environment. And when we talk about their school journey, this actually begins way before they take their first step into a ‘real’ classroom. It starts the day that they enrol in a childcare or early education centre.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, child care and early childhood education ‘hold a key place in the wellbeing of families and their local communities....and they provide key opportunities for children's development and social engagement’. Child care and early education are the foundation for a child’s future development from a cognitive, social, emotional and physical perspective and it’s here that the child can develop skills needed for school as well as for their lives outside of school.
Research shows that a child who has access to quality early childhood education is more likely to have continued success in school, in the workplace and in their social lives. No wonder then, that Australians place such high importance on quality childcare.
It’s where a child’s hunger for knowledge and understanding of the world around them will be fed. It’s where the seeds for a lifelong love of learning will be planted. It’s where a child should find a loving, caring and nurturing environment where they are encouraged to discover and explore things through their innate curiosity.
Childcare and early education centres are also where preparation for formal schooling begins - and where the basics concepts of literacy, numeracy, communication, problem-solving, handwriting, music and drama are introduced.
Many early learning educators have moved away from a traditional classroom-type environment which had set curricula and regular testing and benchmarking exercises. These days, there’s a strong movement towards play-based learning where children try lots of different activities and engage with their environment - and where they’re encouraged to experience literacy and numeracy as part of their everyday interactions.
One educational movement that has gained traction around the world and which has become the gold standard for early learning excellence in Australia is the Reggio Emilia approach. This movement very much believes that a child’s learning experience starts way before the first day of school. Parents are seen as the child’s first teacher and the way that children explore, question, and interpret their world during the first five years of their lives helps them reach their full potential.
In Reggio Emilia-inspired schools, each child is celebrated and respected as a unique and competent person in his or her own right. Each child is acknowledged and encouraged as a contributor and a creator of their own learning as opposed to merely being a receptacle for knowledge.
In Western Australia, Treasured Tots Early Education follows the Reggio Emilia approach and they have adapted the learning method at their three child care centres in Mandurah, Fremantle and Bibra Lake to suit the climate, culture and educational context of Australia. If you would like to find out more about your child’s all-important learning journey before they get to the school classroom, please get in touch to find your nearest centre or book a tour.