Preschool education is the phase that starts from early infancy and lasts until about 5 to 7 years of age or when children start going to primary school.
Every institution around the world has different arrangements for preschool education, and thus their names refer to that. Daycare, infant school, day Nursery, and crèche are the terms used for centers that look after early infants (from the age of 3 months to three years). The name crèche is mostly used in French-speaking countries as well as Scandinavian countries along with the UK, Russia, Poland, and Israel).
In the second stage of early childhood education, kindergarten, nursery school, and “maternal school” (école maternelle) are famous arrangements of institutions. Maternal schools are usually for three to five years of age, and then kindergarten is for four to six years of age.
However, in countries like Italy, kids directly go to primary school after maternal school. While in Germany, there are a kind of preparatory schools (Schulkindergarten – school kindergarten) besides kindergarten for kids, who are not fully prepared to enroll in primary school. Furthermore, the United States counts kindergarten as primary education.
Development in the Early childhood education
Back in the 20th century, there were many major developments in the propagation of preschools and nursery schools. Firstly, in early childhood, new scientific interest was implemented due to the application of fields like psychiatry, medicine, education, and psychology. Secondly, the significance of Parent education and Guidance of children was acknowledged. The third major development was improvising the daycare and day nursery educational programs by individuals and agencies, for already recognized institutions that were benefiting working mothers. Since the movement of nursery education was leaping due to the various social forces, it was difficult to describe only one type of school as a representative of the movement. Nonetheless of this, we can mull over some modern opinions of early childhood education.
Developmental psychology of Jean Piaget and its followers:
It is considered the major contribution to early childhood education theories, according to which Jean Piaget and his followers are certain that there are regular stages in which a child intellectually develops. The first stage is sensorimotor intelligence and the second stage is representative intelligence.
In the first period, sensorimotor starts from birth and lasts until 2 years. In which child learns fine motor skills and develops senses to handle the external objects and happenings meanwhile begins to form his language. Moreover, he develops a sense of things that are not present but exist and starts using gestures or broken words to symbolize things.
The second stage “representative intelligence” starts from the age of two and lasts till the age of seven usually or eight. This stage is linked to early childhood education in which the child develops his language fully and gross motor skills. The child learns to explain his feelings and surroundings through gestures and words mostly. During this stage, the child learns to adjust through perception as well as experience and mistakes. The child also starts incorporating more symbolization and basic links like simple mathematical (sizes, groups, quantities, etc.) and other logical relationships.
Through this theory of Piaget, early childhood education was well understood, and educationalists learned the importance of cognitive development and concept formation in young children. His theory also emphasized the supportive environment needed to build crucial skills.
Today kindergarten and nursery schools stress language development however, researchers believe that when the child starts to make meaningful symbols and associations with words, that’s where true language starts to develop. For example, if an infant repeats the word mama after, then this is not true language development. Between the age of two to six years, speech is a real challenge through comprehension and expressions. While at the age of four child grasped basic methodological grammar of his language. At the age of six, the child increases his vocabulary to up to 2500 words or more depending on the conducive environment and inclination of elders towards a child.
On the contrary, researches show that children growing up in an orphanage or impersonal institutions lag in speech development as compared to children of the same age growing up in a usual family system. Early childhood education thus ensures the development of fundamental language skills, lifelong skills, and manners. It also focuses on intellectual and academic development while allowing them to learn through play, reflection, creation, and sharing their learning with their peers and teachers and through various means of expression.