The first 5 years of a child’s life are critical to helping build their core personality, and are called the formative years for that very reason. Once a child reaches the age of three, they are ready to be introduced into an early learning program, where they will spend a couple of years preparing for the 12 years of formal education that every child must face.
How important is the first few years?
The nursery and kindergarten years are critical, and the ideal early learning program is one that recognises that the child is at the centre of all learning. One such program with international recognition is the Reggio Emilia approach, which was created by an Italian pedagogist after the Second World War. Loris Malaguzzi understood the environment needed in order for children to learn effectively, and with the help of the local parents, he set out a program that is widely used today all over the world.
The core principles of the Reggio Emilia approach are as follows
- Children must have some control over the direction of their learning.
- Children learn though touch, movement, listening and observation.
- Children explore the relationship they have with other children and the material things around them.
- Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
Sourcing a Reggio Emilia Program
Fortunately, the best nursery in Bangkok, Raintree International School, offers a dynamic early learning program that follows the Reggio Emilia principles, and prior to enrolling your child, it is critical that you fully understand the principles and goals of experiential learning. Prospective parents are invited to tour the school, where they will immerse themselves in a child-centred environment, as well as having the opportunity to discuss the program with the School Principal.
Learning By Doing
This is the basis for an effective early learning program, where the children can safely explore the world around them, and rather than being instructed, they are encouraged to explore and their ideas are part of the curriculum. Experiential learning occurs when children are given the choice regarding activities, and the teacher steps back from the traditional role of instructor to become more of a facilitator. It is not unusual for a teacher to know in advance that a specific project will involve obstacles, and rather than instructing them about these issues, the teacher guides the children to the point where they are faced with the problems. Then a group discussion ensues, with the children being encouraged to give their opinions, and there are no right or wrong answers, as all input is valued.
Equipping your Child for Success
The goals of a learner centred early learning program are not academic; the children are encouraged to develop creativity and imagination, while also learning essential social skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. There are a million talents a child could display, and the best early learning programs help the child to identify their strengths and learn the life skills that will empower them to reach their fullest potential, whatever that might be.