What is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education regards education in the early stages of childhood, which are the most vulnerable stages in a persons life. According to the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), it spans the human life from birth to age eight. Infants and toddlers experience life more holistically than any other age group. Social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, and physical lessons are not learned separately by very young children. Adults who are most helpful to young children interact in ways that understand that the child is learning from the whole experience, not just that part of the experience to which the adult gives attention. Early childhood education often focuses on children learning through play.


The term, "early childhood education," is often used to describe preschool or baby / child care programs. Researchers in the field and early childhood educators both view the parents and/or families as an integral part of the early childhood education process. Early childhood education takes many forms depending on the theoretical and educational beliefs of the educator or parent.

Other terms that are often used interchangeably with "early childhood education" are "early childhood learning," "early care," and "early education.

Much of the first two years of life are spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self" or the building of a first identity. This is a crucial part of children's makeup--how they first see themselves, how they think they should function, how they expect others to function in relation to them. For this reason, early care must ensure that in addition to employing carefully selected and trained caretakers, program policy must emphasize links with family, home culture, and home language. Care should support children's families rather than be a substitute for them. Child Development:

There are 5 different developmental domains of children which all relate to each other.

They are easily referred to as the SPICE of life:
  1. Social - Refers mostly to the ability to form attachments, play with others, co-operation and sharing, and being able to create lasting relationships with others.
  2. Physical - Development of Fine (small) and Gross (large) Motor Skills.
  3. Intellectual - The process of making sense of the world around them.
  4. Creative - The development of special abilities creating talents. Music, Art, Writing, Reading, and Singing are all ways for creative development to take place.
  5. Emotional - Development of self-awareness, self-confidence, and coping with feelings as well as understanding them.
  6. Cognitive development - Concerning how children think and react.

According to Piaget, there are four stages of cognitive development :

  1. Sensor motor Stage
    This stage occurs between the ages of birth and two years of age. Sensor motor (infancy): During this stage, which includes six distinct

sub stages, intelligence is demonstrated through motor activity with limited use of symbols, including language; the infant?s knowledge of the world is primarily based on physical interactions and experiences.

  1. Preoperational Stage
    The second stage occurs between the ages of two to seven years of age. During this stage, intelligence is increasingly demonstrated through the use of symbols;

memory and imagination are developed as language use matures; thinking is non-logical, non-reversible, and egocentric.

  1. Concrete Operations Stage
    Occurring between ages 7 and about 12 years. During this stage?characterized by conservation of number, length, liquid, mass, weight, area, volume?intelligence is increasingly demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols relating to concrete objects; thinking is operational, reversible, and less egocentric.

  2. Formal Operations Stage
    The final stage of cognitive development (from age 12 and beyond) During this final stage, intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related

to abstract concepts; thinking is abstract, hypothetical, and early on, quite egocentric; it is commonly held that the majority of people never complete this stage.

  • Emotional Development - Concerning children's increasing awareness and control of their feelings and how they react to these feelings in a given situation.
  • Social Development - Concerning the children's identity, their relationships with others, and understanding their place within a social environment.

Recent studies on infant brain development show most of a person's neurons are formed
from ages 0-8.

If a young child doesn't receive sufficient nurturing, nutrition, parental/caregiver interaction, and stimulus during this crucial period, the child may be left with a developmental deficit that hampers his or her success in preschool, kindergarten, and beyond.

The term, "Early Childhood Education," is often used to describe preschool or baby / child care programs.
Researchers in the field and early childhood educators both view the parents and/or families as an integral part of the
early childhood education process. Early childhood education takes many forms depending on the theoretical and
educational beliefs of the educator or parent.