Care of Children in Early Years: Early Years as Foundations for Later Learning (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Early Years as Foundations for Later Learning: Quality Pathways of Care

  • Children deserve quality care and education from the start! The quality of childcare has a direct impact on children՚s ability to learn, to build healthy relationships, and to become the best they can be. It has been stated earlier that early childhood is a period of rapid development. A high quality ECCE programme provides a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of young children.
  • We are sowing the seeds of strong roots and foundations for later life. Infants and toddlers especially need a childcare setting where they can thrive with caregivers who understand how to promote their healthy growth and development. Young children need a schedule that is responsive to their needs, including appropriate stimulation and time to rest.

Conditions that generally foster a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children are:

  • Low child/caregiver ratio
  • Small group size
  • Motivated and sensitive caregivers
  • Positive caregiver/child interactions
  • Age and developmentally appropriate activities and stimulating materials such as blocks, toys, colors, beads etc.
  • Good health, hygiene and safety practices
  • Trained staff with regular professional development opportunities . The significance of care for young children is spelt out in the section below.

Interest, Curiosity and Motivation

  • The early years are a time when what you do can be seen in the children you raise. Often, we do not pay attention to interest among children. Interest is a form of energy that leads to curiosity as well as motivates and guides children՚s engagement in the world. Infants have an enthusiastic awe and wonder as everything is new and the novelty makes them explore.
  • Infants show intense interest in their mother՚s face or caregiver՚s face, especially the eyes. Soon, they become interested in objects that are colorful, moving, rhythmic, or harmonious (or, more generally, beautiful) . Young children are also wide-eyed in their curiosity and interest which is encouraged with activity and interaction. If caregivers display curiosity for objects, phenomena and provide explanations, children will be curious and motivated.

Forming Relationships

  • It is important for babies and young children to have rich and supportive relationships with parents and family members in their early years for them to be alert and active. Positive relationships are important because they help children develop independence, self-esteem and wellbeing. Children will feel confident, secure and be able to trust their relationship with adults in turn learning to trust their own decisions.
  • When interacting with caregiver, children learn social skills, such as sharing, cooperating, and respecting other՚s ownership. They also learn to communicate and develop motor skills. Cognitive stimulation influencing early brain development is strongly dependent on early attachment and positive relationships.

Play and Playful Interactions

  • From birth, children explore their senses and process new information in a manner that appears playful. Initially, they use their body as they throw their arms and legs to make demands.
  • They begin to make sense of the world around them as they grow through the exploration of new textures, materials and resources. Sensory play encourages discovery and independent thinking, as well as inspiring imagination and creativity.

Research shows that sensory play can benefit children՚s development and learning.

  • Brain development emerges from engaging in sensory play that influences learning, memory and ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
  • Language development is also rooted in play, helping children learn new ways of talking about the world. New experiences, objects, listening to songs and jingles encourage language development and skill to communicate effectively with others whilst playing.
  • Fine and gross motor skills are enhanced as children identify objects by touch during tactile sensory play, which helps them develop their fine and gross motor skills such as squeezing, pulling, pushing and throwing.
  • Cognitive growth is supported by sensory play enhancing their thought process, understanding and reasoning. Manipulating new materials allows understanding of new concepts.
  • Social interaction is fostered by group activities. A positive sensory play environment encourages children to interact and work with others effectively, which is essential for their development. They begin to share their ideas and build new relationships.
  • Active sensory play helps children become more self-aware and body-aware, which helps them develop a better sense of space around them.

Rhythms and Care Giving

Rhythms and Care Giving
  • Routines are important because they give children a sense of security and control over their environment. Routines allow children to be emotionally prepared for changes that are to come. They protect children from unexpected changes as familiar schedules or routines, or familiar objects bring in a sense of continuity and permanence and soothe children in times of change.
  • Babies do not understand morning or evening, but it is through care giving practices that they learn about time, sequencing and permanence. Elders in the family often make comments that sound astounding and unbelievable such as, “This baby cries in the evening if the father is late from work” or tell the mother, “Better come by 4 pm. After that, your child gets restless.”
  • Such comments are from mere observations and leave you wondering about the capacity of baby, barely four months or six months old, to function in real time.

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