The established view among experts is that quality childcare and early education leads to better outcomes in life.
The reason for this is that all the experiences a child has during the critical formative years have a strong – and lasting – effect on their academic and social success and on both their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Simply put, high quality early childhood education gives a child the best start in life. A careful choice of childcare provider is an investment in your child’s future and will improve the likelihood of later success.
What constitutes quality childcare?
Childcare isn’t babysitting. The staff aren’t merely child minders. Childcare isn’t just a convenient drop-off spot where toddlers can socialise and let off steam while parents go to work or continue with their busy lives.
Childcare should be where a child’s holistic wellbeing is comprehensively looked in order to prepare them for life going forward.
A quality childcare centre will help children develop skills needed for engagement and success as they transition to school. It should provide ample opportunities for positive interactions with adults as well as other children and should be a warm, welcoming and inclusive space where diversity and difference are respected.
Children in childcare need to be safe, healthy and happy and they need to experience a wide range of activities which go beyond mere academic goals.
Parents and caregivers have to have every confidence that their child is being well looked after by loving and professional staff and that their child’s best interests are being served.
Why quality childcare plays such an important role in a child’s healthy development
Here’s why quality childcare is essential:
- It helps set a strong foundation for the development of cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills
- It introduces young children to basic mathematics concepts and boosts their language, pre-literacy and communication skills
- It exposes children to simple routines and behavioural expectations eg taking turns, sharing, working collaboratively, setting boundaries, listening, resolving conflicts appropriately etc
- It supports and nurtures a child’s natural curiosity and creativity
- It can help instil a lifelong love of learning
- It sets a child up for easier integration, progress and success as they transition to ‘big’ school
- It establishes key building blocks for shaping the child’s future in later life
Quality childcare supports a broad range of learning and development goals
At childcare, children have the opportunity to participate in a myriad activities and experiences which helps them develop a wide range of skills. By learning through play, they learn essential numeracy and literacy skills, as well as communication skills and cognitive skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.
By participating in physical activities, children hone their fine and gross motor skills plus they learn about things like taking risks, resilience and overcoming fear. If a child is particularly shy or introspective, an experienced educator will gently reassure them and encourage participation and positive social interactions so that their fears can be allayed.
A good childcare environment will also provide opportunities for quiet or rest time and help those more energetic children learn how to wind down.
All of these vital skills are necessary for preparation and readiness for ‘big school’.
Quality childcare encourages and nurtures a child’s innate desire to discover their world
Every child is curious about the world around them and a quality childcare environment will support enquiry and experimentation as the child discovers new things. Even an activity as simple as picking up fallen autumn leaves and crushing them can open up opportunities for children to be creative, learn and express themselves.
A quality childcare service provider will employ experienced educators who will know exactly how to encourage each child to pursue lines of enquiry which appeal to their individual interests and which ignite their capacity – and willingness – to learn.
Quality childcare will help a child be accepted unconditionally
For a child to grow up to have good emotional intelligence, to have empathy for others, to have strong social skills, to be engaged and responsive and to have respect for others regardless of diversity or difference, they need to start off in a high-quality childcare environment.
If toddlers and young children are treated with respect and empathy and if they’re actively encouraged to treat others the same way, they’re likely to exhibit these same qualities as they grow older.
High quality childcare programmes help children:
- Develop social, emotional, mathematical, pre-literacy, cognitive and physical skills
- Develop better reasoning and problem-solving abilities
- Have better language and communication skills
- Become familiar with concepts like routines, behaviour expectations, teamwork and quiet time
- Have positive social interactions and learn to form friendships
- Lay the foundation for healthy growth, development and learning over the long-term
A child in an early learning environment which is nurturing and stimulating and where creativity and learning are actively promoted will have a strong start to life – and will be more likely to thrive when they make the move to school and onto adulthood.
Further reading: Use these tips to prepare your child for a childcare centre.