Believe it or not, but babies start learning straight out of the womb. Studies show that 85% of brain weight is formed by just age five (The Huffington Post). It’s therefore paramount that children get a solid educational foundation before they even enter pre-school. Early childhood development is also a fascinating field of study, especially if you’re thinking about entering education. Here is what some of the studies have to say.
There’s more to Mozart
Recent studies show that early childhood music lessons my lead to changes in the brain, which persist years after lessons have stopped (TIME). One study, in particular, recorded auditory brainstem responses of college students. It concluded that those students who had learnt to play instruments in early childhood fared far better in the responses. In addition, their responses were the same whether they continued with lessons at college age or if lessons had stopped years prior. According to TIME, this brain development – aided by music – helps strengthen memory and the ability to make sound-to-meaning connections. This, in turn, assists with early speech recognition and written language learning.
Play is pivotal
Education isn’t only about learning how to read and write or how to add and subtract. The most effective learning happens when children are simply being children. This may sound obvious, but there’s a growing trend (especially in developed countries, like the US, for example), for parents to enrol their kids into so-called “academic pre-schools”. The reasoning behind this is that a prestigious pre-school will eventually lead to acceptance into a top university.
However, according to the book Academic Instruction in Early Childhood: Challenge or Pressure, research shows that this is a precarious path to take, as academic pre-schoolers are generally anxious and have low self-esteem. Instead, early education should include a lot of play, which encourages imagination, taking turns, socialisation, and self-control (TIME).
Numerous studies show that when it comes to language acquisition, young children possess an almost magical ability. According to an article in BaltimoreStyle.com, all babies are born able to tell sounds apart from all languages. Their brains are basically hard-wired to learn language – any tongue – at lightening speed. Initially, they tune into their mother’s or main caregiver’s language, and by the time they’re one year old, their mysterious sound differentiation ability suddenly disappears. The theory has it that if children are exposed to multiple languages during this window (for example English, French, and Mandarin), they’ll pick all of them up, for good.
If you’re interested in this area of study, you can do a Diploma of Children’s Services (specialising in Early Childhood Education and Care). This qualification is available through TAFE institutions across Australia, including WA. Enrol in a TAFE course today, and learn how to educate children, before they even set foot in a school.
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Written by Ang Lloyd on behalf of Now Learning, an Australian-based education portal that promotes a variety of learning opportunities, including online and classroom-based TAFE courses in Western Australia.