In such difficult economic times many parents would see it as a privilege to be a stay-at-home parent in America, and would be considered truly lucky. With thirty years of economic policies that have decimated the middle class, the majority of American households today require two incomes, meaning that young children must usually be relegated to daycare facilities or preschools.
Of those fortunate parents raising their children naturally, many wish to take full advantage of this opportunity by attempting to give their children a head start on learning; reading to them, engaging in educational play activities, encouraging them to read, and more. Unfortunately, very few parents can do it all.
Young children can greatly benefit from attendance at a certified day care, operated by trained, certified early childhood educators. A preschool teacher cannot replace a parent and that is not the goal of a certified day care program, but the experience of learning in a school setting during the early years can be a valuable supplement to a child's experience at a time when the brain is being shaped and developed.
Closing the Gaps
There is arguably no substitute for a loving parent-child relationship and daily interactions – but scientific methodology has an important place. This is where trained, certified early childhood educators can "fill the gaps" when it comes to a young child's development. For example, were you as a parent aware that there are five equally important areas of a young child's development? These are summed up by the acronym, "SPICE" – Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional.
The way a child relates to others and functions in a group setting involves social development. If you are among the increasing number of parents choosing to limit their family size to one child, the importance of socialization in a structured environment becomes apparent.
Physical development refers to building motor skills, from the gross (basic movements such as walking and running) to the fine (such as holding a writing implement).
Intellectual development is achieved through structured play, and of course means development of language and math skills as well as the child's innate sense of curiosity and wonder; Intellectual development is central to success in school later on.
Creative development addresses artistic talents in visual arts, music, storytelling and even theatrics. Although it is popular in American culture to dismiss creativity and the arts as unnecessary, creativity is the foundation self-expression and problem solving. It is arguable that without creativity, there would be no innovation nor entrepreneurship. (It was Einstein himself who said "Creativity is more important than knowledge.")
Emotional development is also frequently overlooked, even by the most devoted parents. Yet, without a sense of self, including self confidence and the discipline to deal with one's own emotional responses, a child will have difficulty functioning in society later in life.
What the future will hold
It is likely that most parents are aware of these developmental domains on an instinctive level. However, certified preschool educators are trained in the scientific theory and methodology that can make the difference between a child succeeding – and succeeding brilliantly.
Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.