Karen Clince, founder of Tigers Childcare is back with another fantastic article on how we can support our preschoolers learning at home. Click here for more insightful articles on early years education from Karen – a must-read for parents of children under 5.

It has long been known that good quality pre-school education has a long-lasting, positive effect on children, this is even more apparent with children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Research in this area led government to introduce funded pre-school places for all children aged 3 to 4 years from 2010. Funding for 2-year-olds has been introduced to marginalised communities now we have a better understanding of how early years education impacts kids from different backgrounds.

Why is preschool so good, and how can it benefit a child from starting a formal education early?

There is nothing formal about early years

Early years education is based around play and children learn best through play. Pre-school education uses play to help children figure out the world around them. Early years educators are trained in using this play to extend learning and plan for each child’s next steps.

Communication skills and social development

Children of 2 and 3 years can be very egotistical and feel the world is all about them, and pre-school is often the first time they have to negotiate their peers’ feelings. Children learn to communicate and work out problems in pre-school. They learn to share and play with others and self-regulate. It is much more important that a child is socially, rather than academically, ready for school. Furthermore, children with additional language needs benefit greatly by being immersed in the English language prior to their school start.

Building bonds

When children are very young, they develop bonds and attachments to those who care most closely with them – mainly with family or primary caregivers. As they get older, it is important that they start to build relationships with people outside the home. Good quality early years settings usually operate a key worker system which will aid this process. This is a person assigned to an individual child to build a strong trusting relationship with that child and their primary caregivers.

Cognitive development and EYFS

The Early Years Foundation Stages framework (EYFS) provides a curriculum framework of learning that follows into the primary school curriculum. Children will be introduced to new concepts and cognitive building blocks which lead to better outcomes in the primary years.

Children with additional needs

Additional needs can be picked up early in pre-school which, with early intervention, can lead to better long-term outcomes.

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Now that we know the benefits of good quality early years education, how can you as a parent make sure you get the best out of the available year?

The Government recently commissioned research into the 10-year rollout of the pre-school year. One unexpected finding was that the child’s outcomes were not just impacted by the setting and the quality of the setting, but also by parental involvement and support. So, knowing this, what can a parent do to support their child’s learning and outcomes?

  • Tell your pre-school all about your child: If you are given an information form to fill about your child, it is important that you provide as much information about your child as is possible. The more a key worker knows about your child and your family, the more they can understand your child. This helps to nurture that bond between key worker and child.
  • Learn about your pre-school: Get to know your key worker. Ask about the best way to communicate and share information from home. Many pre-schools now have communication applications that can be downloaded that provide parents with information about how their child is getting on, what they did that day, or what they are planning for your child.

Support class activities with books or play at home

It is helpful if you contribute to the conversation. For instance, a key worker may observe that your child is showing a keen interest in dinosaurs. You may have also noticed this at home. While a key worker may be planning activities in the class, you could be aiding this by reading books about dinosaurs or planning a dinosaur activity at home.

  • Behaviour management: Ask the key worker how they deal with negative behaviour and try to mirror a similar style at home. Consistency in approach can be really helpful to a child’s understanding and self-regulation.
  • Remember learning is fun and sometimes doesn’t feel like learning: Let a child help you at home. For example, ask them to help you to sort the socks in the washing, help you unload the cutlery in the dishwasher or even help you find things in the supermarket. All these tasks are informal ways of improving communication and help with literacy and numeracy.
  • Independence: Allow your child to start to do age-appropriate care tasks alone. These can include tidying up their toys, putting on their coat and shoes, starting to help brush their teeth – all skills which, if started and tackled in pre-school, can really help with the transition to big school.
  • Let children solve problems: Don’t just jump in. Let children figure things out themselves. Ask them ‘what do you think’ questions? If struggling with a task, wait until they ask for assistance before coming to their aid.

Preschool is a great start to school life

Remember, pre-school can be a big step for many families. However, research shows it can provide children with a great start to their school life, and you as the parents and main caregivers can have a significant impact upon this time. Try to remember it is all about building blocks and the most important building blocks at this stage are social and emotional. Children do better when they go to primary school socially and emotionally strong. Literacy and numeracy are important, but again it is about core concepts rather than reading and writing prior to their school start. Remember you can build a lovely house without foundations. However, even one strong storm can have an impact. A strong foundation, built upon over time, will stand strong against even the toughest storms.

Good quality early years care and education allow a child to set the roots for learning, allowing them to establish strong foundations for the road ahead.

Article by Karen Clince, founder of Tigers Childcare

About Tigers Childcare

Tigers Childcare provides high-quality early education and care for children age 4 months to 13 years.

We understand the importance of these early years in a child’s life. We provide high-quality environments, interactions and experiences that help each child reach their own potential. Your child’s entry into our programme marks a wonderful journey for both you and your child. Although this may be your child’s first experience of group learning, we see each child as an individual and their journey as unique.

Tigers Childcare has a new site in the heart of London. Elephant Park is their flagship location and caters for children from birth to 6 years’ old.

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