Little learners: The benefits of early childhood education

Kinderling News & Features

For children, 90% of brain development happens by age five. With this in mind, it’s easy to see the advantages of early childhood education.

Author and social researcher Rebecca Huntley is an avid supporter, and has seen the benefits in her own life as a mum of three.

“There’s an enormous amount of brain science and paediatric research into how crucial those years are for brain development, social development and the kinds of social skills or character traits that are essential not only for children to learn later in life, but to really enjoy learning and to be able to manage things that get in the way of learning, like fear and anxiety.”

Listen to Rebecca's interview on Kinderling Conversation:

The current childhood education recommendation is 600 hours in the year before school, around 15 hours a week

Rebecca understands some parents want to keep their kids home if they can, to squeeze in ‘quality time’, but she found a balance of care – her own, with family and childcare - was really beneficial. Currently, the recommendation for early childhood education is 600 hours in the year before school, which is around 15 hours a week, so kids still have plenty of time to enjoy with mum, dad or the grandparents.

“This idea that one parent and one child at home is the way that children have always learnt and flourished [is] not true… it’s a very new development,” Rebecca points out. “Children were always raised in communities constantly around other children. They thrive in them and need to be raised in them, not only for their intellectual development, but for their emotional, social and physical development.” 

Seeing the results first-hand

Rebecca’s observed the theory become practice with her own twins currently in early childhood education and loving it.

“They’re in three days and when I get the feedback from the carers, it’s about how much they love the activities,” she says. “Drawing, numeracy and literacy is built into teamwork and I’m just not capable of doing that. I don’t have the resources at home [or] the space. It’s really important for them, their connection is so strong that here they have the opportunity to relate to other children. I think it is an enormous benefit to them and I can see it in the photos that they send and the skills they bring at home."

Rebecca believes the results of engaging in early childhood education were really evident when her eldest started school

“I remember when my eldest started school, so the first year of kindy…I was very confident at the sorts of skills, social skills in particular that she developed…there’s all these things they have to cope with – like lots and lots of big kids if they’re not used to having big kids around and all of that stuff. It’s that school readiness that year of 15 hours a week provides is really, really important.”