Early childhood education, or ECE, is an education methodology that places high importance on early development of learning skills so that children become expert learners and excel in later studies. It’s also known as nursery education. One of the main concepts of ECE is learning through play, both unstructured and guided by caregivers to help children achieve developmental goals and milestones.
In an environment engineered for efficient learning and exploration, children develop the self-confidence and awareness necessary to become independent thinkers. Through play, children learn the necessary physical and motor skills to explore their world. Social learning, language, and interpersonal skills are encouraged. Caregivers and teachers provide support by providing opportunities and challenges that engage children on levels of problem solving, creativity, imagination and memory. Games and role play encourage children to rationalize everything, interpret their experience, and to think critically about what they are doing.
The Perry Preschool Project and the Abecedarian Project both showed IQ increases in test groups of children who were enrolled in ECE. Studies have shown that children who participate in ECE are more likely to be high achievers in secondary school and more likely to attend university. There appears to be an abundance of data available to support the idea that early learning and social skill development is one of the most important things that parents can do to increase their children’s success later in life.
In 2010, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the city of Moscow organized the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education where policy was developed to achieve goals for worldwide recognition for ECE and to encourage activism in promoting its adoption. A coordinated effort by governments and non-profit groups to make ECE more widely available seems to be taking hold and capturing the attention of policy makers to the benefit of children everywhere.
Further reading (links from Concordia University ECE resources page):