Early years of education is not a recent phenomenon. The first publicly funded programme was formed in 1965 in United States. It is considered the most important period of every child’s life as the emotional, physical and social development in this period will have direct impact upon the adult of the future.
The most important skills which ought to be learnt by a child from birth till the age of 8 years are communication, controlling behaviour, self discipline use of body respect for others, respect for relationships, decision making by practice and with the support of environment. There are certain conditions that a parent/adult must be aware of while dealing with the child particularly in this period of growth.
Public schools generally have certain sets of rules for the students to follow. Unfortunately, the concept of teacher training for early learning isn’t a very popular idea in this set-up. As a result, all students are treated in the same manner. Meaning without having specific needs of the child identified
When we look at the skills learnt in early years and when we observe the individual and collective attitude of society, the lack of these skills is clearly evident. When we talk about communication, it is the first step of a child to get connected with the new environment and it begins with listening. We have been listening to the recent debates that the mother tongue must be preferred in early years as the child learns the best. Unfortunately, English is the parameter generally to measure the capability of a person and a symbol of intelligence. A general trend observed is that the language spoken to the children in early years initially at home is a blend of Urdu, English and of course the mother tongue. As a result, the child isn’t learning any of the languages completely, though scientifically it is proven that a child can easily learn four languages at a time. The child when moves to the school a new twist in the story In public schools. English turns out to be a horror as medium of instruction is Urdu and in private English medium schools Urdu is the challenge as the medium of instruction is English. Similarly, in public schools more stress is on writing and less effort for communication.
The second important learning of early years education is controlling behaviour and self discipline. Unfortunately, parents never realise that a three year old child is learning a lot by copying, observing the parent/adult and even the smallest gesture of annoyance anger, aggression can make the child learn the same.
Public schools generally have certain sets of rules for the students to follow. Unfortunately, the element of teachers training for early years isn’t a very popular idea as far as public schools are concerned. As a result, all the students are treated in the same manner without identification of the specific need of the child. Imposed discipline as evident from its name is by use of force and the techniques based on punishments. Since the child is young, fragile and unable to resist at this stage, all pleasant and unpleasant experiences are stored in the subconscious.
The third and key learning is conflict resolution and decision making. Our societal set up, family pressures, norms values the joint family system do not let the child learn how to resolve conflict and take an appropriate decision at a proper time.
Physical activities such as games train you for conflict resolution, decision making, respect for others. Public schools do have big grounds but the home based schools limit the moment of kids into small rooms mostly sitting, eating and a very shot play break depriving them of the opportunity to learn all these skills.
A research study by involving the students of education would help a lot in diagnosing the key areas to be worked upon, keeping in view the social and cultural background of the particular area. Academia research students should be involved to conduct research studies on the students of primary grades and highlighted areas of improvement should be incorporated in the agenda of teachers training on early years education.
The KP provincial government recently took a decision that only female teachers would be handling the primary schools of both boys and girls. The step seems a positive to some extent, but if appropriate training sessions are arranged for both male and female teachers of primary level during early years of education, both students and teachers will benefit.
And last but not the least, media must take its responsibility in raising awareness on the importance of early years education as that is the key to transform us into an organised nation.
Gul, Shagufta. Importance of early learning education. Daily Times, August 17, 2017.