For students to excel in their educational journey, a solid foundation in early childcare development and the foundational phase of their schooling, Grade 000 to Grade 7, is crucial.
What is early childcare development?
Early childcare development (ECD) is more than playing with friends and colouring-in. It is a student’s first step on their educational journey. Research shows the first eight years are the most important in terms of human development. Learning at this stage is influenced by a friendly and safe environment, and it’s the time where students’ social, emotional and cognitive skills develop. What may appear as playing and colouring, is a student’s ability to develop their communication and motor skills, where creativity is fostered, and where students learn critical thinking and problem solving. These are the skills students will continue to build on, not only in their schooling but throughout life.
“In the ECD phase, emphasis should be on much more than academic excellence. Each child’s emotional, mental and physical well-being should be monitored closely so that they are ready to learn. Once this is in place, the focus should shift to concentrating on developing children who are responsible risk takers that can reason and reflect while building resilience,” said Michelle Myburgh, Principal of St Martin’s Preparatory School, a private school in the south of Johannesburg.
Teachers’ influence on their students at this early learning stage is immense, as they continue to expand their skills as they progress through each grade. This development and growth impacts how they will view education throughout their life. Without these foundational skills, students will face challenges later in life.
Investing in quality education
“It is a misconception that you should invest more in high school education rather than on early childhood development and prep school education. Without the basic principles firmly in place, children struggle with some of the basic concepts later on, especially in maths,” said Mr Hagspihl, Executive Headmaster at St Martin’s.
During the ECD and foundational phases of learning, students are encouraged to be creative, and to discover and explore through playing and learning. This helps students become problem solvers, gain confidence, learn how to collaborate, and where they can find the joy in learning.
Spending money on quality education is an investment. One South African school recognises the financial challenges many families are experiencing during these unprecedented times, and has reduced their school fees to ensure students can access quality education with highly skilled and qualified teachers.
Benefits of the foundation phase
During the foundation phase, students start to grasp challenging concepts, and their teachers can identify and address any learning concerns. Addressing this issue can prevent a gap in learning and future learning problems. And in the long-run, it can save parents money on extra lessons and tuition because the basic abilities are lacking.
A quality foundation education can help students thrive and unlock their full potential. The foundation phase is where students learn and develop valuable life skills that will help them in the real world, including,
- Social and emotional coping skills
Investing in quality education can lead to greater success for students and benefit their family, community and society. And these valuable skills can ensure that the students are ready for a world where they can easily adapt and thrive.