Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education (also early childhood learning and early education) refers to the formal teaching of young children by people outside the family or in settings outside the home. "Early childhood" is usually defined as before the age of normal schooling – five years in most nations, though the U.S. National Association for the Education of Young Children defines "early childhood" as before the age of eight
Childhood education often focuses on children learning through play, based on the research and philosophy of Jean Piaget. This belief is centered on the "power of play". It is thought that children learn more efficiently and gain more knowledge through play-based activities such as dramatic play, art, and social games. This theory plays stems children's natural curiosity and tendencies to "make believe", mixing in educational lessons.
Preschool education and kindergarten emphasize learning around the ages of 3–6 years. The terms "day care" and "child care" do not convey the educational aspects, although many childcare centers are now using more educational approaches. The distinction between childcare centers and kindergartens has all but disappeared in countries that require staff in different early childhood facilities to have a teaching qualification.
Researchers and early childhood educators both view the parents as an integral part of the early childhood education process. Often educators refer to parents as the child's "first and best teacher".
Much of the first two years of life are spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self"; most children are able to differentiate between themselves and others by their second year. This is a crucial part of the child's ability to determine how they should function in relation to other people. Early care must emphasize links to family, home culture, and home language by uniquely caring for each child.[according to...