Human beings start learning about the world around them from the time they are born. The brain tries to register all this information and make sense of it. This is the process through which the intellectual development of a child takes place. We learn a lot when we are young; in fact, we learn to crawl, walk and talk – all activities characteristic of a human being –at a young age. Research has shown that it is easier to learn a new language when we are young. Early childhood education is a make-or-break stage which moulds a child’s character for the rest of their life.
Children who come from vulnerable backgrounds, such as poverty and illiterate families, must meet additional requirements to be successful in their surroundings. Children are successful in formal education only when their pre-school foundations are strong. Children learn to be comfortable in their environments when they are taught to understand their surroundings from an early age.
Unfortunately, parents from underprivileged backgrounds do not have the resources to send their children to pre-school. Such children may grow up neglected from an early age and may turn towards violence later in their lives. The Perry School Project is a good example, illustrating the importance of early childhood education. Conducted in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, young children were chosen from low-income homes and assigned to pre-school education. Results showed that children who received pre-school education were less likely to become offenders in adulthood, compared to children who were not chosen for the program.
In Africa, children require greater pre-school educational support because of the pronounced difficulties they face while growing up in vulnerable communities. To a large extent, pre-school education would prevent future difficulties with the lawas adults.When children take part in pre-school activities, they learn about their surroundings and their brains develop cognitively. Mid-day meal programmes can also be provided in pre-school, acting as incentives to attract children from low-income families to attend school.
Attending pre-school and receiving a quality early education gives children a head-start to excelin their schools and communities as a whole. The cost of pre-schools is significantly lower than higher education primary and secondary schools because the teachers may not be formally trained or educated. In poorer areas, local volunteers can take time off to teach children the basics of language and entertain them with games, ensuring a learning environment.
The importance of pre-school education, especially for children from low-income families, cannot be stressed enough. This could make or break their future. Pre-school education proves to be a very strong foundation for formal education and exposure to the external world. We must all contribute towards early education among disadvantaged groups as it helps the children assimilate into society and mature into responsible citizens.