Though early childhood programs aren't mandatory, they can benefit children. The main goal of an early childhood program is to help children develop cognitively and socially, introduce them to the school setting and prepare them for elementary school. Through early childhood programs, children gain long-lasting academic and social benefits that will benefit them throughout their lives. To run an effective program, an early childhood centre should set specific goals and objectives.
Academic Skills Development
One of the primary goals and objectives of a quality early childhood program should be academic skills development. Educators and administrators of the program should determine academic skills that they want children to gain and should plan age-appropriate lessons and activities that present these skills in an engaging way. Some of the main academic skills that children should begin to develop in an early childhood program include literacy, mathematics, science and even social studies. Once the academic goals are set, a curriculum that incorporates interesting and entertaining activities that will help foster these goals should be created. Lessons and activities should be hands-on and encourage children to investigate and learn.
Motor Skill Development
During early childhood, children's bodies are developing at a rapid rate. This is why another goal of an early childhood program should be to develop gross and fine motor skills in a safe and appealing way. To develop gross motor skills, or skills involving the large muscles of the body, an early childhood program should offer activities that work those muscles: jumping, running, kicking, throwing and hopping, for example. Games and physical fitness activities should be incorporated into the program to promote this type of muscle growth. Fine motor skills refer to the small muscles in the hands and allow for dexterity. Activities that an early childhood program can use to promote growth of these muscles include beading, lacing cards, zippering and other arts and crafts activities.
Social skills are vital for success in academics and in life in general and as such, social skill development should be a major goal of an early childhood program. An effective program will teach children how to work together cooperatively, as well as teach them how to accept and appreciate one another. Early childhood programs should offer activities that focus on socialisation, such as playing together, working on projects together and learning from one another.
Language development is crucial in young children, as they are learning how to form words and use these words properly at this age. Providing children with opportunities to develop their language skills at this age will help them learn how to become effective communicators. An early childhood program should focus on language development and can do so in a variety of ways. Teachers can read stories aloud to students, introduce new items and their names and encourage children to use their words to express their feelings and emotions in a positive way.
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