Early Childhood Education has a number of benefits, including creating early opportunities for social behaviour and aiding socialization. Childcare in the early years can also contribute to a variety of cognitive skills including literacy and numeracy, which will be the focus of today’s post.
Literacy is supported in early childhood education in a number of ways, but in order to examine these processes, we first have to understand what literacy and numeracy are. Literacy can be understood as those skills associated with understanding language, both written and spoken, and effectively communicating those understandings with others. Numeracy is about the same kind of understanding but instead of focusing on language, numeracy focuses on numbers. Literacy and numeracy are skills that we use throughout our lifespan.
Early exposure to books and reading can be beneficial in a number of ways. It can help with:
- Language acquisition
- School readiness
- Learning to read later on
- Promote general health
- As well as provide warm and positive interactions between caregivers and children through the reading of stories.
Ways to expose children to literacy skills in the early years include:
- Reading books aloud together (when doing this, it is beneficial to read with exaggerated inflection and different voices for different characters in the stories)
- Allowing children to read independently
- Exposure to language through song
- Explicit development of reading skills such as focusing on letters, their sounds, and the formation of words
Early exposure to numeracy can help with:
- The use of mathematics in the real world
- Preparation for acquiring, learning, and fully understanding mathematics skills later on
- Aid problem-solving skills
Ways to expose children to numeracy skills in the early years include:
- Allowing play that incorporates numeracy
- Asking questions about numeric play (for more on this watch this video on child play and math)
- Using ‘math talk” in everyday interactions
- Explicit numeracy practice such as counting, organizing, working with geometric shapes
- Indirect numeracy practice through things such as cooking with parents/caregiver
Basically, the benefits of child care extend to the lifelong skills of literacy and numeracy, which can be practiced in the early childhood education environment in very simple, everyday ways.