The Importance of ECD


Why social budget should include the pre-schooler

Spend investment wisely

The emotional, social and physical development of a young child has a direct effect on their overall development and how they will be able to learn and therefore become ‘successful’, contributing adult. That is why understanding the need to invest in very young children is so important, to maximise their future well-being for this country.

Background

There are ten million youths in our country of which 84% of Preschoolers do not attend formal ECD programs. They enter the primary school system, with a formal education systems that are failing to develop children into creative, engaged lifelong learners who, in turn, can benefit their families, communities and country as a whole. The whole system is failing our children and our country.

We need to understand the circumstances in which these children are born – a highly stressed, traumatised living environment, with limit physical space to move around in.

The result is that these children do not develop the necessary skills to be able learners. Young children’s neural pathways need to be stimulated and strengthened.

The Goal of the program

The purpose of this remedial program is to help children stimulate the brain pathways for learning, through fun, colourful games and stories.

Neural pathways

Nerve cells are called neurons, and their job is to transmit nerve signals to and from the brain. A neural pathway is a road that information travels through to the neurons.

Neural pathways are created as we learn and gather information. Everything we do and experience from birth creates neuro pathways.

These pathways in their turn create networks, a whole highway of complex pathways. These networks help us to predict events and learn even more, through experience.

Neural pathways in the parietal-temporal and Broca’s areas are essential, for example, early reading skills, like word recognition.

It is eminent to have specific neuro pathways to be able to learn a language, spatial and self-regulatory skills (like memory). Those skills, in turn, relate to reading, writing and mathematics.

Competencies in reading, mathematics and science are associated with school achievements and adult socioeconomic status.

Crawling is a developmental stage that has been fiercely debated, but is still a developmental phase that is needed for specific neural pathways to develop. When a baby crawls it develops gross and fine motor skills (which is required for writing), spatial skills (problem solving and maths), visual skills (reading and copying), mental skills (the left and right brain have to interact, and it improves coordination and learning.)

Neural pathways can be inhibited by specific factors like malnutrition, skipping developmental stages, emotional stressors and this is just mentioning a few.

Learning

Every time we learn something new, we change our brain structure.

It is a well-known fact that play is key to emotional well-being and mental health. It is also the very best way to learn. If you want to teach a child the necessary skills they need for learning, play games that incorporate bodily movement, rhymes, stories, music and lots of fun.

Our emotions health have a tremendous impact on how we learn. When we stress, hormones are released. Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline alter the way you think, feel and behave making it difficult to take in new information. A safe space for children to learn in, where they feel relaxed and happy is paramount. Other factors that can influence effective learning is diet. Water and a balanced diet are critical. It is also imperative to move your body. It increases oxygen to the brain, and this causes the neurons to fire.

A myth that is believed by many is that intelligence is something that is fixed. The truth is that the brain has remarkable plasticity. Which means that it can change, grow and learn new things every day. Even people who have lost specific abilities can retrain the brain to regain an ability.

It is also known that the more ways we incorporate to learn, the more memory pathways are built. The more pathways are used, the thicker they become and in turn, can process information faster. It becomes like a highway that has many more lanes so that the traffic can move more quickly. So that is why learning promotes learning.

Repeating actions connects new memories to old ones, and so the brain becomes more efficient in retrieving memory and repeating an operation.

Research shows that a child’s physical and emotional experiences they have during their first five years reflect their learning ability and brain growth. That is why Early Child Development is of such importance. We need to teach children the skills they need in a safe, happy environment! This approach will result in successful learners.

Remedial Program

This program makes use of remedial training to develop the neural pathways. For instance, the palmar reflex reflects neurological communication in a baby’s body. This reflex is linked to emotional security and language development. Stimulating this area de-stresses the individual and balances the sensory input, which in turn translates into better handwriting skills.

Right, and left brain training is essential because two together works better than one on its own! Stimulating both the left and right brain hemisphere increases memory, cognitive performance and intellect. Crossing the midline is the beginning of this brain training building pathways that is prerequisite for reading and writing.

Each game and activity will help develop the primary pathway necessary to help a child to be ready to start his or her educational journey.

Feedback

The children enrolled in the remedial therapy program; were pre-evaluated and post-evaluated on all the developmental areas.

The results are very encouraging. The children’s overall performance scored up to 69% better, in all five developmental areas.

Conclusion

Why invest the bulk of social budget on ECD? Because as we can see from the results and international research, this is where we will have the most significant impact on the future of education.

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