This lesson is about current trends in early childhood education.
We will outline three current trends in early childhood education and discuss what these trends look like in the classroom and how these trends impact student learning.
Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education developmentally prepares students for K-12 educational experiences. This exposure helps students build the necessary skills they will need to utilize in learning opportunities as they embark upon their journey to become lifelong learners. The current trends outlined in this lesson include early literacy, science education, and integrated curriculum.
Early literacy is a current trend in early childhood education that prepares students for the future development of reading and writing skills. Exposing young children to letters, sounds, vocabulary, and the retelling of stories prepares them to build foundational literacy skills. In an early childhood classroom, the teacher reads stories and the students engage in interactive dialog with the teacher about the pictures and events that happen in the story. This may include making predictions and retelling story events. These types of activities develop children’s listening and speaking skills and help them to become familiar with the initial concepts of print. The initial concepts of print include reading from left to right, an understanding that words communicate a message, and grasping that the illustrations match the print.
To set the stage for the kindergarten through 12th grade science learning environment, children in early childhood education are often exposed to science concepts to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Children in these environments use inquiry to ask questions and to form conclusions. This often happens when children make observations and have the opportunity to discuss what they notice. The National Science Teachers Association describes the importance of engaging children in their early years in experiential learning opportunities that promote investigation, exploration, experimentation, and inquiry. For example, students in early childhood often experience how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. By watching this transformation, students are able to discuss their observations and ask various questions about what they notice.
Experiences such as these help children to develop an understanding of inquiry based learning, which is an essential skill in science education.
Integrated curriculum refers to making connections and understanding the relationships between subject areas, which is an important concept that helps prepare students for future learning experiences. As previously noted, children in early childhood learning environments experience science and literacy, which often takes place at the same time with additional content areas such as math. For example, the teacher may read a story about a child who doesn’t understand why some of the toys he plays with in the pool float and others sink. Students could investigate what items would be good pool toys for a child to dive for.
This investigation could be further integrated with math where students could create a graph of items that float and items that sink. Integrated learning encourages children to make connections and deepens their understanding of the concepts being presented. As such, concepts are not learned in isolation, which makes them seem more relevant and interesting.
Current trends in early childhood education include incorporating early literacy, introducing children to science education, and exposing kids to an integrated curriculum. These trends help students to prepare for future learning experiences in the K-12 environment.
Early literacy helps students discover and explore the foundations of reading and writing. Science education incorporates developing inquiry skills to explore and create explanations for scientific phenomenon. An integrated curriculum provides students with opportunities to learn by making connections to additional content areas. Together, these trends provide students in early childhood education with skills they will be able to apply to their future learning experiences.