So much of parenthood, especially in the early years, is an ongoing effort to ensure you are making the best possible choices for your child. And, with the prevalence of options and information, it’s hard to discern what those choices are. Chief among them—whether to enroll your child in a preschool and/or early childhood program.
But what is early childhood education? And why is it so important to your child’s first years? Early childhood education encompasses nursery and preschool years and can lay the foundation for your child to be a happy, healthy, and well-rounded individual as they begin their journey—at home and at school.
At Trinity Episcopal School, both our Les Enfants early childhood program (which welcomes children from 15 months to 4.5 years) and our preschool program (which encompasses Prekindergarten and Kindergarten) serve to provide our young learners with the safe, nurturing environment necessary to bolster their cognitive learning, as well as their social and emotional development, while fostering a sense of independence and confidence they need to become active, engaged learners for life.
The Benefits of Preschool and Early Childhood Education
The benefits of early childhood education are undeniable and wide-reaching. The early childhood learning experience employs child-centered learning that helps toddlers adjust to the routine and structure of an educational setting, while allowing them to develop social and emotional bonds that make them kinder and more communicative individuals. This play-based learning environment speaks to children in a language they understand and sets the stage for a successful academic and personal future.
1. Preparation for future learning
While early childhood programs often get conflated with daycare centers, they serve as so much more. These programs embrace playful discovery under the watchful guidance of qualified instructors and provide toddlers with a curriculum structured to prepare them for grade school and beyond.
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Experiencing discovery in these structured, yet child-led classrooms facilitates early adoption of simple and positive academic habits. Toddlers enrolled in early childhood programs readily adapt to the routines that are universal to later classroom settings and allows them to begin their educational future on solid ground.
2. Social and emotional development
Kindness and empathy are traits that are crucial to developing healthy, positive relationships in life, but they aren’t always innate parts of childhood. Rather, they are behaviors that are learned and enforced by the environment children experience. Early childhood institutions like Les Enfants at Trinity Episcopal School put teaching kindness, and other values at the forefront of their educational philosophy; this allows toddlers to learn and grow academically and socially.
Children who are enrolled early in an environment of kindness and community learn to not only recognize feelings and emotional needs within themselves, but can practice patience, cooperation, and communication skills that are so essential to building healthy relationships throughout life.
Children enrolled at Trinity Episcopal School are taught with a faith-based approach to early childhood education, in which we strive to instill a sense of community and peer responsibility and accountability. Children in our Les Enfants and preschool programs learn and grow in an environment that reinforces their place in today’s world; they learn to stand up for themselves and their peers. They develop a connection to their community and a global worldview based on diversity, tolerance, and inclusion. These “empathetic upstanders” continue onto higher education—and life—as individuals who make the world a better place each and every day.
3. Play-based learning
Play-based early childhood education programs, like that of our Les Enfants and preschool programs, are centered greatly on each individual child and their needs and interests. Children in these programs are treated as explorers, and teachers as facilitators, tasked with encouraging their students’ natural curiosity as they engage their environment and experience natural problem-solving and discovery.
With play serving as the context for learning, our students discover an enthusiasm for exploration and discovery and ultimately, academics This early childhood education experience makes learning fun for our youngest students and creates enthusiastic learners for life.
4. Communication skills
Social and emotional intelligence go hand-in-hand with the ability to effectively express oneself. So it should come as no surprise that early childhood education is an incredible way to foster and develop children’s communication skills. Within early childhood education programs, particularly play-based institutions, children learn not only to communicate effectively, but to truly listen.
As they play with their peers, conversation happens organically, and as they successfully narrate their story and the story of others, their vocabulary and their ability to effectively communicate grows by leaps and bounds.
5. Knowledgeable teachers
Knowledgeable and invested teachers are one of the most crucial and beneficial components of enrolling your child in an early childhood education program. The “it takes a village” adage is time-worn but nonetheless true, and the teachers in the early childhood program you choose quickly become part of your team. When children spend their days at school, their educational environment becomes just as influential in the progress and development of their lives as their home.
Knowing this, Trinity Episcopal School’s Les Enfants and preschool programs work to create a bridge between school and home. Parents are encouraged to view teachers as a resource in their child’s overall development. Likewise, parents are viewed as an integral part of their child’s educational journey. This relationship between instructor and parent is built on respect and trust, allowing parent and school to act as a team and ensuring children are well-rounded and primed for what lies ahead.
How to Decide What's Best for Your Child
No matter how reputable the institution, making the decision to move your child from being solely at home to an early childhood education program is a difficult one. For this reason, it’ is important you spend as much time as you need to learn about the culture, philosophy, and the environment in which your child will be learning and growing. You’ll want to meet the administration, speak with other parents whose children are currently enrolled, and ask as many questions as possible. Great questions to ask include:
- Is the daily schedule flexible? The daily schedule at Trinity Episcopal School is flexible and built to accommodate the busy and ever-changing schedules of our families.
- Is there an element of faith within the curriculum? Trinity Episcopal School’s philosophy is based upon faith being an integral part of your child’s personal and educational development.
- How do you individualize the curriculum for each student? Given that each child will have different levels of abilities and interests, teachers create activities that will vary in difficulty and desired outcomes. We also ask guiding questions and stimulate thinking that will ensure that each student is challenged while having fun as they prepare for their future.
- What does a typical day look like? A typical day may include circle time/morning meeting, teacher guided small group activities, inside and outside play, snack, lunch, rest and closing circle. Additionally, at Les Enfants morning enrichment classes such as music, French, PE and chapel, are held each week
- How much is tuition and what is included in the cost? The current tuition rates and schedule options for Les Enfants can be found here.
Ultimately, you want to ensure your child has a well-rounded, thoughtful educational start and picking the right early-childhood education program ensures they start on the best foot possible. Students who join an environment of playful discovery, support, and diversity find themselves with the social, emotional, communicative, and academic strengths needed to succeed at school, and in life.