Born ready to learn, babies and young children absorb information through everyday play and exploration. Naturally curious about their world, a child’s brain development is at its peak during the first five years of life.
Early childhood education can bring lifelong benefits such as the development of executive function skills. Staying focused, following instructions, problem-solving, using self-control, multi-tasking and knowing the difference between inside and outside voices are just some of the skills known as executive function.
The foundation of a child’s executive function skills start to develop by 12 months and continue to do so during early childhood and schooling years.
‘‘Executive function skills can be applied to any age in infancy onwards; they are the basis of the child’s fundamental human skills for life,’’ says Felicity Hall, group business director of Platypus Junction.
‘‘Our genes supply the blueprint for learning these skills, but they develop through experiences and practices.
‘‘Learning and practising these skills is particularly important during the kindergarten years (three- to five-years-old) to prepare for school.
‘‘It’s through teaching children how to negotiate and self-regulate; for instance, taking turns with peers or playing games where they physically have to follow a set of steps. These play-based learning examples really build that executive function needed to transition to school.’’
Privately owned and family operated since 1995, Platypus Junction is an early learning centre for babies through to four-year-olds. ‘‘Kindergarten is a very exciting and unique year for a child,’’ says Hall. ‘‘A child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity at this age are powerful foundations for establishing lifelong learning skills. ‘‘The array of different interactions and experiences for the child in that preschool year is essential to underpinning those functioning skills for transitioning into a school journey, then onto their adolescent years and into adulthood.’’ Difficulties with executive function can create challenges with learning. Children who learn and think differently can struggle with executive function but this does not mean they are less intelligent than their peers.
Kindergarten is a very exciting and unique year for a four-year-old child.
Although executive function skills usually develop quickly in early childhood, with strategies and support in place, they can improve with practice, Hall says.
Development of a child’s executive function skills benefit from establishing routines, modelling social behaviour, creating and maintaining supportive, reliable relationships and activities that encourage creative play, social connection and teach tools to cope with stress.
‘‘At Platypus Junction each child is offered a caring and individual early learning experience through programs that encourage imaginative learning through play, fundamental executive life skills and a strong sense of wellbeing,’’ says Hall.
‘‘We are able to create wonderful life experiences for children that can shape the child’s learning function. With executive function in mind, we deliver dynamic, age appropriate and individualised programs for children.’’
Platypus Junction undertakes early learning assessments for each child which are shared with parents in an online journal.
‘‘Images of your child and their learning development information is shared via the Story Park Program, which enables parents and caregivers’ direct connection with their child’s group learning and experiences each day.’’
‘‘Regularly throughout the year, we have parent-educator interaction, where we go through the developmental needs of each child, talk about where they are at, where we could improve and how we can support that child,’’ says Hall.
Source: The Age