Principles of Early Learning and Development and its Implications for Practice

Principles of Early Learning and Development and its Implications for Practice -Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Curriculum Framework

The principles and practices relevant for learning and development in the early years are based on the insights and observations of thinkers and evidences from researches. Each of the principle elaborates specific ideas and at the same time they are all interconnected like the domains of development. The practical implications for each of the principle will also be influenced by the culture and individual prerequisites.

3.1 Development and learning takes place in all domains, development in one domain influences the other domain:

Children are thinking, feeling and interacting human beings and it is important to address all domains for their development. Changes or development in one domain facilitates or hinders the development of another domain.

3.2 Children’s development and learning follows a sequence in which later acquired abilities (skills and concepts) build upon what children already know and apply.

In the first few years of life the growth, change and development mostly follow a predictable pattern; however the way these changes are demonstrated varies in different context and culture. Knowledge of known sequence of development enables in developing early stimulation activities and curricular planning for children.

3.3 Child Development and Learning are characterized by individual variation:

While learning and development follows a predictable pattern there may be individual variation in the normative course of development as well as uniqueness of each child as an individual. No two children, even within the same family are the same. Each child has an individual pattern and timing of growth and development as well as individual styles of learning. Each individual child has his/her own strengths.

3.4 Children develop holistically and benefit from experiential learning:

This simply means that children learn best through active exploration using the senses such as touch, taste, smell and manipulation to build perceptual skills. Children should be actively interested and engaged in their learning with a high sense of motivation and positive disposition to explore and build skills across various domains.

3.5 Learning begins from birth:

From birth onwards children are mentally and physically active. They learn through all their senses and stimulations. Early care and stimulations whether positive or negative have a cumulative impact on children’s development. Since care and early stimulation promotes brain development and leads to the forming neural connections, it is imperative that children are provided with optimal stimulation in the early years and prevent cumulative deficit in the long run.

3.6 Development and learning result from a continuous interaction of biological maturation and experience.

A child has genetic endowments which may predict healthy growth, but inadequate nutrition in the early years of life will keep this potential from being fulfilled. On the other hand if the child is suffering from an inherent condition, then the detrimental impact learning and development can be minimized through systematic, individualized intervention. With this perspective in mind, it is important for early childhood educators to maintain high expectations and employ all their knowledge, ingenuity, and persistence to find ways to help every child succeed.

3.7 There are critical periods in development:

Research evidences reveal that some aspects of development occur most efficiently at certain points in the life span. For example the optimal period for oral language development in children is in the first three years of life, peer social skills are developed effectively during 3-5 years of life etc. Thus it is important to use these “windows of opportunity” and ensure that the children get the needed environmental inputs and supports for a particular kind of learning and development at its “prime time” for desired outcomes.

3.8 Children’s learning reflects a recurring spiral that begins in awareness, and moves to exploration, to inquiry, and finally, to application:

Any new learning by children begins with awareness, which is generated from their experiences with objects, events, or people and ends with utilization, where children are able to use what they have learnt for multiple purposes and apply their learning to new situations. At this stage children start exploring the next level of information and the spiral continues. Children with disabilities show a great degree of individual variations and the curriculum should make suitable adaptations to ensure that children are provided developmentally appropriate materials and experiences.

3.9 Children learn and develop in a stimulating/nurturing/supportive/protective environment:

During the early years of life, children move from sensory or behavioural responses to symbolic or representational knowledge. They learn within a social context and from meaningful interactions with other children, adults and materials around them. Throughout the early years, adults must provide a nurturing environment and play significant roles in helping children learn to develop empathy and cooperation, cultural socialization and self-regulation, language acquisition and communication, peer relationships, self- concept and identity formations.

3.10. Development and learning is largely influenced by the social and cultural context of the children.

Development and learning of children happens hand in hand and it largely depends on the influence of the child’s family, immediate environment, the community and at a broader level the society. Every culture has its own norms, structures and behaviours and more so each culture has its own way of interpreting children’s behaviour and development in its own way. Educators must be sensitive how their own culture has shaped their thinking and also consider the multiple environments in which different children live and how they need to be considered while making decision for children’s development and learning.

3.11 Children’s have curiosity and desire to learn:

Children are curious and have an innate desire to learn. Children observe what happens, talk, discuss and reflecting on their findings, stretch their imagination for possibilities, ask questions, and formulate answers. While exploring and learning young children construct their knowledge and understanding of the world, they learn as well as from teachers, family members, peers and older children, and from books and other media. To enable these ECCE teachers/caregivers must use multiple teaching strategies in meeting children’s different learning needs.

3.12 Children learn through play:

 Play is central to the child’s well-being and development. Children’s spontaneous play provides opportunities for exploration, experimentation, manipulation and problem solving that are essential for constructing knowledge. Play contributes to the development of representational as well as abstract thought. Children engage in various kinds of play, such as physical play, language play, object play, pretend or dramatic play, constructive play, and games with rules. This further influences their motivation, disposition and approaches to learning. Developing positive approaches to learning goes a long way to determine later academic success in life. Adults must provide opportunities for children to explore play and apply.

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Ministry of Women and Child Development