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Early Childhood Education Programs – How they are Different?

Last updated on January 28th, 2018 at 01:34 pm

Early Childhood Education Programs

Early Childhood Education Programs are crucial for children and brain development. During the early years of their lives, children are like sponges. They form bonds with the people who surround them and begin to the learn about the world. Their first learning experiences deeply affect their emotional, social, cognitive and sometimes physical development. What they learn about the world during the early years has the power to dictate many things you will come to know about your child as they grow older (personality, interests, etc.). By investing in a good Childhood development program, you will be setting your child up for success in the future.

Kindergarten-Readiness Behaviors

Research shows that kindergarten-readiness behaviors at the beginning of kindergarten go hand-in-hand with academic performance. Most early childhood programs and preschools will guide kids to follow classroom rules, be flexible to new routines, and be enthusiastic about learning.

The following behaviors are related to academic performance:

1. Pay attention well

2. Learn independently

3. Persist in completing tasks

4. Organize belongings

5. Adapt easily to change

6. Show eagerness to learn new things

7. Follow classroom rules

Role of Early Childhood Education Programs in our Children’s Development.

Early Childhood Education Programs are often downplayed but play a critical role in our children’s development. Bringing children together with their peers, to be led by someone other than a parent/guardian, from a young age helps children develop essential 21st-century skills such as cooperation, listening and independence. By enacting a well-constructed educational program that includes benchmarks of success, teachers will be better able to identify those kids who fail to meet the benchmarks and may require early special education. Early identification of students who require an alternative educational approach can be life-saving.



For example, in many pre-k settings, skilled teachers pay attention to students who do not meet certain educational criteria and start reflecting on what those weaknesses tell us. There are tell-tale signs for students who may be dyslexic, such as difficulty remembering letter or number names. When these children are identified early and receive the proper education, they are often reading by second grade, rather than facing years of trying to catch up (too often unsuccessfully) when identification occurs later after more evident signs of falling behind.

As leaders in education around the world, we have seen that structured Programs give children an opportunity to explore new environments and try new activities that they otherwise may not have access or exposure to. These seemingly insignificant activities challenge the children to grow in ways that aren’t easily measured preparing them to be more successful in school.

Barbara Harvey Bio

Barbara Harvey is an expert in Parent Development and Early Childhood. Barbara started her teaching career after graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science from Harris-Stowe University in Elementary Education. She obtained her Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Oral Roberts University. You can connect with her on her blog,, twitter, @educatepta1, and LinkedIn profile.

I started my career as a First Grade teacher and loved it. Two years later I went to get my Masters’ degree. I was shocked when I had to set aside my Elementary learning to get Early Childhood. I knew that as an undergraduate the difference was 90 semester hours. But I did not know the two fields are so diametrically different that it is amazing they share the same field.

Why is teaching people about early childhood education important? The general public does not understand what early education is about. Even the parents we serve do not fully understand. It is like any other profession we get it, but the education establishment is infamous for not educating others in what we do or why.

Three reasons why Early Childhood is Essential.

1. Children learn and develop along the same patterns of development no matter how quickly. Early Childhood professionals recognize rather early when a child needs extra help and can assist parents to ensure their kids get the best help as soon as possible.

2. Social Development is more than just kids getting along with others. It talks about emotional intelligence, development of self-confidence, the ability to be able to put things away where they belong, and develop self-control. Early Childhood Education programs are designed to meet these needs.

3. Most people do not realize there are skills required in elementary school, which are developed in early childhood education. These skills which I call pre-skills need to be developed up before they go to Kindergarten.
The reason it’s sticky is that if a child is in a quality early childhood program, they are getting the benefit of a lot of Early Childhood professional expertise. This expertise includes teachers who are well-versed in early childhood development. Who know what to expect, how to do proper observations to help children develop, and a myriad of other things.

How Elementary and Early Childhood Education Programs are Different?

These six areas are only examples of how Elementary and Early Childhood Education Programs are different. The two forms of education are both needed and need to be understood because of Early Education is the foundation of Elementary Education. When Early Education is sacrificed for the seeming importance of what is learned in Elementary Education, then a child is building on a faulty foundation.


Elementary Education is teacher and curriculum lead. Early Education is designed around the needs of the children and where they are on the developmental scale.

Lesson Development

Elementary Education is based on instruction created by teachers in the form of formal lesson plans. In Early Education teachers use educational materials, the classroom environment, and open-ended questions to help children learn concepts.

Teaching Methods

Elementary Education uses a variety of paper and pencil exercises to test children’s understanding of the curriculum.  Class work, homework, re-teaching, tests etc. Early Education uses observation, open-ended questions, and developmental checklists to determine how children are growing and learning.

Children’s Learning

Elementary Education is concentrated on a specific set of subjects that have particular criteria reading, math, science, etc. The goal is to get children to master these criteria. Early Childhood Education Programs concentrates more on the four domains of development.i.e. physical/motor, social/emotional, language, and intellectual, and getting children to master these at their age level.

Teaching Materials

Elementary Education uses paper and pencil standardized testing to take a snapshot of how children are learning the information they are taught. Early Education  uses teacher questionnaires, children’s ability to do certain developmental activities, parent questionnaires and observations to get a snapshot of how children are developing and learning.

Classroom Engagement

Elementary Education expects children to sit, pay attention, raise their hands, ask questions, and use books, pencils, and paper to learn. Early Education children are expected to engage in “play” or explore children think out loud. They use materials to think through observations, plan activities, and explore the world of their classrooms.

Quality of Early Childhood Education Programs

Less than 2% of Early Childhood centers in the nation carry an accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. To gain this particular accreditation Early Childhood centers usually take between two and five years to develop all of the skills necessary to create a quality program. Quality Early Childhood Programs are not built by accident it takes careful thought and real team work.

Children in the center gain all wonderful and continued support in their development. However, in most cases, I would say in 75% of the cases children are being watched and cared for but not educated. Ultimately the real question is are parents seeking out and finding true quality in early childhood programs to ensure that their children are getting the best possible care and education.

Related Articles

Early Intervention in Child Education Programs – Dr. Oksana Hagerty.
Early Childhood Intervention – An Introduction.
Danielle Lindner on Early Childhood Education.

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Early Childhood Education Programs - How they are Different?
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Early Childhood Education Programs - How they are Different?
The two forms of education are both needed and need to be understood, Early Childhood Education programs are the foundation of Elementary Education.
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