It’s hard to imagine that just a generation ago early childhood education usually began at kindergarten, and many families actually opted out of kindergarten for their children. Sadly, the loss of educational opportunities for our youngest population can have lasting long-term effects. By educational programs I’m referring to children having ample time to develop relationships, converse with peers and adults, and understand that they are valued as bright and capable individuals. As Jack Shonkoff, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recently wrote, “The healthy development of young children in the early years of life literally does provide a foundation for just about all of the challenging social problems that our society and other societies face.”
The science of brain circuitry indicates that when children experience positive social and emotional relationships, their being is literally shaped with a foundation to continue to have positive experiences in the future. This healthy social/emotional development correlates with cognitive growth. In other words, when children feel comfortable and supported by peers and adults, they are able to learn more effectively.
This brain development is precisely why Dancing Moose curriculum appeals to the whole child. Healthy relationships, positive self esteem, active bodies with ample nutritious food are all components of healthy brain development that fosters academic learning.
As Shonkoff goes on to argue, a child’s development is optimally flexible at a young age, which makes it an essential time to develop healthy social/emotional patterns rather than try to fix problems later.
Early childhood education is the small window available to parents to help children develop healthy happy relationships, socialize with peers and teachers, and dance and sing as they learn new concepts. With a quality early childhood education, children will be well on their way to productive future growth and learning.