Early childhood education, as one of the stages underwent by today’s children, plays greater roles in the development of a child both psychologically and academically. It is the stage where the brain develops most rapidly almost to its fullest. Most of the critical and crucial developmental activities occur during this time. It is when talking, walking, vision of the world, self-esteem and moral foundations are established in a child (Bhavya, 2007). Moreover, these early years are also critical for the development of social behaviors, personalities, and intelligence. These years of development mainly lay a proper and necessary foundation of learning in the subsequent years. Education, during these ages, should, therefore, have its own ways of practices and issuance. There are two different programs used in the approach of early childhood education. However, it is important to make a serious comparison between the two to come up with a reasonable and best program or method that can facilitate and make learning among the kids much easier (Bhavya, 2007).
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At the beginning of the 20th century, two popular programs or approaches have were used to ensure that the provision of the necessary education to the kids succeeded. The programs are pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs (Blenkin, 1996). Pre-kindergarten program is prevention, and early intervention program meant for children to benefit from the early school based experiences. Kindergarten program, on the other hand, emphasizes on the development of a strong foundation for which students grow to become academically active in future learning progresses (Gullo, 2005). Pre-kindergarten is meant to nurture socio-emotional, physical, and intellectual development among children of age 3-4 years. It also stresses on the enhancement of a child’s speech and language development, positive self-esteem, and the crucial communication skills through direct involvement of the child’s family (Grotewell, 2008). The child also develops these important virtues and skills through integrated social and health services, and community partnerships. In addition to the above, qualified early childhood education teachers normally collaborate with any teacher assistant who may be well familiar with the context of the community to help in the provision of half-time education programs for a given number of children. This happens with the pre-kindergarten program and not in the kindergarten program whose focus is to prepare a thorough and strong academic base for a child (Bhavya, 2007).
Pre-kindergarten is normally designed to help a child prepare for the kindergarten. A child learns what he or she should learn so that he or she can be integrated into the school environment. Normally, children begin this at the age of 3 or 4 unlike the kindergarten where they start attending at the age 5 or 6 years. Attendance of kindergarten is mandatory for all children according to the No Child Left Behind Law (Grotewell, 2008). However, attendance of pre-kindergarten is optional. Parents who wish to let their kids gain knowledge that prepare them for kindergarten take their kids to pre-kindergarten institutions. Kindergarten, on the other hand, is enables a child get used towards the school environment for his or her future comfort ability in learning institutions.
Parents play very important roles during the early childhood education of their children. Parents normally develop collaborative and reciprocal relationship with the teachers thus, providing a good relationship between the teacher and the child hence better learning. Parents also do participate in decision making of their childcare and education. This includes the involvement in the assessment and planning for the individual children (Blenkin, 1996). The teachers and the parents share their knowledge of the child at school and home respectively. This helps in making the improvement of the child performance in the school (Gullo, 2005).
The two programs have general different in that kindergarten prepares a child for future academic fitness whereas Pre-kindergarten focuses on the development of the child to fit in the society as well as preparing him or her for kindergarten program (Grotewell, 2008). The programs have foundational strength due to the existence of teacher-parent relationship. Exchange of ideas between the two parties concerning the child makes the programs easy to implement. Implementation of the programs faces challenges, as well. Most of the children at pre-kindergarten program have not reached the age at which they should be separated from their parents for schooling. This affects the children psychologically, thus interfering with the implementation of the pre-kindergarten program to some extent (Blenkin, 1996).