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5 myths about ECE

20 Nov 2018

5 myths about ECE

Rebecca Scott, BestStart Burnside Centre manager, debunks some myths about childcare.

Myth 1: Early childhood education is just babysitting.

The kaiako (teachers) at BestStart centres throughout New Zealand are highly qualified, having studied at tertiary institutes for a minimum of three years to gain a Bachelor of Education. There's also a professional obligation to continue to learn through professional development and keeping up-to-date with recent and relevant educational research. This ensures that our trained teachers are always up-to-date with best practice to support children in the early years. Our kaiako use a wide range of intentional teaching strategies to support and extend each child's developmentally appropriate learning. We do this by working alongside other teachers to carefully plan the learning environment and teaching. "Just babysitting" would be so much easier!

Myth 2: Children at early learning centres don't actually learn, they just play.

Albert Einstein said, "Play is the highest form of research." Through play, in early learning, children are actively exploring and making sense of the world around them. They are learning together, problem-solving, using trial-and-error, questioning, building relationships, developing maths, science, and language concepts, and so, so much more! Free play allows tamariki to drive their own learning, make their own discoveries, and make their own choices through following their interests. Teachers provide experiences and opportunities to enhance and extend these interests. Sit back and observe your child as they "just play", and you will soon see there is so much more going on.

Myth 3: Early learning centres aren't as good as kindergarten.

The qualified teachers at kindergartens and early learning centres share the same qualifications and work with the world-renowned early childhood curriculum Te Whariki.

Myth 4: You don't need a qualification to work in ECE.

In short: No, you don't need to have a qualification to work in ECE, but to be a qualified teacher, you do. As well as 80% of our qualified teachers, we also have amazing unqualified staff working with us, such as administrators, cooks, van drivers, and caregivers. We also have teachers who are in training for their degrees working with us.

Myth 5: Early learning centres should teach maths and reading.

Children learn best when they are interested in something. If we push them into formal learning before they are ready, it will be detrimental to their learning and development. Brain science tells us that children in the early years benefit more through creativity than any formal learning. Many parents worry that their three- or four-year-old can't write their name, but they will get there when they're ready and interested. Before formal reading and writing, we encourage children to explore by providing materials such as pens, pencils, and crayons, and set up different experiences that involve the skills of writing through their play. Our goal is to work alongside children, extending their learning through a variety of different experiences and rich communication. Stories, mat times, songs, conversation, and communicating with one another all teach children language skills, literacy, and numeracy. A focus, however, is to help children build social and emotional competencies including communicating with others, sharing our feelings and emotions, sharing resources, turn-taking, helping out, empathising, and more. These are the foundational skills and knowledge our children need to be school-ready, and these are what we consider and know to be the most vital things we can teach in early childhood education.