3 reasons why early education matters

3 reasons why early education matters

How an early introduction to academics could set your child up for lifelong success

Does it really matter where your kids go to kindergarten? They’re mostly just playing and doing circle time, right? Not quite, says Jennifer Brantley, a Grade One teacher at Hudson College, a co-ed day school in Toronto. “It’s all learning,” she explains of the discovery-based, student-led approach you’ll find in their early learning classrooms. “The more space they have to build a foundation now, the stronger they’ll be later. It’s those little pieces—problem-solving, communication, creativity—that come together.”

Curious about how introducing your toddler to academics, in an environment like Hudson College, might be more crucial than you think? We’ve got three reasons why early learning will shape the way they think for the rest of their lives.

1. They’re learning vital skills without even realizing it

At Hudson, teachers use the Reggio Emilia approach, which allows students’ interests to guide the learning. For example, some of Brantley’s students became intrigued by snails after finding them outside in the playground. The kids gathered a few up and brought them into the classroom, then built habitats for their snails. “From there, they explored the snails every day in a variety of ways,” she says. “They read stories to their snails during quiet reading, or they built a playground for the snails, which turned into a whole collaborative project, where they planned and they tested and they tried.” She says it might look like chaos, but as an educator, she’s seeing kids learning to do things like communicate with others and problem solve. “It’s ongoing growth, but it still fits into the Ministry framework,” she adds, pointing out that snails, for instance, fit the “living things” unit all grade ones must cover in science.

2. Your child is learning how to learn

“Early on, they get a good sense about how to explore their own thinking,” says Brantley, who is constantly prompting her students: Where could we find that answer? How could we do that? “As they get up to Grade 3 or 4, those same questions are there but they actually have a repertoire behind them so they think, ‘I know how I could get that information. I could test something, I could do this.’” It’s a way of approaching the world that becomes ingrained. “I can always explore, I can always find out more.” The beauty of this foundation, says Brantley, is that this allows children to find their own best path to knowledge. “For some, that could be the more traditional research and writing, for another it gives them the chance to be the one who’s hands on. And for the quiet, more reserved ones it gives them a chance to be the observer, which is such a valuable role, and they step in when they’re ready.” The earlier a child learns about their learning style, the better, she says.

3. It fosters a lifelong love of learning

Rather than focusing on getting kids to absorb information verbatim from their teachers, this self-directed way of encountering academics creates early positive associations with learning. “It becomes more interesting to them because it’s within their own interests,” explains Brantley. “In a school like ours, it’s so nice when we’re able to have those beautiful moments when the children are intrigued by something and you spot and say, ‘Let’s run with that. Where can we go, how can we help them build their exploration?’” Whether you’re 3 or 43, that confident, eager curiosity is an asset—and something you won’t find in a textbook.