Education plays a vital role in every student’s life by providing professional competencies and, first of all, shaping his most essential personal qualities and skills. The education system is a complex and multi-level structure that offers different learning stages. The first one is early childhood education (ECE), which includes teaching strategies for preschool children starting from birth. ECE has been shown as effective in many essential aspects of a child’s life.
Early education helps children develop social and emotional skills, teaches an appropriate interpersonal relationships, instills dignified human values, as well as sets expectations and the foundation for future studying and academic achievement. Nevertheless, despite the apparent benefits, there are several early education disadvantages, and the question of the necessity of ECE raises controversy and doubts.
Early Childhood Education’s Benefits
The effectiveness of early education cannot be overstated, as its many benefits have been proven. ECE allows the child to adapt to society with diversity and develops the child’s desire to learn and explore. Preschool education is a crucial stage as it prepares the child for schooling consistently and effortlessly. In a safe environment, ECE helps children develop such vital senses as self-reliance and independence. Being independent and self-reliant is essential for children to continue their fruitful development. At the same time, being in a peer society, children play and learn together, which allows them to realize the importance of cooperation and teamwork.
Plays are a significant part of early childhood education as they are the “foundation for all learning domains” (Piescor, 2017). While playing, children acquire and develop many personal qualities such as imagination, problem-solving, social awareness, exploration, and creative and critical thinking (Piescor, 2017). Plays allow children to learn the basics of mathematics, literacy, and sciences, as well as begin to realize their role in society.
The formation and development of basic skills from an early age are closely related to future success and achievements. Several long-term studies have shown a correlation between ECE and success in adulthood; an example of such a study is The Carolina Abecedarian Project (Campbell et al., 2019). This study was designed to prove that adults who received early education have more advantages over people who did not attend preschool. This project presented significant findings associated with ECE, such as increased academic achievement, a propensity for graduation from high school, and continuing education (Campbell et al., 2019).
In addition to improved academic performance, social improvements were noted, such as decreased criminal activity and fewer teenage parents. Hence, it can be argued that ECE provides long-term benefits and positive results that continue contributing to success in adulthood.
Attending school from early childhood allows kids to develop social and emotional skills. Preschool teachers promote such behavioral skills to be positive and healthy (Ho & Funk, 2018). Learning effectiveness is ensured by trusting relationships between children and teachers and intentional teaching of social and emotional skills. In their study, Cappelen et al. (2020) state that ECE contributes to establishing social preferences, and correct, value-filled education allows for shaping children’s moral views properly. Social and emotional health assumes that children are able to build relationships with peers and adults, are aware of their own, and recognize other people’s emotions. Early education allows children to be capable of empathy and develop productive communication with others.
Disadvantages of Early Education
Despite the abundance of benefits, early education is characterized by some disadvantages that cast doubt on its overall effectiveness. Initially, it is worth noting that all children are different, and caregivers should find an approach to each, especially at such a tender age. In early childhood, a child requires round-the-clock care and attention. Some children are more sensitive and suffer from separation anxiety. Although most often separation anxiety lasts no more than a few weeks, it happens that it continues to last. In such a case, this may mean that the preschool setting is not suitable for the child, and care should be received at home (“Separations and changes,” n.d.).
At preschool age, children need to experience one-to-one communication, which is impossible in early education. Children can suffer from lack of attention, emotional disturbance, and behavioral problems.
Forcing the child to learn early also leads to behavioral problems. Given the different personalities and temperaments, some children may not be ready to learn early, and pressure will lead to disruptive behavior and reluctance to learn. The reluctance to learn also occurs due to the abrupt transition from play to structured learning, which may seem monotonous and unattractive to the child. Structured learning, in turn, partly leads to a loss of play communication with peers, which interferes with socialization.
Another problem of ECE is incompetent and inexperienced teachers who are not interested in their work and do not treat children properly. A teacher’s inappropriate attitude can be detrimental to the child, create fear of adults, problems with socialization, and refusal to study. Darling-Churchill and Lippman (2016) note that the inability “to develop secure attachments with caregivers” may result in “later difficulties communicating or managing emotions, or developing positive relationships with peers.” Thus, early education is not a perfect tool and has a number of disadvantages.
Controversy Regarding the Mandatory of Early Childhood Education
Due to shortcomings and the fact that early education is a relatively novel branch of the education system, concerns and disputes about its necessity continue to exist. However, one cannot doubt the effectiveness and benefits of ECE, which has proven to be a productive strategy that significantly contributes to children’s success, achievement, and well-being. Hence, it is shown that early childhood education should be mandatory.
On the other hand, early education requires improvement, expansion, implementation of new strategies, and reduction of deficiencies. For example, highlighting the importance of children’s social and emotional development, Darling-Churchill and Lippman (2016) discuss the importance of establishing valid methods for measuring the results and effectiveness of early education. The authors of another study agree on the effectiveness of ECE and argue that investment in early education may contribute to “reducing educational and economic burdens and inequities” (McCoy et al., 2017). Therefore, early education requires enhancement of methodology, additional research, as well as the emergence of additional sponsorship with monitoring of its results.
Nonetheless, the greatest attention should be paid to caregivers and teachers, as they determine the quality and outcomes of early education. Enhancement of the workforce implies proper preparation and development of teachers, the establishment of special training, as well as increased funding and research (Phillips et al., 2016). Thus, early childhood education should be mandatory but needs improvement in funding and workforce, implementation of research, and new strategies.
Early childhood education has its cons; however, the benefits, outcomes, and overall efficiency are much more significant. Children who attend preschool develop social, emotional, and literacy skills. In addition, children getting early education are more likely to attain better achievement, success, and well-being in adulthood. There are several disadvantages of ECE, and some of them can be eliminated through a comprehensive improvement of the early education sector. Thus, despite being a controversial topic, early childhood education should be mandatory.
Campbell, F. A., Pan, Y., & Burchinal, M. (2019). Sustaining gains from early childhood intervention: The Abecedarian program. In A. J. Reynolds & J. A. Temple (Eds.), Sustaining early childhood learning gains: Program, school, and family influences (pp. 268-286). Cambridge University Press. Web.
Cappelen, A., List, J., Samek, A., & Tungodden, B. (2020). The effect of early-childhood education on social preferences. Journal of Political Economy, 128(7), 2739-2758. Web.
Darling-Churchill, K. E., & Lippman, L. (2016). Early childhood social and emotional development: Advancing the field of measurement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 45, 1-7. Web.
Ho, J., & Funk, S. (2018). Promoting young children’s social and emotional health. YC Young Children, 73(1), 73–79. Web.
McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., Yang, R., Koepp A. & Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of early childhood education on medium-and long-term educational outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474-487. Web.
Phillips, D., Austin, L. J. E., & Whitebook, M. (2016). The early care and education workforce. The Future of Children, 26(2), 139–158. Web.
Piescor, D. (2017). Marble magic: Play as the foundation for all learning domains across multiple age groups. YC Young Children, 72(1), 74–79. Web.
Separations and changes in the early years. (n.d.) Understanding Childhood. Web.