Early childhood education focuses on childrens learning through play, based on the research and philosophy of Jean Piaget. This belief is centered on the "power of play". It has been thought that children learn more efficiently and gain more knowledge through play-based activities such as dramatic play, art, and social games. This theory plays stems children's natural curiosity and tendencies to "make believe", mixing in educational lessons.
Preschool education and kindergarten emphasize learning around the ages of 3–6 years. The terms "day care" and "child care" do not convey the educational aspects, although many childcare centers use more educational approaches. The distinction between childcare centers and kindergartens has all but disappeared in countries that require staff in different early childhood facilities to have a teaching qualification.
Researchers and early childhood educators both view the parents as an integral part of the early childhood education process. Often educators refer to parents as the child's "first and best teacher".
It is very important for parents to stay engaged in their child's learning process, even if they are getting most of their education from a daycare, day home, school etc. The knowledge learned from a parent will be more cherished and remembered by a child then if any other person taught them, especially at an early age. Early childhood education is crucial to child development and should be entered into cautiously with someone you trust will help benefit your child.
Much of the first two years of a child's life is spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self"; most children are able to differentiate between themselves and others by their second year. This is a crucial part of the child's ability to determine how they should function in relation to other people. Early care must emphasize links to family, home culture, and home language by uniquely caring for each child.[according to whom?]
Children who lack sufficient nurturing, nutrition, interaction with a parent or caregiver, and stimulus during this crucial period may be left with developmental deficits, as has been reported in Russian and Romanian orphanages. Children must receive attention and affection to develop in a healthy manner. There is a false belief that more hours of formal education for a very young child confers greater benefits than a balance between formal education and family time. A systematic, international review suggests that the benefits of early childhood education come from the experience of participation; more than 2.5 hours a day does not greatly add to child development outcomes, especially when it detracts from other experiences and family contact.
Infant education is the education of children before they would normally enter school. The term "Infant" is typically applied to children between the ages of 1 month and 12 months.
Note that in some countries/states, and especially in the United Kingdom an infant school caters for the earlier years of primary or elementary education, typically catering for children aged between four and seven years of age. These schools separate children into age groups, teaching the youngest in a separate building from the older pupils. Many believe that education at pre-school ages can significantly affect a person's ability to deal successfully with later life. Some studies supporting this point of view are detailed below.
"Why Does Infant Attention Predict Adolescent Intelligence?" by