A link to the future: the history of early years education

Posted in: Blog | 21 Aug 2017

The Early Years Learning Framework has been developed in Australia to ensure every child can benefit from quality education programs delivered by qualified early childhood educators. Because this is such a vital time for them to learn and develop, the framework has been designed for all children to experience play-based learning that’s engaging and builds success for life.

Underlying the Early Years Learning Framework is a collection of academic theories that are continuously updated to ensure educators can develop learning programs that are responsive to children’s ideas, interests and abilities. So, who are the theorists behind the creation of this framework and how have their ideas shaped the way we teach young people in Australia and around the world?

Jean Piaget was a 20th century Swiss theorist who believed that children’s thinking passed through separate stages and changed qualitatively in each of these stages. Early childhood education focuses on the first two stages through the provision of a stimulating environment for children to explore as active learners:

  • The Sensorimotor stage is from birth to age two, where children experience the world through movement and their senses. During this stage children are extremely egocentric, meaning they can’t perceive the world from other people’s viewpoints.
  • The Preoperational stage starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven. During this stage, an increase in playing and pretending takes place. They then start asking questions of “why?” and “how come?” This stage is when children want the knowledge of knowing everything.

Erik Erikson was a 20th century German-born American developmental psychologist, most famous for coining the phrase “identity crisis”. He identified eight separate stages across the lifespan. He believed that in each stage we face a crisis that needs to be resolved for us to develop socially and emotionally. The second and third stage are those understood in early childhood education:

  • Will – Autonomy vs Shame – At around one-three years old, children begin to discover the beginnings of their independence, and parents/educators must facilitate the child’s sense of doing basic tasks “all by themselves.” Discouragement can lead to a child doubting his or her efficacy.
  • Purpose – Initiative vs Guilt— From around three to six years old, this stage asks if a child can do things on their own. If “guilty” about making their own choices, the child will not function well, but Erikson says that most guilt is quickly compensated by a sense of accomplishment.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century, whose philosophy influenced the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the overall development of modern political and educational thought. Rousseau’s philosophy of education is concerned with developing a child’s character and moral sense, so they can learn to practice self-mastery and remain virtuous in the imperfect society in which they’ll live. He felt that children learn right and wrong through experiencing the consequences of their acts, rather than through physical punishment.

Friedrich Froebel was an early 19th century German pedagogue who laid the foundation for modern education based on the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities. He created the concept of the kindergarten, which literally means “garden for the children” in German, reflecting his belief that children should be nurtured and nourished “like plants in a garden”. He established the “game” as the typical form that life took in childhood as well as the game’s educational worth.

Maria Montessori was an early 20th century Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that now bears her name. The Montessori method stresses the development of a child’s own initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play. In early childhood education, children use their senses to explore and manipulate materials in their immediate environment and learn through activities that involve order, repetition, abstraction and communication.

These theories laid the groundwork for today’s early childhood development programs, but we’re still learning more about how young children learn every year to incorporate into our early childhood qualifications. If you’re considering a career working in early childhood care and education, the good news is it’s one of the fastest growing and stable job markets in the country. A career in Early Childhood Care and Education also offers a wide variety of career benefits such as:

  • high flexibility for those people returning to work after having their own children
  • the opportunity to make a career transition later in life
  • your choice of part time, full time or casual employment options
  • the opportunity to work locally in your own neighbourhood
  • lots of opportunities for career progression
  • valuable experience for transitioning in to other parts of the Health Care and Social Assistance sector

Getting started can be just as rewarding and flexible with study options from Charlton Brown. With a proud 30-year history of providing industry-best training, Charlton Brown has developed more than 15,000 quality graduates who now work across every facet of the Health Care and Social Assistance sector. Combining our core competencies and expertise in the care industry with strategic partnerships and support from government, NGOs and large care providers, we’re the ideal starting point for your new career in this growing industry.

Get in touch with us today to find out how you can get started on one of the below qualifications that combine the latest theory with hands-on learning from industry work placement opportunities.

CHC30113 Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care – Covering the essential skillsets you’ll need to provide high quality care to babies, toddlers and young children, you’ll also learn the exciting knowledge areas that will enable you to foster the learning and development of young children.

CHC50113 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care – Provides an in-depth understanding of children and how to design and implement curriculum in Early Childhood Education and Care services while leading, developing and mentoring work teams and developing policies for workplace compliance.

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