“Most research shows that early learning experiences have immediate, measurable gains on the cognitive and social development of preschool children. When preschool education is of high quality, it leads to lasting enhancement of educational performance and later employment. It does this through encouraging high aspirations, motivation to learn and feelings of task efficacy, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is suggested that preschool education is effective because it shapes the cognitions that children construct for explaining success and failure in school. Early learning can foster the belief in children that attainment is not innate but is, instead, achieved in part by effort.
Early learning occurs in day care as well as nursery school. Research shows that high quality day care provision leads to successful social and educational outcomes. There is a strong case for investment in high quality early learning on economic as well as social grounds. Cost benefit analyses carried out on preschool interventions, have demonstrated a large financial return to society.”
Quoted from the European Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Recent research in Neurophysiology has also demonstrated that permanent physical changes actually occur in the brain, as a result of early cognitive/linguistic stimulation, given to children. Sophisticated imaging techniques show the differences, in certain brain areas (namely, the language centre), between a brain that was exposed to early stimulation, and one that was not.
Psychology tends towards Bio Chemistry, more and more; it is very exciting that Neuroscience can now show what psychologists have known for decades.
That is why, at Headstart, we have a program for systematic cognitive stimulation, adapted to each specific stage of cognitive development, from infancy to school age.
However, this stimulation is not imposed on children; it is provided, made available, for the child to engage with, according to his/her interests and motivation. It is very important that the child actively constructs his/her learning, feels rewarded by the learning experience and thus is motivated to seek new learning opportunities.
Any toy, object, nature, experience can be a learning tool; it all depends on how it is used by both the child and the educator. However, we provide our children with a wide range of Educational toys, games, materials and experiences specifically designed to provide cognitive stimulation and promote learning experiences, psychomotoric skills, creative productivity, social skills, etc.
Language acquisition is at the core of our work. Generally, we think with language. Therefore, the better we speak, the better we can think. The window for optimal language acquisition is narrower than one thinks; it starts closing in childhood. It is highly beneficial for children to be exposed to at least a 2nd language as early as possible. They need to hear it, in order to be able to speak it, later on.
That is why, at Headstart, we focus on providing children with varied and rich linguistic experiences. If we could photograph babies’ brains, we’d see all those cute neurons happily connecting!
We promote that, by implementing our PLAN FOR COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT, adapting every exercise to the specific developmental stage and interests of each child.