Sending their child off to nursery can be a scary moment in a parent’s lifetime. Their little girl or boy will be in unfamiliar surroundings, learning their first social and educational lessons outside the comfort bubble of home.
However, research suggests that a parent’s level of involvement at this stage of their child’s educational journey will have a long-term impact on the child’s academic attainment, regardless of age or even household income.
The UK study, jointly conducted by the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter last year, also looked at ways in which educational institutions — whether schools or nurseries — can work with parents to improve children’s learning outcomes.
For school-aged children, the research showed that a strong partnership between a home and nursery or school was crucial — particularly when the organisation personalised regular communication about a child’s progress to parents. Other findings suggested a strong correlation between family literacy interventions and summer reading programmes as means to boost school-age children’s learning.
On Himama.com, a popular early childhood education blog, Ron Spreeuwenberg writes, “Parent involvement in early childhood education can extend the experiences that a child has in the classroom to real-world activities that happen in the home. A parent who understands what their child is working on at preschool has a better sense of their child’s competency and which areas they need to work on to improve confidence and ability.
“One of the most difficult challenges for early childhood educators is figuring out how to better engage parents in their child’s learning. By establishing good lines of communication between your child care center and parents, as well as making a strong effort to involve parents as an important partner in their child’s education, you can make a positive impact on their learning ability.”
Nursery or school?
Whether a nursery or a kindergarten at school, both will follow a special curriculum geared at improving the learning and development of children from birth till the age of five. The curriculum may be based upon the English Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, US Common Core, International Pre-school Curriculum or others.
While schools will expose young learners to a larger number of peers, as well as older children, nurseries can offer a safer space, in terms of smaller groups under observation by staff in addition to a more personalised approach to helping achieve learning outcomes.
While schools will expose young learners to a larger number of peers, as well as older children, nurseries can offer a safer space, in terms of smaller groups under observation by staff in addition to a more personalised approach to helping achieve learning outcomes. Educators at nurseries tend to know more about the individual quirks and traits of their charges than teachers in a school, who have to follow a more structured approach to learning that may not necessarily allow the same degree of customisation.
That said, in recognition of how daunting the school environment can be to newcomers, many schools do house early-years learners in a separate area, with a view to slowly easing the children into the larger surroundings.
However, nurseries can be more flexible than schools when it comes to timings — something working parents will surely be grateful for.
Ultimately, it is the parents’ responsibility to do their research, speak to the experts and make this decision. Whether it’s a nursery or a school, ongoing communication between home and school will ensure the best for your child.
— The writer is Founder and Managing Director of Jebel Ali Village Nursery
As told to Riaz Naqvi, Staff Writer