CHILDREN DEVELOPMENT: ‘Early Learning Lays the Foundation’ – Expert Talks Importance of Play, Communication, and Careful Tech Use

Early childhood education is often seen as a stepping stone to academics, a time for rote memerization and worksheets. Oluwaseun Abisola, challenges this perception. Ms. Oluwaseun Abisola is a dedicated educator and passionate advocate for children’s education. She currently serves as the Head of School at Emerald Springs School, a prestigious institution that was established in 2013. The school’s mission is to nurture the holistic development of every child, providing them with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in an ever-evolving world. In an interview with Zebra News, she emphasizes the crucial role these early years play in shaping a child’s overall development, encompassing physical growth, emotional well-being, social skills, and personal discovery.

Ms. Abisola’s journey in education began with her own love for learning. She holds a wealth of experience in teaching and leadership roles, which has shaped her approach to education. Her commitment to fostering creativity, critical thinking, and global awareness among students is evident in the school’s curriculum.

Emerald Springs School follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum for preschool students, ensuring a strong foundation in literacy, numeracy, and social skills. For primary school students, the school integrates the Nigerian Primary Curriculum with the British National Curriculum. This unique blend provides students with a diverse and enriching learning experience.

Many misconceptions surround early childhood education, often seen as simply learning numbers and alphabets. Ms. Abisola clarifies that it extends far beyond academics. It’s about nurturing a child’s holistic development, encompassing physical growth, emotional well-being, social skills, and personal discovery. It’s so much more,” she says, “It’s about nurturing a child’s holistic development – their physical growth, emotional well-being, social skills, and personal discovery.” This philosophy permeates the very walls of Emerald School. Play is not a frivolous activity, but a cornerstone of learning. “Creating a nurturing environment with age-appropriate activities” is a key principle, Ms. Abisola explains.

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These early years are particularly noteworthy because children achieve significant milestones that lay the foundation for future learning. Delays in achieving these milestones, Ms. Abisola stresses, can be a cause for concern. For instance, a child who isn’t crawling by a certain age or isn’t walking by another might require intervention.

“Careful observation is key for parents,”

“If you have any worries, addressing them early on can significantly improve a child’s future learning potential.”

Parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers. Ms. Abisola emphasizes the importance of creating a strong emotional bond with children through playtime, singing, and simply spending quality time together. This emotional connection provides a safe and secure environment for children to thrive.

“Creating a strong emotional bond with children is crucial,”

“Playtime, singing, and simply spending quality time together provide a safe and secure environment for children to thrive.”

Nutrition also plays a key role. Ms. Abisola advises parents to prioritize nutritious foods over readily available processed options. Local foods, when balanced and age-appropriate, can provide the necessary fuel for a child’s growth and development.

“Local, balanced, and age-appropriate meals can provide the necessary fuel for a child’s growth and development,”

she explained.

In addressing developmental concerns Ms. Abisola explains that careful observation is crucial for parents. Monitoring a child’s developmental milestones, such as neck control, sitting, crawling, and walking, allows parents to identify any potential delays. Early intervention is essential, as she highlights. Addressing developmental concerns early on can significantly improve a child’s future learning potential.

When choosing a preschool, Ms. Abisola recommends prioritizing institutions that understand the unique needs of young children. These schools should focus on creating a nurturing environment that fosters age-appropriate activities that lay the foundation for future learning.

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While explaining the role of Technology in Early Learning, Ms. Abisola explains that the digital age presents both opportunities and challenges in early childhood education. In her opinion, while technology can be a valuable tool, screen time should be limited. Educational apps and resources can supplement learning, but they shouldn’t replace essential playtime and social interaction.

“Screen time should be limited, and content carefully curated, Technology should never replace essential playtime and social interaction.”

One example of this thoughtful integration of technology at Emerald Springs School is the school’s use of Jolly Phonics. “In preschool, we teach them letter sounds,” Ms. Abisola explains. “We follow the program called Jolly Phonics. And then we encourage, just as teachers are using it, we also encourage parents to download the app. It’s not our own app. It’s an app that is open to the public. There are so many parents around the world. So we encourage them to download it and use it for the children. The same way they are using it for the children to help them learn their letter sounds. To help them learn their blending skills. And even to be able to both speak and spell.”

A smooth transition from preschool to primary school is also essential. Ms. Abisola suggests that preschools that focus on the underlying principles behind the skills they teach can better prepare children for the more structured learning environment of primary school. This ensures a seamless continuation of the foundational skills children have already acquired.

Speaking of the relationship that should exist between parents and teachers, Ms. Abisola opines that open communication is key. Collaboration between parents and teachers is vital for a child’s success. Ms. Abisola advocates for open communication channels, where parents can openly discuss their concerns and teachers can provide progress reports and address any challenges. This collaborative approach ensures that all parties are working towards the child’s best interests.

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One of the most exciting aspects of early childhood education is witnessing the spark of a child’s love for reading. At Emerald School, this is fostered not just through traditional methods, but also with the help of a unique resource – the Emerald Books created by Ms. Abisola herself. “In my experience as a teacher,” Ms. Abisola explains, “I noticed a gap in the availability of books specifically designed for young children, particularly when it comes to the sequential introduction of new words and increasing text difficulty.” This observation led Ms. Abisola to develop the “Beginning to Read” series, the first installment of the Emerald Books collection. “These books are carefully curated to meet the needs of early learners,” she says. Ms. Abisola believes that consistent “touch and read” sessions with these books, where adults and children read together, can significantly boost a child’s reading.

In conclusion, Ms. Abisola’s insights highlight the importance of early childhood education as the cornerstone of a child’s development. By working together, parents, teachers, and even technology can create a nurturing and stimulating environment that empowers children to learn, grow, and thrive.

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