Early Education: It’s Never too Early to Learn

Two career families have become commonplace in urban Philippines today. Both male and female heads of these families are driven to pursue economic opportunities by getting a job or doing business. While building their careers, the couple endeavors to maintain their roles in the household.

The situation becomes more challenging when the kids arrive. Mothers who give birth hurry back to work as soon as practicable. Whenever possible, they leave infants to the care of extended family – to the kid’s lolos or lolas, aunts, or even to helpers. Before they realize it, it is time to begin the child(ren)’s early education.

Choosing the right school or learning centre then becomes an important decision for the family to make. Parents look for an environment that is safe and friendly for the child. This gives them peace of mind, as they go about their businesses for the day. Furthermore, they require that the school should be able to inspire and stimulate the child to learn. This reassures them that their investment for their child’s education is well spent.

One parent who cares very much about her child’s education is Lovella Dimaculangan. Her son CJ is a year 1 student at the CIE British School – Makati Campus. Says Lovella, “Nothing can be more comforting than to have a wonderful place for our son to spend time, while we are at work. CJ has developed skills that will ensure his success this coming school year. He showed a remarkable improvement in speaking English. He can now easily answer advanced Math problems. He has developed skills that will ensure his success this coming school year.”

Early education today has won over more advocates than ever before. Time has changed roles, practices and customs of people. Members of the generation who entered formal schooling at seven years old (at first grade), now have grandchildren who entered formal schooling much earlier. The Philippine government has recently made kindergarten education, available in the public schools. It wasn’t long ago when pre-school education was an option available only to the wealthy.

AJ de la Cruz is barely one year and nine months old. But he already has experienced education in his young age through the summer fun school of CIE. His mother, Editha, said: “Through the Summer Fun program of CIE, we discovered AJ’s strengths and potentials. He now follows instructions very well, and gets things right the first time. He has become active and friendly. In fact, when we’re in a family gathering, we showcased AJ’s new learning skills and they were amazed when AJ started to “make a show”. I should say we’re very proud parents.”

“It was a financial investment for us. But the skills that CIE inculcated in our son are more rewarding than any value money can give,” Editha said. “It is the best school,” adds Anna Klosovskaya, mother of Maria and Vica.

The positive regard for early education by parents today is a stark contrast from its old perceptions. Before, parents were concerned that bringing children to school at an early age may rob them of their childhood and give them undue stress. These notions are debunked by current educational policies in the modern world.

For instance, the Head Start educational program of the United States government believes that “children begin learning aggressively much sooner than previously understood.” It states that “if given the proper nurturing beforehand, children entering kindergarten and primary school will have a much higher chance of success socially and academically.”

Likewise, John Byk, an American author language teacher, wrote: “Children’s brains are hardwired for language acquisition from infancy. Auditory decoding and verbal encoding of language begins almost immediately after, if not before, birth.”

CIE British School, with campuses in Cebu, Makati and Tacloban, is an advocate of early education. Founded by Prof. Nelia Cruz Sarcol, an educational innovator and thought leader, CIE began as a foundation school catering to children as young as toddlers. CIE was established on a development track that was ready to embrace and implement an internationally benchmarked curriculum.

In the mid-‘80s, when the use of personal computers in the Philippines was still in its infancy, CIE began using it as a tool for learning for pre-school and primary school children. Today, it is one Philippine international school that has fully assimilated the British system into its curriculum.

The UK curriculum for basic education is organized into blocks of years called key stages. Each key stage sets the educational knowledge expected of students of various ages, namely: early years foundation stage (infant, toddler, nursery, reception), key stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), key stage 2 (Years 3 to 6), key stage 3 (Years 7 to 9), and key stage 4 (Years 10 to 12). The development from one key stage to the next ensures that there is continuity in the learning process of every student.

CIE is the pioneer international school in the Philippines providing University of Cambridge qualifications; from the English for Speakers of Others Languages (ESOL) suites to the University of Cambridge International Examinations. This “Cambridge connection” has given Filipinos and students of other nationalities the opportunity to earn qualifications that are “recognized by over 12,000 governments, educational institutions and corporations around the world.”

Early learners turn into productive youth leaders in CIE. From its students’ ranks, rise toddlers who can read and comprehend what they are read. It has grade schoolers who are adept on Powerpoint preparation and presentation skills. It has high school kids who produce global-winning online magazines. And just like any normal kids of their age, they equally enjoy producing Shakespearean plays and variety shows, playing football, and running businesses with economically challenged families.

“Children are like tiny flowers: They are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers,” said 19th century educator Friedrich Froebel. More than two centuries after Froebel founded the first kindergarten, the world cares for children even more. Now, more educators and parents agree that in education, it never is too early to learn.

Reference: Jeruel N. Roa

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