Effective childhood learning is a combination of child efforts with those of the teachers and parents. A child’s development starts after learning how to interact. Language and communication is vital at this stage as it enables interaction and development of relationships. As a child grows, various stages with a variety of needs crop up. Several theories have been developed to explain the reasons behind these changes of needs. The development of a child, however, totally depends on the association with teachers, peers and parents who establish the style of learning and focus in life. This paper analyses these needs, their importance in curriculum development, and creation of proper learning environment.
The purposes of education range from who and what is studied. Generally, the key aim of learning revolves around gaining knowledge and skills, and later on using such skills in learning ones future, or become a productive citizen. A convectional reason as to why people learn is the acquisition of knowledge, reading books, and acquiring facts of life (Grotewell and Burton, 2008). I believe that learning aims at assisting students to get to a point where they can do it on their own. This is through acquisition of knowledge through language, reading, writing, drawing, and arithmetic. It gives learners the urge and desire to know more than what they already know.
Learning moulds an individual from an early age to an age where individuals have the capability to distinguish between rights and wrong (Gestwicki, Bertrand and Gestwicki, 2011). It is also a solution to aroused curiosity amongst learners who keep searching for facts about life. Learning trains one for fast, resolute, and effective capacity to think. It assist one to think logically, comprehensively, and weigh facts in coming up with decisions. The purpose of learning, therefore, is to boost ones critical and intensive thinking ability to become a better person in the future (Sciarra, Dorsey and Lynch, 2010).
Every child has a unique style of learning, which determines the environment to which he or she learns best. Children learn best when they feel secure, happy and comfortable. They learn while playing and practicing skills while playing and this assists in perseverance and concentration. Most children fall into either one of the following categories in learning; auditory or visual learners. No matter how these influence the style of learning, I believe that children learn best when they are subjected to practicing. This is in relation or what they learn in school, what they see their elders doing, or even what they observe from nature.
According to Lev Vygotsky, children learn through a social cultural experience, which plays a vital part in their development. Vygotsky viewed child development as a social and cultural factor built from interactions with other children or adults. He valued adults as the primary tools for development of children. According to this sociocultural theorist, language is the primary tool for learning as it determines how children interact and communicate. It enhances interactions and builds in the thinking process (Henniger, 2005). Vygotsky believed that a child’s development of knowledge is built in the zone of proximal development when he or she receives assistance from his peers or skilled adults. He believed that relationship with parents, peers and teachers create an environment where a child enjoys learning. Project learning, according to Vygotsky also builds on compatibility in learning, and this boosts the motivation learn (Grotewell and Burton, 2008).
The psychosocial theory developed by Erik Erikson, identifies the basics that a curriculum classroom should have so that the children’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual development needs are accommodated. According to Erikson, early childhood is categorized into four stages (Henniger, 2005). Each stage represents a psychosocial challenge that every child has to undergo in order to reach the next stage, and go through the developmental process. The initial stage is the trustworthiness stage, which is characterized by trust and mistrust force. Second is the autonomy versus doubt and shame stage where children start doing things for themselves. Thirdly is the guilt versus initiative stage characterized by children’s initiatives and lastly the inferiority versus industry stage.
According to Erikson demonstration of trustworthiness, encouraging the children by assisting them plan and explore, allowing them to have independence, and praising their accomplishments are the key elements in contributing psychosocial development. This contributes to emotional, social, intellectual and physical development among the children. In addition, parents and teachers should be cautious of their actions as they influence the psychosocial development, and may increase on the crises (Henniger, 2005).
A proper learning environment is one where children are stress free such that they can express their feelings, and a place where they feel that they can learn without interruptions. This is a place where children are exposed to research material with availability of teachers to assist whenever they need help. An excellent learning environment puts all children on the same level so that the curriculum leaves none of them behind while others move on. This way no child would feel the need to rush through learning in order to catch up, and they will have extra assistance even outside class time (Gestwicki, Bertrand and Gestwicki, 2011).
The basic needs for growing and learning include proper understanding of literature, ability to extract meanings in such literature, literacy, and proper writing skills. Besides these needs, children also require reliable and available teachers whom they can rely for help, either during class time or after classes (Sciarra, Dorsey and Lynch, 2010). Learning material like books, pens and black boards improve the learning style and enhance participation from all learners. They enhance practice in reading and writing thereby improving children’s creativity. Classrooms are also other basic needs that promote growth and learning. They act as shelters where children learn with their individual pace.
Abraham Maslow views these needs as more complicated than many people think. He feels that teacher’s should shift their focus from academics, and be concerned on the needs of children and make sure that they are met. Maslow classifies needs into deficiency and growth needs. He developed the hierarchy of needs where after achieving a stage, the needs change to another level. The lowest point of needs is the physiological need, which includes basics like food, water and shelter. This is followed by safety and security needs, which are factors of a sustainable environment. As one climbs up the hierarchy of needs, the feeling of love, affection and belongingness arises. One feels the need to be a part of a team. There is then need for self-esteem and respect and being valued by others. Maslow believed that the highest point of need is self actualization, and only a few individuals make to this point (Henniger, 2005).
This theory acts as a motivation for children who might be faced by difficulties; it provides hope to move ahead and develop as one climbs the ladder (Grotewell and Burton, 2008). Maslow provides that it might be impossible for a teacher to meet all the needs of the children, but applying this theory assists in making sure that most of the children’s needs are met. It acts as a tool to increase awareness to teachers on the needs that have been met, and those that are yet to be met (Henniger, 2005).
Efficient teachers should posses an understanding of the subjects being taught, and have a variety of teaching ways so that every child understands. They should be role models, and provide the necessary materials that students intend to use in learning (Gestwicki, Bertrand and Gestwicki, 2011). They should be willing to assist whenever needed, and do their best in answering questions that children may have. In addition, they should humorous, patience, caring, and motivate their students to do their best.
The key purpose of education is to prepare children for challenges that they may encounter in their lives. Teachers are tools who assist in development of skills that children need to be successful in the future. Children learn best when taught in certain ways and certain conditions. This includes proper environment, which includes availability of teachers, and proper curriculum to suit their future needs. Effective learning involves meeting the needs of all children, and involving them in critical thinking so that their minds become ready to face the challenges of the future.
Gestwicki, C., Bertrand, J., & Gestwicki, C. (2011). Essentials of early childhood education. Toronto: Nelson Education.
Grotewell, P. G., & Burton, Y. R. (2008). Early childhood education: Issues and developments. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Henniger, M. (2005). Teaching young children. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice hall.
Sciarra, D. J., Dorsey, A. G., & Lynch, E. M. (2010). Developing and administering a child care and education program. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.