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Theory of early childhood education paper

Early childhood development ideas have served as the basis for curriculum initiatives, services, and legislation implemented by the federal government of the United States and the state government of Florida in children's educational programs in the state of Florida. Vygotsky's socio-cultural learning theory, Piaget's constructivist theory, and Kolb's experiential learning theory are the major theories explored in this article. Vygotsky's hypothesis is based on the fact that the environment affects learning. The two other views, on the other hand, contend that learning is an unconscious process driven by mental schema and experiences. The US government programs towards early learning include Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Florida State, on the other hand, has its programs and policies meant to support the government namely: Parents of Pre-school Youngsters (HIPPY) and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). These policies are integrated to complement each other, and they are in line with the early childhood development theories.

Early Childhood Education Theories/ Federal and State Laws
Early childhood education in the US is a crucial area that the federal and the state government policy makers have been very keen on in the country. The reason for this lies in the impact that it has on the development of personalities and character. Early childhood education acts as the foundation of the society. The five key areas of child development comprise of language, emotional, cognitive and physical skills. It is by these areas of needs that education specialists have come up with theories, concepts, and practices that influence the early childhood education policies. The children�s learning programs namely Vygotsky�s socio-cultural learning theory, Piaget�s constructivist theory, and Kolb's experiential learning theory have benefited from the incorporation of three theories.
Vygotsky�s model focuses on the impact of the cultural and social experiences on the way people think and the way the mind develops. His argument was that humans� social experiences would shape the way they interpret issues in their environment, which would essentially mean that social context influences the development of our cognitive skills. He came up with the zone proximal development (ZPD) as a means of enhancing the interaction between the child and others in the society that would impact on his or her learning. The early childhood policies developed would then be specifically designed to make them leaner-specific through the ZPDs (Powell & Kalina, 2009). The model also recommends for reciprocal interaction between the teachers and the learners. The Vygotsky theory also influenced the development of the mentally disabled education programs. He proposed a positive differential approach which forms the foundation for special education policies and programs.

The other important theory in early childhood education is the constructivist theory by Jean Piaget. According to Piaget, learning is internal. He affirmed that children make their knowledge of the world around them by experience which later becomes interpreted according to their internal reflection. Children learn by reasoning out their experiences and other circumstances in their environment (Kamii, 2000). Therefore, he recommended that the learning program should be designed such that instead of teachers transferring the knowledge to the learners like in the Vygotsky model, the former should only facilitate the learning ability of the latter. He argued that this approach will be effective by helping the young ones to assimilate the learned material according to their understanding of their environment. They would adopt the information to conform to the reality of their mental schema. The experimental learning programs have replicated the significance of this theory.
The experimental education model allows the learner to interrogate their outcomes and to interpret them using the mental schema. Experiments are trials and errors hence learners can improve by learning from their mistakes. This reflective abstraction concept was also instrumental in the development of mathematics curriculum. The learners would be made to begin with simpler cognitive structures and gradually custom the basic into more complex structures. In doing so, the children may be able to come up with their procedures for mastering the four basic mathematical operations. Piaget recommended computers as crucial and necessary learning tools for the children to help support them in constructing or designing their individual projects. The US government may have acted on this theory by commissioning tables in schools as learning enhancers for both the teachers and the students.

David Kolb would later support the explanations given by Piaget in his experimental learning theory. He reiterated that learning is more effective through experience. Kolb�s theory argues that the process of transformation of experience is very necessary for the child to adapt the learning of new information to the earlier knowledge. He came up with four stages of learning: reflective observation, active experimentation, concrete experience and abstract conceptualization. The experimental approach requires that children are exposed to active learning where they learn, conceptualize, assimilate and then interpret what is learned using what is already known (Kolb, 2014).
The federal government has a significant role to play in the early childhood education policy formulation. The involvement of the federal government has helped create equal education opportunities for all the children in America. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the body mandated to create a harmonized early childhood education standards across the nation. The purpose of this body is to promote a well-financed and integrated learning program for children in both poor and affluent neighborhoods. One of the earliest federal regulations was the head start. This education policy was funded by the federal government to enhance the cognitive and social development of the child hence promoting school readiness (Heckman, 2010). The government would provide nutritional, health, educational, social and other amenities to enhance child school readiness. This program helped support and encourage the children from poor backgrounds to go to school.
The other policy is the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Through this program, the government committed to providing to the low-income families the child care assistance. As a result, the government would ensure that the children from these households have stable and peaceful learning environments both at home and in school. The third government intervention initiative is the Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The federal government would commit to offering financial assistance to the local communities and the states to boost their efforts to provide education to the disabled children. The IDEA funding program begins from children as young as two years and extends to 5 years (US Department of Education, n.d). This act led to the creation of the Office of Special Education Programs to specifically deal with the special education needs.
Part C of IDEA, on the other hand, provides monetary assistance to the state governments to facilitate the implementation and maintenance of coordinated, comprehensive, interagency and multidisciplinary programs for the early childhood learners. The State of Florida has always partnered with the federal government in its early childhood education programs. The government has acted as the main sponsor for the early childhood schooling programs in the state trough the various policies and regulations discussed above.
Florida has also come up with its internal education programs and policies to complement the government initiatives. For example, the state passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 to ensure that children from all the backgrounds have access to education. The state set aside funding for the pre-school programs to promote child school preparedness. The funding also focused on the children at their most formative education years. The aim was to create a stronger foundation for the young learners. The other policy from the State of Florida is the Home Instructions for the Parents of Pre-school Youngsters (HIPPY). This regulation requires that parents be actively involved in the learning of their children. The Migrant School program targets the children of the immigrants who may not have free access to education. The state government used this policy to expand the education coverage for this marginalized group. The other notable policy is the Prekindergarten Program for Children with Disabilities (PDF). This program is in line with the Children with Disability Act as provided for by the federal laws (Florida Department of Education, 2017).
The various state and federal laws have their foundation from the theories discussed above. Vygotsky�s theory asserts that the environment has a greater impact on the learning process. The CCDBG, HIPPY, IDEA and PDF policies discussed above are meant to create a suitable learning environment for the children. Efforts are made to ensure that learning is effective both at home and in school. The pre-school education mathematics follows Piaget�s and Kolb�s principles that assert that learning is an internal process through experimentation and experience.

References
Florida Department of Education (2017) Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from: http://www.fldoe.org/policy/federal-edu-programs/title-i-part-a-improving-the-academic- /preschool.stm
Heckman, J.J. (2010, December). Invest in early childhood development: Reduce deficits, strengthen the economy. Retrieved fromhttp://www.heckmanequation.org
Kamii, C. (2000). Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget's Theory. Early Childhood Education Series. Teachers College Press, PO Box 20, Williston, VT 05495- 0020.
Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT Press.
Powell, K. C., & Kalina, C. J. (2009). Cognitive and social constructivism: Developing tools for an effective classroom. Education, 130(2), 241.
US Department of Education (n.d) Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/index.html

October 07, 2021

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