The Importance of the First Five Years

Atlanta Area Moms Blog is proud to partner with Little Sunshine's Playhouse & Preschool® for this sponsored post.

My youngest started Kindergarten this last year and honestly, the transition was harder for me than it was for him.  He was prepared for the structure of the school day, well-socialized, and felt ready to conquer the world…or at least ready to conquer “big boy school.”  I knew that early childhood education was important, but I loved seeing first hand how his preschool experience prepared him for this transition.

Our partners at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool® know exactly how special the years from birth to age 5 are in children’s lives.  Keep reading to see what they have to say about how a quality early childhood education can make a difference in your child’s development and future success.

During their first five years, children begin to express their personalities, which can be adorable, hilarious and even embarrassing at times (as nearly every parent or caregiver can attest).

These years are also a crucial time for cognitive, emotional and social development. Early childhood education plays an essential role in fostering children’s development before the age of 5 and prepares them for success for the rest of their academic years and beyond.

If you’re considering enrolling your child in a local preschool, there are several important criteria to look for in the program you choose:

  • A defined curriculum
  • Structured lesson plans
  • A variety of hands-on learning experiences
  • Qualified teachers who encourage parental involvement and regular communication

Cognitive Development

Young children are naturally full of creativity and curiosity to explore the world around them. It’s truly incredible what a child can pick up just through informal play, social interaction, and observation.

  • Between the ages of 2 and 5, kids start to think and reason
  • By age 2, the average child can say about 50 words
  • By age 5, most children can say thousands of words, carry on conversations and tell stories

But to gain the foundational skills needed for future academic success, it takes some guidance in a safe, secure, nurturing environment. A positive preschool experience enables your child’s cognitive development to thrive by taking advantage of the years when learning occurs much more quickly.

  • According to the widely-adopted Reggio Emilia philosophy of early education, children have the right to teachers and an educational environment that cultivates a lifelong interest in learning.
  • The early education classroom should be led by a qualified teacher with the appropriate credentials for providing the quality learning experiences every parent expects.  
  • Teachers should use a variety of age-appropriate activities that stimulate interest across a range of subjects, from basic reading and math to science, language, art, music, and drama.

Emotional and Social Development

Another benefit of quality early education is that it provides an outlet for young children to express emotions with people outside of the family.

  • Between the ages of 2 and 5, children should start learning how to manage their feelings.
  • It is important to provide a way for young children to interact with their peers so they can develop all-important social skills.
  • From sharing toys to discovering they won’t always get their way in life, playing with other children provides a rich educational experience in and of itself, in addition to lessons taught in the classroom.

Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson pointed out that social-emotional development occurs in stages.

  • His research suggests children need to learn from their peers to grow into socially healthy adults.
  • The first phase of socialization occurs by ages 1 or 2. The child who is well cared for develops trust, security and an overall optimism for life. Children who suffer abuse are more likely to become insecure and mistrustful of others.
  • Ages 3 and 5 are the “play ages,” according to Erikson. This is when children begin to imagine, cooperate with others, lead and follow. The best way to practice these skills is to play with other children who are close in age — both at preschool and through regular playdates.  

A quality early education program goes beyond teaching academic skills. It also helps children foster relationships with their peers and trusted adults.

It also maintains open lines of communication and encourages parental involvement in the learning process. At Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool®, for example, parents receive daily emails, known as Luvnotes™, summarizing their child’s activities each day, along with pictures or videos. KiddieCams™ provide parents with viewing access to any location in the school, from a monitor placed within the school.  

After your child returns home from a day at preschool, take some time to just listen. Chances are, you’ll hear stories that communicate important information — their favorite activities, their biggest challenges and how important their friends are to them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the unique Creatively Shine™ curriculum at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool®, email [email protected] to learn more and schedule your tour of the Alpharetta location!

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Jessica is an adventure-loving, over-committing, and previously organized mother of 2! She and her husband (high school sweethearts) moved to Atlanta in 2006 after graduating college, ready to start their life in the “real world”. They have experienced so many wonderful life milestones while in Atlanta – lived in Buckhead pre-kids, bought a house in great Smyrna neighborhood, had their first child in 2011 (a spunky little girl, Vivian), welcomed their second child exactly 18 months later in 2012 (a creative and crazy little boy, Harrison), and most recently added a Golden Doodle named Winston into the mix. Jessica and her family have since moved to the burbs of Milton where you now find them past 2 horse farms on the right. Jessica has always loved being part of a community, so when the opportunity to join the Atlanta Mom executive team presented itself it was a no brainer! She loved it so much, in fact, that in 2021 she and Natalie joined forces to lead the team and continue connecting with awesome moms across the ATL!