Early learning has become essential to the long-term academic and social success of our students.
Early education programs can positively impact student learning at a critical point in their development, helping them to interpret and form relationships and develop an emotional understanding that they will be able to build on and carry with them throughout their lives.
While lessons in core subjects like math, science, and reading are inarguably important, “children are multi-dimensional ‘whole’ beings whose development is complex and rich,” (Flook, 2019) and early learning that focuses on ways that children grow and learn in their relationships, identity, and overall well-being helps pave the way for whole-child development that’s necessary for students to become successful learners.
Research-Backed Benefits of Early Learning
Early education programs are quickly gaining more recognition, especially with solid research to support them!
Comprehensive reviews of the science on children’s development and learning have shown:
- Brain development is shaped by consistent, supportive relationships, responsive communications, and modeling of positive behaviors. Children need to feel emotionally, physically safe and feel connected, engaged, and challenged.
- Learning is social, emotional, and academic. Positive relationships and emotions open the mind, whereas negative emotions like fear of failure, anxiety, and self-doubt hinder the brain’s ability to process information and learn.
- Adversity produces toxic stress that affects learning and behavior, but how schools respond matters. Awareness, empathy, and cultural competence can buffer the effects of adversity and make a significant difference.
That’s why the Learning Policy Institute has identified four ways to best promote child development and nurture the potential in all children.
- Foster a supportive environment that promotes strong relationships among staff, students, and families.
- Implement meaningful, engaging instructional practices that develop students’ ability to manage their own learning.
- Develop habits, skills, and mindsets that build students’ social, emotional, and academic competence.
- Create an integrated system of school supports that include extended learning opportunities and community partnerships.
Combined, these four steps make up a comprehensive framework that reinforces each one while growing the whole child and setting up each learner for long-term success.
Early Learning Programs & Activities to Start Using Today
This critical role of early learning is why Discovery Education has partnered with Sesame Workshop to help educators incorporate meaningful early education programs right away.
Our new Sesame Learning Channel offers ready-to-use lessons for PreK through grade 2 that bolster whole-child development through playful learning experiences, helping all kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.
Through songs, stories, and live action experiences, familiar furry friends like Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and the Count model concepts for young students and spark curiosity, activate thinking, and engage group conversations and collaborations.
Educators can find ready-to-use lesson plans, embedded teaching tips, and weekly themed activities through Number World, Letter Time, Celebrations, Feelings Time, and Coming Together series—all focusing on foundational skills and concepts that encourage whole-child growth and a sense of belonging.
Our goal is to make it easier for educators to find and use playful learning experiences for young students and ensure all our learners are equitably equipped with meaningful opportunities to explore, learn, and grow.