Early Childhood Learning: It’s never too soon to start
published : 19 Nov 2019 at 14:34
writer: Christopher Bruton
Christopher F. Bruton interviews Rose Marie Wanchupela and Wanchai Chaiyasit of Rose Marie Academy.
What is special about Rose Marie Academy for Early Childhood Education?
Although Rose Marie Academy is a full curriculum registered school teaching primary and secondary curricula, a special feature is the Child Center Program, registered under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. This Child Center Program caters for children from 18 months of age up through five years, before entering the Ministry of Education registered Primary Education Stream.
The Center includes an Activity Play Group catering for 18-month-olds through two years, with small children supervised by parents or grand-parents to assure their confidence and security. Age-appropriate indoor and outdoor activities including music and movement, together with special events, enable children to develop at their own pace. As they progress to kindergarten stages, children may be divided according to ability and orientation, working individually or in small groups.
At what age might small children meaningfully start the education process?
While some countries have a policy that education should not start until the age of seven or eight, recent research suggests that learning can be achieved at very young ages. Some educationalists suggest that even at the pre-natal stage, a child foetus has awareness and can benefit from talking and music while still in the womb.
Formal education practices tend to depend on external factors such as working parents, availability of care-givers, location and availability of types of schools, whereas ideally early education should depend on the preparedness of the child. But in any case, informal education should start by three years old and more formal education by four years old.
What kind of education can be offered at an early age?
At three years old, education should concentrate on developing the senses, imagination, social skills and readiness to learn. At four years, education should concentrate on developing motor skills, pre-reading and pre-mathematical skills. Some children will take pleasure in reading words and catch on to contextual clues. By five years, formal reading, including phonics and mathematics, can come on stream, along with advanced motor skills.
How does early learning differ from later learning stages?
Early education should encourage free exploration, non-conformity, informal and changing settings, with lower expectations of self-discipline.
Play groups are the precursors to formal education, paving the way by overcoming separation anxieties away from care-givers, increasing sociability and exploration.
Why do children pick up languages so well at an early age?
Small children learn by simply imitating rather than using higher level thinking. They enjoy new sounds and experience a fun element not always present in later formal education. Bilingualism and multi-language skills can be acquired almost automatically by very young children playing in a multi-cultural environment.
What special teacher training is necessary for early-year child education?
To become an early-year child educator, one needs to have a good sense of humour, knowledge of the stages of child development, and ability to recognise potential learning difficulties and how to take remedial action.
Guiding the early-year education of small children is immensely important, because it can affect the later years, and even the whole lifecycle. There is a misguided assumption that it is easier to teach younger children, whereas in fact this requires more and broader-based skills from the teacher. It is only now that there is realisation of the importance of early year education, so Thailand is just beginning to take account of needs and to seek to respond to them.
What are the special characteristics of Rose Marie Academy education?
A warm, welcoming environment prevails, with small classes where children receive individual attention.
The curriculum is based on child development milestones, exploration, imaginative play, and skills-based learning. Strengths and challenges are recognised at an early age, with importance placed on encouraging empathy and consideration for others.
A special feature of Rose Marie Academy is attention to children with learning difficulties and physical handicaps. Remarkable successes in these fields will be presented in a subsequent article.
Pioneers in Early Childhood Education
Rose Marie Wanchupela
Rose Marie Wanchupela hails from Bloomburg, Pennsylvania. Born in 1939, educated at Syracuse University in political science, she came to Thailand as one of the first cohort of Peace Corps volunteers in 1962, beginning her educational career in Northeast Thailand. She subsequently taught at teacher training colleges at Songkhla and Nakhon Ratchasima, then helped establish an English Department at Bangkok College (Subsequently University). She has eleven years teaching at International School Bangkok and a master’s degree in education at Syracuse University. In 1991, Rose Marie ventured into pre-school education with her International Education Institute, catering for both Thai and expatriate children. By 1996, this was expanded to an integrated child centre and primary and secondary schools within the Nichada Thani Complex in Nonthaburi Province north of Bangkok, now known as Rose Marie Academy.
Khun Wanchai Chaiyasit was born in 1952 in Kalasin Province in Northeast Thailand. As a culmination of his secondary school education, he was selected to participate in the American Field Service Scholarship Program in 1970, after which he graduated from Chiang Mai University in 1976 in Clinical Psychology, subsequently working as a clinical psychologist at the Child Mental Health Center in Bangkok, also gaining a Master degree in Counselling at the University of Northern Colorado. During his career, he has worked in clinical evaluations, psychological assessment, counselling and psychotherapy for children and adolescents, while teaching students at undergraduate and graduate levels at Mahidol, Thammasat, Kasetsart and Chiang Mai Universities. From 1996 he served as Director of the Mental Health Promotion Division of the Ministry of Public Health. Khun Wanchai joined Rose Marie Academy in 1998 in the capacity of Deputy Executive Director and Director of Counselling. The presence of an exceptionally-qualified Director and leading clinical psychologist sets Rose Marie Academy apart as a specially qualified institution, especially for early learning and educational guidance for child learning disabilities.
Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, email@example.com. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.