My long association in this field, and the research I have been engaged in, has clearly shown that the fiPrema Danielrst six years of a child's life are crucial, and that we have to see that optimal development is ensured at this stage. In addition, a large part of the development of the human brain occurs in the first five years of life. Stimulation of the brain in the early years leads to the development and enhanced learning capacities of the child. Early sensory inputs as well as the expression of warmth are known to have a decisive and long lasting influence on the child. Therefore in this period, fulfilling physical needs, emotional security and appropriate stimulation builds a sense of basic trust and ensures lifelong curiosity and a will to learn.

A good Early Childhood Education programme, for children aged from 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 years, which is at the playschool, junior kindergarten and at the senior kindergarten levels, has shown to have a positive effect on children's development, when the curriculum is appropriately structured, with a strong component of learning through play.

Suitable toys and materials, child appropriate classrooms and outdoor spaces provide a motivating environment that responds sensitively to each child's individual needs, and will stimulate their curiosity while recognising their particular interests.

Therefore the curriculum needed for young children is designed to suit their developmental needs, is child-centered and activity-based, and of an enhanced quality and suited to diverse environments.

The teacher, who interacts with the children all day long, must help the children to see themselves as learners and feel that they are noticed and their work valued.

Prema Daniel

Centre for Training and Resources in Early Childhood Education