Early Childhood Education. Does It Really Works?

Updated on July 04, 2017
B.G. asks from Readsboro, VT
17 answers

I found a number of online early childhood education programs. Is it really good idea?

EDIT: I am talking about online "tools" / programs / guides helping you to do ECE activities with very little babies. I.e. every day it guides you what to do with baby (play-based)...

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answers from New York on

Just play with baby. Sing, talk. They learn thru everyday life. Point to things, count. Seriously. There is plenty of time for educational programs

Edit My Answer
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answers from Philadelphia on

I read to my girls since the day I brought them home from the hospital. I also talked to them a lot. "I'm going to change your diaper. One snap, two snaps etc. I would count the steps as we went up and down the stairs,I would point out I am wearing red you are wearing pink. I sang songs to them like the days of the week and months of the year. Not sure if it was genetics or all I did with them but my girls were bright. My oldest was in 3rd grade and tested at a 11th grade reading level, my youngest tested at 12th grade by the beginning of 5 th grade. I think you don't need a fancy program just read to your child.

Also, check out the book "how to raise a brighter child"

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answers from Springfield on

If you are asking if an online program is a good way for an adult to earn a degree in early childhood education, sure. As long as there is a component for hands-on experience in the classroom, many online programs are very effective.

If you are asking if an online program is a good substitute for preschool, absolutely not, no way, never, just no.

There is no substitute for the social element of preschools. Sure kids learn their ABC's, 123's, shapes, colors, etc,, but they can learn those by reading books with mom or dad watching Micky Mouse Clubhouse. One one huge benefit of preschools, daycares and other structured settings is the social interaction. Kids learn how to socialize with each other, how to listen to a teacher, how to cooperate with other kids.

Kids who attend a structured program often have an easier time transitioning to Kindergarten. That is not something they can learn while sitting in front of a computer.

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answers from Miami on

ETA after your additional info:
Like Diane, I'm hoping that you aren't planning on putting baby in front of the computer. You'll cause that baby damage if you do that.

Babies have to learn where they are "in space". That means moving, listening, seeing. You get age appropriate toys for them to play with. They get used to books by having you read to them the chunky books with pictures and not too many words. They put toys in their mouths and throw them around. You play peek-a-boo with them so that they EVENTUALLY understand that Mommy will come back when they can't see her.

Reading about activities is great. But don't have a "program" for a little baby. They eat, sleep, poop, have baths, and get stronger as they grow. Tummy time, floor time, listening to music, looking at faces, smiling, cooing, laughing, moving around as they grow...

Babies don't really need programs. People will try to SELL you programs, but it's just not necessary.

It's a little hard to understand exactly what you are asking. Are you talking about little kids sitting at a computer? I sure hope not! Are you talking about getting a college degree in early education? Better make sure that it's certified and not one of these bogus places that you pay money to and then no one accepts it as a bonafide degree.

If you're talking about early education programs in an actual physical setting for preschoolers, make absolutely sure that it is PLAY-BASED. Not a teacher sitting at a desk, or children sitting at desks. No "work-sheets" or flashcards. Preschoolers need to play, play, play and learn to get along with others. It's a PROCESS, and not an overnight miracle.

You'd get better answers if you would edit your question...

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answers from Columbus on

Are you referring to online lesson plans for young infants? A specific curriculum of what to do with your child each day? Or are you talking about something like the Baby Einstein videos?

If you're referring to something like Baby Einstein, I'd hold off. I just don't think that infants should have any screen time, and there's no evidence that children who watch the videos have any greater understanding of language than kids who don't watch them. And it's because children learn best through interaction with their parents and other adults.

If you're talking about online lesson plans (ex. today talk to your child about birds, show your child a feather, etc.), at first they seem like a great idea for parents who don't have much experience with children. But I don't think that they are necessary. And I think that they may even be detrimental if you take them too seriously.

One of the things that I like most about being a parent is that it's allowed me to start looking at things through the eyes of a child-- to see just how amazing even the smallest things are to a child. A squirrel in a tree, the worms that appear on the driveway after a heavy rain , watching the vacuum cleaner suck things up, the stars in the sky. Those were things I never thought much about. But they were fascinating to my young child, and they gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to him about how the world works.

You don't need a lesson plan or guide to tell you how to interact with an infant. Sing, read, and talk to your child. Like Diane said, think about the five senses. Let your infant feel the cookie dough that you're making. Let him smell the bottle of perfume you open. Such small things, but that's all your child needs. I worry that if you are focused on following a lesson plan, you'll lose sight of those little things.

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answers from Boston on

I don't see exactly what you mean by "programs" or tools for very little babies. If you need ideas, and you are using some on line parenting sites instead of books on "the first year" or parenting magazines that give you very general ideas of what to expect at 1 month, 2 months, and so on, that's okay. If you're putting a baby in front of a computer (or TV or iPad) screen, then that's a huge no-no. If you're pushing for academic skills, please stop immediately and talk to a child development specialist.

Also, what do you mean by "does it work"? What is your goal? What "progress" are you hoping to see? Are you looking for measurable results?

It's vital to remember that babies and children develop in different areas and at different rates. Some walk earlier than others, but talk later. Some crawl, some skip it entirely. Some potty train at 3, some at 4 or later.

Instead of looking at drills or programs, think of different experiences. Kids should be outside, looking at birds and clouds and leaves and the neighbor's doggie. They should put their toes in the kiddie pool, the beach sand, the cool grass and so on. They should feel the difference between warm sand and the cool sea. You should sing, talk, read, point, and so on. Think of the 5 senses: they should hear, see, taste, touch, and smell. (Okay, you have to be sensible about taste until they are eating real foods, but you get the idea.)

You don't need anything special except a library card to the children's library and then check out a board book every few days and maybe a DVD now and then. Check to see when there are story hours or a guitar player or a puppet show for tiny kids), some different tactile surfaces for them to touch at home (think of those blankets with different patches on them), and a mobile or a baby "gym" with hanging things above that the baby can look at while lying on her back or that she can begin to reach for later on. During bath time, let her experience the water rinsing her. When the baby can sit up, all you need are some small plastic containers for stacking and a wooden spoon for banging on them. When she can sit up reliably well, try a plastic laundry basket in the regular bathtub - the water flows through it, the sides help hold her up, and you can put a funnel, a plastic colander, and some measuring cups with handles in their with her, maybe with a floating duck or boat. You need to watch her, of course, but let her play and splash and touch. Go to the park or the elementary school playground, and sit on the swing with her until she's big enough to sit in an infant swing.

All learning is play-based. Steer completely away from academic "skills" and let the brain develop naturally. There is ZERO benefit to having a toddler learn state capitals, be forced to hold a crayon and color in the lines, or be required to learn the alphabet! Don't push - just expose her and enjoy seeing what she likes without focusing on what she's not doing yet.

Edited to add: I'm just blown away by the day care vs. no day care remark! That's total BS that "we can always tell" as if kids in day care do SOOOOO much better - do not be misled by that. I'm too pissed off to even speak. And that says a lot that someone like me can be rendered speechless.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I really liked mommy and me classes when my children were first born to age 2 or 3. I felt it helped talking to other mothers going through similar things. They also have a teacher who guides us to enjoy time with our babies. Newborns are not as exciting when it comes to singing and dancing (obviously) but there are many things to help them.

edit: I like what J.C. said. I recall talking to my babies and explaining what I was doing. Reading to them is also very important for their development. My kids are older, so it has been awhile.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Per your edit: These sort of guide for parents can't hurt. But really, love them, sing to them, carry them around, talk to them, give them time to explore their fingers and toes and safe toys.... babies are great at learning what they need to know. I always suggest keeping the tv off most of the time, letting life unfold in real time. :) Basic is better. Don't worry about 'education' so much in these early months.. .they are taking in PLENTY.

B., could you be more specific? Is the online ECE program aimed at children or potential adult caregivers?

My feeling is that both children and adults do better in real world settings. I worked in Early childhood ed for 20 years. Learning from instructors whom one can talk to directly helps immensely because it allows for asking more complex questions. Book/media/online learning only goes so far; I learned from some great preschool teachers and infant caregivers by being in their presence and observing them, asking questions and getting to understand the interactions between children, children/caregivers, and very importantly, caregivers and parents.

Children, likewise, do better with real world experiences in learning, not online. There is a time and place for electronics and kids. Our son didn't do anything on computers until he was 6, and then it was some PBS video games. I was his first and best teacher. He went to preschool to learn how to be with other children and to trust other adults to meet his needs. Social learning is actually a lot more important than academics in the younger years. It's the biggest requirement for Kindergarten, by the way, not numbers or letters: Knowledge of social behavior, self-regulation, openness to new situations -- these are things that take a long time for a teacher to instill. FAR easier for kindy teacher to teach numbers and letters. (Note that this is not just my opinion, but was a conclusion reached
after surveying kindergarten teachers; I forget the organization which did this survey at their conference. Kindergarten teachers would rather your child can listen to the teacher, move through the day with the group and sit together without negative interactions than to know their ABCs when they start.)

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answers from Norfolk on

Well, in the absence of learning opportunities at home (parents aren't reading to or interacting with kids and plops the kids down in front of a screen and/or device to keep them quiet) - then yes - it works and helps a lot.
IF the parents are doing a lot at home, then it doesn't hurt but it's not that necessary.

However I do think that some parents go over board with the drills and workbooks.
I don't think it's the end of the world if a child isn't reading on their own when they start kindergarten.
You want learning to be fun - not a chore.
Like so much else in life - it's a delicate balance and everyone s balance point is going to be a little different.

Ah - there you go - 'ONLINE early childhood education programs'.
Online is so much different than a Head Start type program
"Online" falls into the 'plopping the kid in front of a screen' category and nope - those are not necessary at all.
In fact - having the kid interact more with machines than real people can actually delay milestones.

"Letting a baby play on an iPad might lead to speech delays, study says"


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answers from Dallas on

Online? As is sitting a kid in front of a screen? I think not. I think too many kids are given a screen which acts as a babysitter. Lazy parenting in my opinion. Of course some screen time is ok if it is very limited.

WOW the remark about daycare kids vs non day care kids. That's so off and it's sad that the labels are out there like that. Being in daycare vs no day care is not a signal that there may be a classroom issue.

I've been in the classroom 17 years and I can spot daycare, mom's day out and children who had instruction at home. It's PARENTING your child and teaching them.

If any teacher at our school said something like what was said below, the principal would rethink her job. You don't prelabel children like that.

ANY kid daycare or not can have behavior as listed below at any time even with the best parents. Don't be so quick to judge others.

Behavior depends on how the child is parented. If you expect a screen to parent your child and teach some basic knowledge and structure then you're just kidding yourself.

Children need to be raised by parents (along with day care, nanny if one is involved) with some structure and socialization. They need playtime with other children, they don't necessarily need classyime IF they are being engaged with learning opportunities.

Early childhood education can be very beneficial if a child needs a little help with speech, etc. I don't think it hurts any child to have early childhood education but don't forget that they also need to be a child as well.

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answers from Boston on

Today's online tools are like yesterday's books on parenting. You can check them out, try a few activities that are play-based and see if you learn something new that is fun for your child. Or, if the program is costly, you could borrow a book from the library to achieve the same results. I do think that new ideas are always something to consider. Of course, I am never for drilling anything with a young child. All my best.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I think it works. The schools usually have reading and sensory stations. At my daughters day care they did experiments and other projects. The best thing is it shows them discipline. They also teach how to behave in a classroom setting and being respectful along with standing in line and waiting your turn.

When I registered my daughter for Kindergarten at her school there was a mother and her son in front of us in line. The little boy was running everywhere. The mother called the name numerous times. The teacher that was helping to register the kids said to the mother, " he didn't go to daycare did he". She said he hadn't and that she decided to keep him home. After he was registered the teacher said we can always tell the ones who didn't go to daycare. Those are the ones we have problems with in the beginning. I was in line hoping the little boy wasn't in my daughter class because I could tell he was going to be a distraction.

I think even if they are in daycare part time it is good for them. Just find a school that is reputable and visit before making a decision to place your child there. Good luck!

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answers from Springfield on

perhaps you should add on to your question.
are you talking for you or your child?
will this be the only form education?

ETA: why not just play with your child and not have some internet program telling you how to play with your kid? i used online resources to know if my child was hitting developmental milestones. and for ideas but never followed any programs.

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answers from Portland on

Not sure what your question is - do you mean, are they legitimate programs?

I have a few friends who have early education degrees. They did not do them online however. A couple have gone on to further their careers.

Added: Saw B's response, I misinterpreted the question entirely. No idea. We never used them.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think the whole purpose behind this sort of thing is to give parents a set "thing" to do with their infant. Something guided that will help them feel goal oriented and that they're being super parents.

I think babies that have normal interactions with parents and the world do just as well as babies that have classical music played all the time and play brain games with mommy or daddy when it's time to interact with the baby.

But if it makes the mommy or daddy feel better about playing with their baby and it makes them do more with the baby then by all means, do it.

There isn't anything wrong with it. Learning about tummy time, mirror time, toys that help muscles develop, etc...these are ALL very important things that will help the baby reach their next stage of development. I think you should go for it.

I have a lot of years in childcare and have owned my own center. I always gave the teachers a lot of materials to study so they could interact with the babies and toddlers in a more productive way than just reading, which is WAY important, but it gave them a specific pool of skills to draw on when the baby was fussy or didn't want to do anything.It was a resource they'd never forget.

There are a LOT of books at most libraries and if they don't have books then you can find them through interlibrary loan. I got a bunch of books when the kids were infants and toddlers and we played lots of games and stuff. They loved the interaction with me.

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answers from San Francisco on

Talk, READ, sing, play. Get your baby outside and experiencing things.



answers from Denver on

I read a lot about this. The best thing for babies is to constantly talk to them, show them things and explain them and read to them. That's about it. Don't do TV, videos, etc. Babies learn by interacting with other people and tangible things. Get books that have textures in them or pop ups. If you want to follow a program that's fine, but don't get stuck doing things that involve a TV or computer screen.

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