A well written research paper on elementary education may start like this: Elementary education helps students develop fundamental skills that they will need to succeed in future academics and in life. While the specific topics and student ages vary from country to country, most elementary education programs focus on developing skills in mathematics, reading, and writing.
Learning these skills provides a foundation for future academic development. A beginning elementary education student, for instance, might learn the basics of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. As the student progresses, she can apply this basic knowledge to master algebra, geometry, and calculus. Without this elementary foundation, higher-level learning is not possible.
Elementary education in most places also gives students a chance to develop social skills. Socialization teaches students what behaviors are and are not acceptable while also giving them an opportunity to develop communication skills so they can form friendships with classmates and people they will meet in the future.
Elementary education criteria vary across the world. In the United States, for instance, states can set their own curricula. The federal government provides some oversight and assistance, but does not have the authority to mandate educational goals. The federal government can, of course, choose to cut its funding to schools that do not meet certain criteria.
Early childhood education has evolved significantly over the past five decades and is now a major component in the field of education. However, less than half of the existing preschool teachers possess a Bachelor's degree, with many never attending college at all. Since research indicates that student achievement is closely linked to teacher qualifications, it stands to reason that early childhood educators should aggressively pursue educational opportunities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. At one agency in North Carolina, staff members, inexperienced with very young children, are placed into classrooms and expected to incorporate early childcare practices without the proper instruction on how to do so. Although monthly training sessions do exist, these classes do not focus specifically on early childhood topics. Therefore, a training program is needed which will accommodate the needs of these staff members and provide the necessary education to more effectively work with young children. The proposed training program will incorporate the adult learning principles of self-directed learning and intrinsic motivation and both on-site and online methods of content delivery to provide training in early childhood education.
Early childhood education has evolved considerably since its beginnings in the mid-1900s. Prior to the 1960s, a stay-at-home mother or other family relatives cared for the majority of children at home. The few childcare programs that did exist focused only upon the skills needed by children to succeed in elementary school. Nursery schools, utilized by the middle and upper class, were often staffed by the mothers of attending children and provided a sense of continuity between the home and a child's first experienced outside of the home. This standard changed briefly with the onset of World War II, as more women were needed in the work force and full-day childcare programs for over 2 million children were implemented as a matter of national emergency. The end of the war, however, led to women resuming their traditional roles within the home and a decline in the importance of childcare.
The decades of the 1960s and 1970s were marked by great changes in values and traditions; it was during this time that the War on Poverty took root. The idea behind this poverty "war" was to encourage the greatest possible participation in social and economic programs at all levels of government for those in need. These needs were as diverse as the people of our country. From small town farmers to urban dwellers, government programs reflected the diversity of the population and its problems.
One significant program arising from the War on Poverty was Head Start, created in 1965.
- Like the nursery schools of the previous decade, Head Start programs were based upon parental and family involvement.
- Parents participated in educational activities and decision-making processes and often served as paid employees. Parental participation grew in importance, as noted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation system.
- In order to achieve accreditation, one requirement is that early childhood programs must foster a working relationship between teachers and parents.
A second accreditation program, the Child Development Association program, also places emphasis on family-centered models.
- In addition to focusing on parental and family involvement, Head Start has provided a comprehensive range of services to children and their families.
- These include educational services, parenting resources, health screenings, and social services.
- During the early years of its existence, attempts were made to quantify the gains made by children within the program by comparing IQ test scores of such children to their non-participant counterparts.
- Although initial gains in IQ were observed among participating children, by third grade, little difference in IQ existed between the two groups. However, Head Start still remains very effective, producing positive long-term outcomes for children.