Early Childhood Education is an incredibly rewarding career. If you are interested in becoming an Early Childhood educator or are currently in the Early Childhood Education space, knowing what to expect and how to prepare will empower you to be the best educator possible. Today, we will take a look at some of the leading teaching techniques and methods that drive education in the Early Childhood space.

Early Childhood Education is an incredibly rewarding career. If you are interested in becoming an Early Childhood educator or are currently in the Early Childhood Education space, knowing what to expect and how to prepare will empower you to be the best educator possible. Today, we will take a look at some of the leading teaching techniques and methods that drive education in the Early Childhood space.

Ready to take the first step into an exciting career in Early Childhood Education? Turn to the Sunrise Children’s Foundation, a leading provider of infant care in Nevada, to learn about exciting career opportunities in your area. Get in touch to learn more about our Early Head Start program and how we can help you take the next step in your journey as an Early Childhood educator.

Explore our Early Childhood Education jobs today!

What Are the Methods and Techniques of Teaching in Early Education?

Students who study the art of teaching learn the important methods and techniques that will empower them to guide their students through the learning journey. Because there are different developmental stages of childhood, different methods and techniques are used with each age group.

While younger children — those infant-age and preschool-aged — are not yet at the stage of learning important dates, facts, historical events, and mathematical functions, there are still science-based methods and techniques that should be employed during the learning process. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at some of these methods and techniques and how they influence learning in an Early Education classroom. Some of the methods and techniques we will look at include:

  • Cooperative learning
  • Differentiation
  • Gamification
  • Active learning
  • Project-based learning (PBL)
  • Teacher-centered vs. student-centered learning
  • Play-based learning

Cooperative Learning

This is a method that is wildly successful when properly implemented, especially with older children. However, it’s still a method that can be utilized in an Early Childhood Education setting.

Cooperative learning is a strategy that encourages students to work with one another during the learning process. In an Early Childhood Education setting, this means children are learning how to communicate with their peers and are developing critical skills, including:

  • Selfishness
  • Sharing
  • Expressing their emotions
  • Understanding the emotions of others
  • Empathy, and so much more

Differentiation

Differentiation is the concept that the learning experience should be tailored to meet the unique needs of all students. In all classrooms, especially in an Early Childhood Education classroom, children are all at different starting points in their development and understanding of the world around them.

Some children may have more social and emotional skills, while others are still working on those skills. Some students may have great control over their bodies, while others are still developing their gross motor skills because of delayed development or other issues.

Socioeconomic status, ability levels, family dynamics, and health issues contribute to a child’s school readiness when entering daycare or an Early Head Start program. Differentiation is all about a teacher’s ability to understand these differences and accommodate them as needed so that everyone has a level playing field. This is often one of the hardest techniques to implement in a classroom because it requires constant observation and analysis of a student’s development on the teacher’s part.

Gamification

This is a relatively new concept in the teaching world, but it has been one that has proven to be effective. Gamification is the idea of taking a boring or mundane concept and using gameplay to make it more engaging or exciting. In an Early Childhood Education setting, gamification often looks like:

  • Playing peer or adult-led games
  • Creating games that have defined rules
  • Teaching critical skills like healthy habits and manners through gameplay

Across higher age groups, gamification is typically accompanied by some sort of technological device. However, because of the rapid brain development that happens during the early years, gamification should be executed without using technology, specifically tablets or phones. Music and dancing, however, are common elements that should be incorporated during gamification in the Early Childhood Education setting.

Active Learning

Active learning takes on many forms but essentially requires a child to be actively engaged in the learning process. This may be through listening, participating, or collaborating with other students. In Early Childhood Education, active learning is constantly happening, but on a much smaller scale than you might observe with older children. This is because children are encouraged to seek answers independently through play, questioning, examining, and overall curiosity.

When active learning does take place, it generally looks like a teacher giving instructions, giving directions on a procedure, modeling, and encouraging repetition of certain behaviors.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Project-based learning (PBL) is another popular teaching method that, when executed properly, can be very valuable for children.

Project-based learning requires students to culminate their learning into a project, often of their choice. For example, if a student has finished learning about proper hygiene habits, they may create a song, play, or piece of artwork about what they’ve learned. This project is then shared with the teacher or other classmates and is a way to explain what has been learned.

In the Early Childhood setting, project learning can be implemented and often is, but usually on a much smaller scale. This project-based approach is typically led by the teacher and encourages children to turn to their teachers and adults for support.

Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Learning

Teacher-centered learning refers to the concept that education in the classroom is largely driven by the teacher’s ideas. Meanwhile, student-centered learning requires the students to entertain their own ideas, which will help guide the learning process. Teachers still walk alongside students during the student-centered approach.

In the Early Childhood Education setting, there is a fair mix of teacher-centered and student-centered learning. Early Childhood educators drive the curriculum, establishing clear and concrete skills for children to work on and develop. However, children are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. They are encouraged to ask questions, turn to teachers when help is needed, and express their ideas and interests.

Play-Based Learning

Finally, one of the most popular methods for guiding Early Childhood educators is play-based learning, which is the concept that learning happens through play. Infants and young children learn by exploring, touching, tasting, and playing. A Head Start educator provides the necessary toys and activities for play-based learning.

What Is the Difference Between Teaching Methods and Teaching Techniques?

The terms “teaching methods” and “teaching techniques” are often used interchangeably, but there is a clear difference between each. To be an effective teacher, you must understand these differences and know when to lean on a method and when to use a technique. Let’s take a closer look to learn more.

Teaching Methodologies Provide Frameworks

You should think of teaching methods as methodologies used to ensure and encourage that learning is happening. These methodologies rely on teaching frameworks that are applied across all age groups, including Early Childhood Education.

Two common frameworks utilized in Early Childhood Education are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a framework established by social psychologist Abraham Maslow. This framework is most recognized by its pyramid shape which details eight levels that guide an individual’s growth.

At the bottom half of the pyramid are psychological needs, including shelter, food, safety, and belonging. Once those lower-level elements are established, individuals can focus on their self-esteem, self-awareness, and overall sense of self. Once those levels are established, an individual reaches the top of the pyramid, self-actualization, or the ability to reach their full potential.

Early Childhood educators understand the importance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and focus on developing and ensuring that the lower levels are in place. This means ensuring that students’ basic needs are met.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy often accompanies Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs. Unlike Maslow’s, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework that defines the learning journey. As with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Bloom’s Taxonomy is a pyramid-shaped framework with six defined levels in a hierarchical order. The order is as follows:

  • Knowledge: Being able to remember the information
  • Comprehension: Being able to explain the information
  • Application: The ability to apply the information
  • Analysis: Breaking down and analyzing the information
  • Synthesizing: Being able to put together the information learned to create a new piece of information
  • Evaluation: Being able to take ownership of the learning and transfer it onto someone else

With these two popular frameworks, you’ll often hear educators say that they are always “Maslows before Blooms.”

Start Your Career in Early Childhood Education

Ready to become an Early Childhood educator who changes the lives of young children in your community? Turn to the Sunrise Children’s Foundation and discover how a career in Early Childhood Education will impact your life. Learn about tips for starting a Head Start job, different teaching strategies, working with dedicated staff to lesson plan, evaluating student understanding, creating the perfect learning environments, and so much more.

Explore our Early Childhood Education jobs today! 

Sources:

How Play-Based Learning Enhances Access for All Students. (2023).

Mcleod, S. (2024). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The Six Major Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. (2024).

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