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early years

The benefits of Early Learning

"Our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and most of all, connected to adults and other children."  Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning are a reminder of the importance of early childhood education.

Physical and neurological development is rapid in the first 6 years of life. It offers a crucial window of time in terms of cognitive development. In this critical period, synaptic connections form. Schools have a huge responsibility when you consider that a young child's educational experience has the potential to physically form their brain and impact their ability to thrive throughout education and life.

Early education has a lasting impact. Research shows that it affects academic performance in secondary education and beyond. Indeed, it can be seen that early learning education can give students the essential skills needed for success in future workplaces such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills.

The Benefits of Early Education

Metacognition and Theory of Mind

“Once a child starts thinking for themselves", they keep thinking for themselves”. It’s a powerful statement from Inspired Education’s founder and CEO, Nadim Nsouli. In a socio-constructivist context, children learn to understand their thinking which is deepened by their peers’. Thus, promoting metacognition should begin at an early age. Encouraging children to explain and revisit their processes deepens their self-awareness and understanding.

Expressive and Symbolic Ways of Communicating and Expressing

Through multi-modal means of communicating, representing and expressing, young children can explore, see connections create patterns in their thinking and ultimately deepen their understanding of the world. “They may observe and revisit an object or idea through different media for example drawing, painting, movement, and each layer creates connections and deepens their creative thinking” explained Nadim. It not only enables non-verbal expression but also supports verbal language development. This is particularly apparent in multilingual contexts.

Literacy and Mathematical Thinking

Context and motive for applying literacy and mathematics foster engagement with these subjects. In other words - or Nadim’s to be exact - “by knowing the why, we can teach them how”. Teaching tailored to each child's zone of proximal development ensures continued progression. Whilst personalised instruction gives every child the opportunity to progress.

Facilitating the Benefits of Early Education

Responsive Planning and Assessment

Evidence from evidence-based documentation and meaningful data collection on progress suggests that curriculum planning should be intentional and reflective, taking into account children's interests. Assessment should be an ongoing, formative and responsive process.

The Role of Technology

Technology has the potential to enhance the learning environment by offering greater context for interaction, exploration and reflection. Tools like digital projectors, microscopes, and cameras enrich the experience. Equally, the development of key foundational coding skills may be considered a crucial part of literacy development. Furthermore, technology enables hybrid and virtual learning, which in turn fosters a learning community. “Learning communities are important as it’s a form of educational globalisation. Children should experience the world and benefit from learning relationally with others” Nadim argues.

The Role of Environment

The learning environment is key to a child's experience. The organisation of spaces, tools, and materials impact self-efficacy and relational competencies. As such, educators should select and present their classrooms in a way designed to stimulate curiosity and encourage engagement.

In Partnership with Parents

It’s strongly encouraged that parents should be actively involved in the learning community. This collaborative relationship can benefit the child's development. Where possible, educators should help make the learning programme accessible to parents. One way to do this is through school newsletters and blogs which can help parents understand what their child is working on at school.


Early education is a key stage in any child's development. It impacts their academic success, and well-being (both socially and emotionally), and forms the foundation for their lifelong learning. “There’s much research to support a relationship between the depth of early learning and the acceleration of later learning,” says Nadim. If an educator adopts a long-term approach to learning, they can create a curriculum and an environment that propels a student’s growth. Thus, early learning prepares children for their future by focusing on collaboration, and the use of technology and symbolic languages.

Central to this approach is the belief that even the youngest children are competent. This perspective posits that children should be part of decisions related to their learning. They're capable of constructing theories and understanding the world through their experiences. Children are encouraged as active contributors to their learning community to be involved in the decision-making processes and dialogue within the classroom.

Teachers should encourage reflection and collaboration and collect evidence of each child's progress. Continuous assessment during, instead of at the end, creates a comprehensive picture.

Ultimately, when all of these considerations are mapped into a curriculum, that is when deep learning takes place.

The Inspired Approach to Early Learning promotes an international and open-minded environment. This enables children to express themselves through verbal and non-verbal language. Drawing from some principles of the Reggio Emilia approach, it emphasises deeper questioning, dialogic teacher-child relationships, pedagogical documentation, and the role of the environment in supporting cognitive development. Combined with a rigorous curriculum, it prepares children for the future. “Investing in Early Years is the most powerful investment in future success” concludes the Inspired Education CEO.


‘Attendance in Early Childhood Education and Care Programmes and Academic Proficiencies at Age15’ J. Balladares & Milos Karkaras OECD Working Paper No.214. January 2020

‘Pre-School and Early Home Learning Effects on A Level Outcomes’ EPPSE Project University of Oxford for DfE

‘Realizing 2030: A Divided Vision of the Future’ Research Report by Institute for the Future for Dell Technologies 2019 ’Three Levels of Inter-Subjectivity in Development’ Rochat, Passos-Ferreira, Salem 2009 ’The Evolution of Childhood’ Konner M. Pg 176, Belknap Harvard.

‘Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language’ V.Gallese and M. Stamenov John Benjamins Publishing. ’In dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning’ Carlina Rinaldi Routledge 2006

‘Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia: a selection of his writings 1945-93 ‘Routledge 2012

’Steps to an Ecology of Mind’ Bateson G . University of Chicago 2000 ‘Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia’ V. Vecchi Routledge 2010

’The Meaning Makers: Children learning and using Language to Learn’Wells.G Hodder & Stoughton 1986

‘Language, Culture and Identity in the Early Years’ Tozun Issa &Alison Hatt Bloomsbury 2013

Written by: Nadim Nsouli, founder, chairman, and CEO of Inspired Education