AILA makes use of these “privileged domains” as well as the eagerness and capability of toddlers and preschoolers to learn by providing them content that stimulates engagement in literacy, numeracy, STEAM, and 21st century skills. For children to succeed in more structured early learning environments and to be prepared for future academic and social growth, several important areas elements need to be covered.
First, exposure to basic core learning areas such as letters, numbers, and colors is fundamental. It is not necessary for the child to master these concepts, but a strong background in reading and math concepts have been shown to be a predictor of future academic success.
Second is social emotional learning (SEL). Children who can manage their emotions, understand and relate to others with different perspectives, and make solid positive choices will enhance their ability to succeed in school, in their career, and in life. Research has shown that strong SEL skills can improve academic achievement by 11 percentile points, increase social behaviors such as kindness, sharing, and empathy, and improve students’ attitudes towards school, thereby reducing proclivities toward stress and/or depression (Durlak et al., 2011).
Third are the 4C’s –communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) advocates for the integration of these skills in early learning experiences for children beginning at 18 months. It further advocates for a learning environment that accommodates varying interest and skill development.