There is information overload on the subject of early childhood education that can often intimidate parents. In simple words, research suggests that babies have a huge capacity to learn through all the senses. The more stimulation they get through different senses, the better their brain develops. This capacity to learn starts to slow down around the age of four.
“Babies can add before they can count. They can understand a hundred words before they can speak. And at three months, their power of memory is far greater than we ever imagined.”
There are five reasons why good schooling alone is not enough for a child’s total development:
Kindergarten is too late!
- At eight months, a baby’s brain has a thousand trillion nerve connections. By the age of 10, that number reduces to just 500 trillion, or even less.
- Early experiences impact the reduction in nerve connections.
- Our brain operates on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.
“From birth to four months, babies are universal linguists. And they’re capable of distinguishing each of the 150 sounds that make up all the languages in the world!”
Babies Are Smarter Than You Think – LIFE magazine
“The power to learn language is so great in young children that they can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear regularly!”
Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics, UCLA
- 1st stage is birth to 4 years: 50% of the ability to learn is developed during this time!
- 2nd stage is 4 to 8 years: Another 30% is developed during this time.
- 3rd stage is 8 to 18 years: Only 20% is developed during this time.
- Everything we learn later grows from the patterns established during these years.
Reading habits are important!
Eight benefits of reading to your child:
- Is an integral part of teaching them how to read
- Makes it easier for them to develop speech and language
- Teaches them new vocabulary and pronunciation
- Builds their listening skills and increases their attention span
- Stimulates their imagination and fosters curiosity
- Develops their ability to express themselves more clearly and confidently
- Is a great way to prepare them for the school environment
- Is a wonderful bonding experience that nourishes emotional development
What parents can do:
“The most important thing that parents can do is talk and read to their children. During the toddler and preschool years, it is critical to provide children with different language and reading experiences.”
Dr. Reid Lyon, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Playtime can be learning time!
- If your child starts kindergarten at the age of four, they would have spent 17,500 waking hours at home, with you, already.
[4 years x 365 days x 12 hours = 17,520]
- When she starts school, she will still spend about five months of a year at home.
- On average, each child gets only 11 minutes of individual attention during a typical day at school.
[40 minutes ÷ 30 children x 8 classes = 10.6 minutes]
Children need a balanced program:
- Physical development and needs are more obvious so usually get enough attention – through proper nutrition, exercise and health care.
- Intellectual development requires more planning and the right environment. Carefully chosen learning materials can transform TV, computer and even playtime into learning opportunities.
- Emotional development is often linked to the time parents spend with their kids. The less time parents have, the better planned it needs to be.
Today’s kids are different!
How are they different?
They’re smarter. “The steady rise in intelligence test scores suggests that kids today are smarter than those of previous generations.”
Sam Goldstein, neuropsychologist from the University of Utah
They can multi-task. “Children’s brains might be changing so they can juggle and concentrate better than their elders.”
Kids today are experiencing more technology than ever. “Clinical research shows that our children’s brains are quickly adapting to accommodate all the new technologies with which they spend so much time.”
Understanding Digital Kids,
Teaching & Learning in the New Digital Landscape by Ian Jukes
What does it all mean?
- Today’s children learn differently; their attention spans are shorter
- Traditional teaching methods may not be as effective
- Learning material must be a lot more interactive to get their attention and hold it
Multi-media learning is essential!
TV is good for kids. “A new study suggests that educational TV programs are successful in broadening children’s knowledge […] and increasing their imagination.”
Pediatrics – Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
“Computers are here to stay, and it is vital that we weave them into the ways we teach and learn.”
Teaching and Learning with Technology: Learning Where to Look by Noah Kravitz
“Unlike most adults, children are not intimidated by technology. Some children learn best to read from typing words. Still others learn quickly from hearing sentences. Adults need to disengage from their fear of technology and instead see it as an enormous tool for learning.”
Stevanne Auerbach, leading child development expert
Competition is increasing every day!
Competition is increasing:
- For admission in good schools and colleges
- For higher studies abroad
- For jobs, and in business, regardless of the chosen field
Key attributes of successful people:
- Job skills – knowledge and skills of the particular field
- Analytical skills – imagination, creative thinking, reasoning, decision-making
- Social skills – interacting, communicating, managing and motivating others
- Personal attitudes – discipline, willpower, ambition, optimism
- Values – integrity, honesty, respect, tolerance, empathy
Most of these skills and values are not formally taught in schools and colleges. Children learn most of these at home.