I was recently approached about having a guest post here on Hanging with Dad regarding childhood education. Fortunately for them we just had a meeting at Isaac’s Parent’s Day Out that was all about what to expect when our kids go to kindergarten, so education was kind of on my mind. So I said “send it on over and we’ll see”. Well, they sent it over and it fits in with a lot of what I’ve heard/read and I wanted to share it here with you today.
by Laurie Rappeport
Neuroscience research in early childhood development and education has established that approximately 80 percent of brain development is complete by the time a child turns five. Maximum growth occurs during the first three years so it’s clear that the environment and experiences of a child’s formative years set the stage for his future growth and development. For parents, this means that a home environment in which a child has access to varied experiences, positive role models, a wide range of interactions with other children and adults and many different types of materials will create a positive foundation to ensure that the child will gain as much as possible from his later education.
- Age 0 – 12 months — During the first part of the sensory-motor stage infants acquire knowledge through sensory experiences and by manipulating objects. This is the age when parents should be giving their children objects that the child can grasp in her hand, objects of varied colors, shapes and sounds and objects that move in different ways. Babies learn by using all of their senses, including taste, which is why young babies try to put everything in their mouths. A parent shouldn’t discourage this type of learning but must make sure that all toys are clean and don’t include any parts that can break off in a baby’s mouth.
- By nine months of age a child has begun to learn the idea of “permanence.” This is one of the reasons that babies are always throwing things off their high chairs and then searching for the object…they are beginning to grasp the concept of permanence. Playing peek-a-book is an important activity for the months preceding and following the child’s comprehension of this concept.
- Age 12 months to 2 years — This is the second part of the sensory-motor stage. This is the age in which toddlers are beginning to use language so, in addition to the sensory-motor materials, parents should start incorporating more language development activities into the child’s day. These kinds of activities can involve singing and plenty of talking but by this age the parents can begin to introduce books into the child’s life. Parents can sit down with the child two or three times each day to read a simple book and ask the child to point out different objects that he sees.
- Age 2 years to 4 years — Piaget called this age the beginning of the pre-operational stage. During this stage (which can extend to age 6 or 7) children learn through pretend play. This is the age at which dramatic play toys are appropriate stimuli — dolls, cars, building blocks, legos, dress-up clothes, supermarket items, etc. Language-wise, reading time should be increased and the books should be a bit more sophisticated — with storylines and plots. Parents can involve the child in the book by asking the child to name the colors of different objects, count objects and even, by age 3, to retell the story in the child’s own words and predict coming events.