Young children need a stimulating environment or their brains will suffer.
A child's capacity for learning develops from positive emotional, physical and intellectual experiences like a smile, a hug and the pictures in a pop-up book. Their ability to make sense of information is determined from ages zero to five.
Children develop positive attitudes towards learning and a desire to participate in the world during the crucial infant and toddler period. The most important catalysts to learning are uncoached and arise naturally from the parent's unhurried, untroubled, sensitive encounters with their children. The young mind is astonishingly active and self-organizing, creating new knowledge from everyday experiences. Childcare activities help to shape the way children think, learn, and behave for the rest of their lives. If a child's environment is conducive to discovery, new emotions and communication, then the process of learning is naturally enhanced.
What Can Parents Do?
- Pay attention to hearing and language: Repetition forms connections. Talk to the baby so he or she will begin babbling. Name what you are doing, name items, point and show expression on your face.
- Look for teachable moments: Every day offers windows of learning for children. When you are dressing your child, name items and colors, and count. When you are fixing dinner, let toddlers play with plastic dishes. When you can, name things that are the same, different, bigger, smaller, hot, cold. When you drive in the car, point out things like trees, cars, big trucks, and stop signs.
- Use music because it relates to math skills: By exposing children to complex musical sounds (Mozart, not hard rock), children will develop the same area of the brain required for math and spatial reasoning.
- Mirror behaviors you want in children: Children will pick up many behaviors of adults around them. If parent's voices are loud, children may be loud; if parents use soft warm touches, children will learn the same. If children see patience in adults looking for solutions to problems, they will see that learning is a process with many steps.