Over the past five years I've been working as a professional in early years and have recently decided to take the next step and embark on the early year's teacher training ladder. One of the great things about the course is we can carry out our own research in to any field of early years we like. It's really exciting to know that our studies have the potential to be published change people's views.
Having worked in a nursery for many years I find it fascinating seeing the various rates of development, some children just 'woah' me when they tell me something that is way past their biological age, and others struggle and go at a slower pace. What is it that makes them so different? Is it purely down to attending nursery? Are those full time 3 year olds really pushing the barrier in being ready for school or does it all start from home?
It is clear from the vast amount of research out there, early years can play a key role in children's development, whether it is their performance at school, how they manage stress and anxiety, or how they cope with the relationships around them as they grow older. There are many things parents can do to enhance a child's learning which I will discuss with you in this article.
Seriously, the benefits of that simple night story are amazing. There have been several studies carried out on the effects of reading from a young age, one of which by the National Center For Education revealed levels of maternal education were positively related to the percentage of children who were read to. Reading is a lot more than learning to read the words. Reading can help younger ones with language development, if we are not exposed to certain sounds we won't develop the ability to say them. Books can show a child social rules and manners. How about taking a simple book and looking at it further with your child. Ask them how might that character feel right now? Or question a short part of the book. Through this a child can learn empathy, feelings, along with being imaginative and creative. They may surprise you with how differently they view the book. Not forgetting, give them a chance to read the book aloud too. This will develop their speaking confidence and remember, always give them praise for trying, even if they are struggling. If you child is in school and is struggling with words why not label their toys, food in the cupboards, objects around the home. Consistent exposure to letters and sounds should help.
Somewhere down the line you are going to have to expose your child to potentially 'dangerous' tools and resources, for example, the use of scissors. If a child is shown or taught first eventually they will learn the skill which will lower the potential for harm. A child needs to learn from watching you a few times first, sit with them and let them try it too. Explain the rules of using them and just slowly take a step back. Using scissors correctly may take some time but keep repeating the activity until eventually you should be able to leave them out for them to play with without panic. This applies to other tools children will come across in education, such as sharp pencils and glue for example.
Keep Up To Date With Their World
Source: Marcus Kwan
I'm talking electronics, laptops, iPads, notepads. Ok so I don't agree that some parents feel pressured to buy their child an iPad. But the way teaching and education is going, access to a computer or laptop is extremely beneficial. There are so many fantastic educational websites out there just waiting for them to join in with that can make learning fun. It could be phonics, math's or music, to researching for a small project they have coming up. Many parents are worried of letting their children lose on the internet which is understandable. There are however several precautions you can take to protect your children online, such as setting up parental controls and enabling content filters. The internet should not be a 'dangerous' place but something we should use to its full potential. Even as an older learner myself, during exam time I would watch and learn from teachers on YouTube explaining problem areas. It's certainly something I wish I'd had when I was a child to learn.
Yep, that simple. Talk to them, ask them what are they doing? Why? Challenge their concepts to develop their critical thinking skills. It could be over a book, maybe your child is constructing something, ask them what it is? And how is it going to work? Always praise them for trying and having a go even if they haven't achieved what it was they wanted too. Try to avoid negative speech, for example "Let's walk inside" rather than "No running". And remember to tell your child you love them and you will see them after work (if you are dropping off at school), this could improve their social anxiety and relationships in school leading to more confident and potentially better learners.
I understand in the busy world we live in we can rarely spend one minute relaxing. But taking the time out to spend with your child doesn't have to be something planned in the diary. Let them help you make tea, how about washing up afterwards? Children learn through play, just take it to their level and help them out. Even food shopping, read the signs together, talk about how much things cost, add up, take away numbers, take a calculator and let them practice. Don't forget that night time routine, it's so important to calm them down and let them know it is time for sleep. This can reassure them that you are there, they have structure in their life and are loved, and of course a good night's sleep leads to a better days learning.
This may not sound like a lot, but just having parents who are there for them, talk to them, add routine and structure to their days is extremely beneficial. Don't go mad trying to teach them all the time, let them learn through playing, just be there as someone who can further their play, maybe by showing them a new technique, or questioning them or simply someone who will listen to their ideas. Remember just giving that little bit of extra attention now could really benefit their future as adults.