How early is too early to start preparing your child for school? The answer: it’s never too early to start educating your child. During the early stages of life, from birth up to the age of six, a child experiences astonishing growth. Brain development and change is more rapid during this period than at any other stage of life. Research shows that human brain development during the initial years of life is critical to a child’s future learning capacity. There are many positive ways to impact early learning.
Creating a solid foundation for learning within an encouraging environment will help your son to learn, grow and interact with the world. Between the age 12 to 24 months, your child will learn to control and respond to emotions and understand patterns, numbers and symbols. By the age of three, social and communication skills begin to emerge. From around the age of four, your son will start to comprehend the world as a whole.
As a parent, you will naturally be your child’s very first teacher, guiding him to learn to walk, talk and play. Here’s how you can help prepare your son for future learning:
1. Avoid over-stimulation
A common myth surrounding early childhood development is that parents need to expose their children to stimulating and enriching activities to accelerate a child’s ability to learn and grow. A child’s brain develops in stages from birth to adolescence. Both internal and external experiences during the first few years of life create the foundation and structure of the neural pathways of the brain. However, research shows that a child’s brain has its own biological and neurological timeframe and so excess stimulation is unnecessary.
Key pillars that will help your child to learn and grow include:
- positive reinforcement and encouragement
- interactive activities that stimulate your child’s curiosity, and
2. Establish a reading routine from birth
Implementing a daily reading routine from birth is important for child development. Reading creates familiarity and connection with literacy, images and stories and encourages the thinking process. It also provides you and your child with quality time together – an opportunity to explore and reflect on the world together.
Literature is a profound catalyst for discussion. Even if your child can’t speak yet, it’s important that you talk to him so that he learns how to communicate and think. At the age of two, a child understands between 200 and 300 words. This exceeds to 1,000 over the next 12 months. Reading and discussion about books will only serve to enhance vocabulary and promotes inquiry-based thinking and establishes healthy patterns for learning.
Living in a digital world, it’s also important to consider the platform for reading. Although ebooks have emerged as a popular reading choice in recent years, research suggests that reading traditional hard copy books can enhance parent-child interaction and promote inquiry and discussion.
3. Create opportunities for structured and unstructured play
Encouraging children to play is an important pillar for cognitive growth and enhances their capacity to process information and learn. Evidence shows that not only does play stimulate problem-solving, creativity and language development, it also helps kids to focus.
Puzzles and craft activities are great ways to help your child develop cognitive learning and a natural willingness and curiosity to understand the world.
Physical activities in a safe environment such as role-play, sports and dance will help your child to develop motor skills which strengthen the brain’s neurotransmitters and improve concentration and self-esteem.
4. Look for learning opportunities in the natural world
The natural world can be thought of as our biggest classroom. There is so much to be learned from our environment. Therefore, encouraging your son to ask questions about his surroundings is a great way to prepare him for the classroom. Being in nature stimulates curiosity and learning. Counting colours in the park, collecting shells at the beach, painting pebbles and building sandcastles are great examples of how play and creativity can occur naturally.
Encourage your son to investigate, understand and, most importantly, have fun in nature. Nature can inspire creativity, develop cognitive motor skills and encourage children to actively seek information. Nature also provides opportunities to practise mindfulness (to be present in the moment), which can improve learning outcomes and promote the capacity to gather information and knowledge.
At Trinity Grammar School, we recognise that a great start to a boy’s learning journey can make all the difference to his academic success. Pre-Kindergarten at Trinity is a specialised option for boys who may not be quite ready for Kindergarten.
Our well-structured Pre-Kindergarten programme will encourage your son to engage in a variety of developmentally appropriate learning experiences that nurture his curiosity and sense of wonder, and challenge his thinking – making for a smooth transition to Kindergarten.
To learn why Pre-Kindergarten at Trinity Grammar School provides the best preparation for school, download our Pre-Kindergarten prospectus.