We’ve heard it time and time again: the children are our future. While every generation may have their own opinions about how the generations that came before them or those that followed just didn’t quite get it right, it would behoove us as a civilization to take part in the shaping and molding of other generations rather than the judgement of them. There is a certainly a beauty in the fact that a child’s mind is a blank slate, and it is up to the parents and educators to fill that slate with the most important information, and in the best manner possible, which of course could be different for every single child.
It takes a village
Not only is it up to the parents and teachers of young ones to give them the best early education possible, the opportunity to help shape the children’s learning also falls on any other adults in the children’s lives as well. In the stages of early learning, children soak up as much new information as they encounter, so it is crucial to have them surrounded with positive information and ways in which to learn it. And plopping young kids in front of a TV or computer or iPad is not the answer. Sure, screens — particularly interactive ones — will keep children entertained for hours, thus freeing up time to get your own things done, but excessive screen time will only be to the child’s detriment. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two years old should not have any screen time at all.
The earlier the better!
Many early learning programs have developed over the recent years to be more in depth and more inclusive of younger and younger ages. There’s no denying that childhood education has definitely shifted over the years. According to findings made by the National Institute for Early Education Research, over 75% of four year-olds and over 40% of three year olds were enrolled to attend preschool in 2005. And it makes sense. Children’s vocabulary grows in size from around 900 words to often more than 2,500 words between the ages of three and five. During that time, the child’s sentences expand in length and complexity. It is a good time to start with early learning programs.
Letting kids be kids
It is certainly important for children to begin learning, processing, and developing as soon as possible. The faster they can express themselves, and learn to develop their own thoughts and ideas and imaginations, the better. However that is not to say that early schooling should infringe upon the development that children go through simply being themselves. At an elementary school in Idaho, children were given more recess, and their overall test scores went up! Children do need instruction, but their young sponge-like minds need to explore and imagine and play, in order for the best development to occur.
Let the children play. Consider slashing screen time. And enjoy the miracle of a blank slate filling in such a uniquely beautiful way that no other mind has done in quite the same way.