One of the first important decisions you may make as a parent is deciding when to enrol your child in an early education program, and consider your childcare options.
A group learning environment can be a great opportunity for your child to become more independent, bond with new people, communicate and have varied new experiences. The decision relates to your family needs, requirements, and your preferences and beliefs as a parent or caregiver.
“I believe that all three or four-year-olds should have the opportunity and advantages of attending preschool,” says Anna Jane Hays, a child development expert and author of Ready, Set, Preschool! and Kindergarten Countdown. “It’s just too valuable of a beginning, now that we know children are capable of learning at such an early age. The consensus is ‘the sooner, the better’ in regard to a structured opportunity for learning.”
It is important to remember that the formation of new neurons and synapses is fastest at birth and slows down as we grow older. This is why young children learn so quickly as compared to adults.
Your child is producing many more synapses than they need, all of them will not make it to adulthood. Brain development is influenced by external things, positive experiences as well as traumatic ones. A child’s environment molds the brain and helps it decide which brain pathways to keep and which to erase. The more often a synapse is used, meaning something is practiced or heard, the stronger that synapse gets. Repetition is key in language acquisition and gross motor skills development. Practice builds roots and things that are neglected disappear. This process happens in all brains, but slows as we age.
Neurons communicate with each other through synapses. Neurons are what people refer to when they say brain cells. Your brain is primarily made up of neurons. Messages and signals are passed to and from the brain through synapses.
The most important things to support a developing brain is to offer an enriched environment, explore the senses, and provide multiple experiences. The key components to healthy brain growth is nutrition, social interaction, and physical activity. Interacting with different people offers opportunities to build communication skills and builds empathy and self awareness. Physical activity improves overall wellness, health as well as improved brain function.
Research shows a consistent relationship between early childhood education and improved cognitive skills, lowered risks of development delays and increased school readiness. There is strong evidence of long term positive outcomes to quality early childhood education programs.
It is important to be aware of how receptive the brain is to learn in the early years. Being informed is the best way to make a decision regarding programs, caregivers and environments to choose to introduce your child to.