Learning in the Early Years - Providing Experiences To Stimulate Intelligence And Emotional Growth In Young Children.
The human brain develops more rapidly between birth and age five than any other subsequent period in a child’s life. During their early years, children are exposed to a range of learning experiences that impact their learning and development but all experiences are not equal in building a child’s brain. Brain development research has led to an increased understanding of the conditions that are best suited to stimulating and nurturing a child’s intellectual and emotional development.
Learning environments should invite the child into them, cultivate their curiosity and fascinate their imaginations. Young children do not need hours of flash-cards, learning letters of the alphabet by rote or computer-based educational games. Children need objects that they can actively explore through poking and prodding, smelling and gazing at, twisting and turning. Such objects are open-ended materials that generate wonder, unlock imaginations and allow children to transform simple objects into creations and inventions.
Natural resources such as pebbles, leaves, wood, gravel, glass beads, seed pods and shells entice children to use their senses to explore and their brains to create. Many of the commercial toys we offer children have only one purpose, yet objects from nature can provide interesting collections for children to classify, measure, make patterns with and build worlds.
Young children are strong, confident and competent. They have their own ideas, express their opinions, make independent choices and are able to play and work well with others. They constantly remind the adults around them of their abilities and determination, through their firm declarations of “I do it!” and their persistence to complete tasks independently.
For their brain to grow and develop children must be able to experience things for themselves and feel the sense of accomplishment that happens when they complete tasks independently. To support this, adults need to allow time for children to try and retry things over and over again. In this way, the brain is reassured that what is learned is true.
In an early education program, children will develop best if they have opportunities to use their wonderful ideas, express their opinions and interact with others and their environment.
Children are naturally curious and hardwired to make sense of their surroundings. Through play and interaction with their environment, children explore, gain knowledge about their world and relate their new discoveries back to existing understandings. In this way children build knowledge, store new information and make sense of their physical and social world. The job of parents is to be there to acknowledge, help and encourage children when things get overwhelming and encourage them to keep trying.
Early Childhood Educator
Canadian International School