Early childhood isn’t something that begins and ends at an exact age. Much like the preschool programs that little kids attend, early childhood is a journey that spans each child’s first few years of life. But it does have stages, which is why understanding early-childhood development can help you become a better parent.
This usually starts well before your kids enter school, with nurturing their development through engaging playtime activities. It continues during their school years when children are exposed to social skills and academics. And it ends when the kids prepare for elementary school.
While the specifics for these stages may vary from child to child, there are some universal ways parents can support their kids’ development at every stage of their early childhood. Here are five:
1. Teach Them the Importance of Playtime with Other Kids
As children’s curiosity and desire to learn new things increases, they also become more interested in interacting with others. This is the right time to encourage them to attend after-school activities where they can interact with peers and hone their social skills.
Furthermore, you can also enroll them in activities that will allow children to spend time with others of the same age. Your children will not only learn how to socialize, but they’ll also explore new concepts through activities led by professionals.
That’s why playtime is such a critical stage for young children. This allows kids to explore their creativity and hone their problem-solving skills because they’ll be interacting with other kids during this time. Plus, it will give your kids their first taste of teamwork.
2. Be Involved in Programs for Their Development
Children are not born with an innate knowledge of what they should learn at every stage of their development. They also can’t tell their parents what skills they need to work on at home, either.
So parents need to be involved in their children’s development, especially when it comes to finding programs and activities that will help them nurture the skills they’ll need. This way, parents can make sure that their kids are learning the skills they need to succeed in school.
You can do this by attending workshops or seminars that talk about the importance of early childhood development. By doing so, you’ll be able to learn the skills they should acquire at each stage and how you can support them in their efforts.
3. Encourage Early Learning While Limiting Screen Time
Parents could encourage their child’s early learning and development by exposing them to educational toys and activities. You can do this by buying toys specially designed to help them practice various skills or learn numbers and colors.
On the other hand, many parents tend to equate learning with screen time because it’s convenient and kids enjoy watching TV shows or playing games on tablets. However, you should limit screen time because it could harm your child’s learning process instead of improving their skills.
If left unaddressed, this can lead to developmental delays and your child may even struggle in school. So make it a point to lessen their screen time because research shows that kids may develop learning issues from spending too much time in front of a screen.
4. Provide Children with Healthy Meals and Snacks
Food plays a vital role in children’s development. If a child is malnourished, they will not have the energy to practice their skills and focus on learning. So, you must provide them with nutritious meals and snacks at every stage of their early learning.
For instance, they need to eat food rich in iron to boost their memory and focus better. Meanwhile, they should eat fruits and vegetables because it helps improve their cognitive development. Plus, they need to drink water to stay hydrated and avoid developmental issues related to dehydration.
As far as snacks are concerned, they should be high in energy because children need that burst of energy to keep them energized throughout the day. That’s why you should encourage your kids to eat food such as nuts and dried fruits instead of chips and candy because it will help them concentrate better.
5. Listen to Their Ideas and Widen Their Imagination
Children are creative and imaginative little beings, so they should be encouraged to use these skills for their development. You can do this by giving them toys that help improve their imagination, like playhouses for kids.
Then, listen to your children’s ideas whenever you’re playing with them. This will allow you to widen their imagination even further. By incorporating their input in your playtime activities, you’ll also help improve their social skills and emotional intelligence.
Don’t be the one who does all the talking while they sit back and watch you play. Chances are, if you’re only doing the talking without allowing them to share their ideas, they will feel excluded. So instead of allowing them to be passive observers, actively engage them in your playtime activities whenever it’s possible.
Supporting your kids through their early childhood development can be challenging because there are so many things to do. However, if you arm yourself with the necessary knowledge about their developmental stages and skills your children should acquire at each stage, it will be easier for you to help them grow.