The Fundamentals of Early Learning
There are a few fundamentals to remember when teaching babies, and most of them you already know in your heart as a parent. But first, it’s important to start from this premise:
If intelligence is the ability to learn, then babies are born geniuses!
While a baby’s brain has the potential to learn just about anything, parents have an important role to play in determining just how much – and how easily – their baby learns.
Here, we discuss the key issues to bear in mind when teaching your baby.
A unique window of opportunity:
5 months’ gestation to 5 years of age
The younger the brain, the more malleable it is – that’s why young children are like sponges. A baby’s brain builds itself by forming connections in response to the stimulation it receives. The fetus begins responding to sound during month five in the womb, when her sense of hearing becomes fully developed. This means that learning begins before birth.
After birth, the baby’s brain continues wiring itself in response to the child’s experiences of the world. Learning is faster and more effortless than it will ever be again. Acquiring our native language from birth guarantees that we will master that language, regardless of how linguistically gifted we turn out to be as adults. It’s all about harnessing the power of a baby’s brain. Likewise, anyone can master the skills of reading, math or music, so long as they begin learning at a young enough age.
Babies LOVE to learn!
A baby’s brain is hardwired for learning, making babies the most avid students in the world. What’s more, babies and small children carry none of the baggage that comes from being sent to school and being subjected to quizzes, tests and examinations. For babies, learning is pure enjoyment.
Teaching should never be forced
Regular practice is important, but not to the point of forcing. Above all, your child should enjoy the learning process. Hold lessons only when he is receptive, and end them before he loses interest.
Play is ESSENTIAL
Babies and children need time to explore the world around them, pick up objects and examine them, and get to grips with the laws of nature. Your baby should spend the majority of her waking hours engaged in hands-on play.
Relax and have FUN
Avoid focusing on having your child achieve specific knowledge goals. Treat lesson time instead as an opportunity for strengthening the parent-child bond. Teaching your baby should never become a source of stress for either one of you. If you feel this is happening, reevaluate your approach or trim down the lesson program as necessary.