School –what that usually means revolves around the 3Rs: “Readin’ and ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic”
When it comes to young children and their early education though, the 3Rs don’t apply.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents, as their children’s first—and most important teachers—to follow the 5Rs of early childhood education.
- READ—set aside time to read together, every day, with your child. Reading with your child supports their cognitive development; it exposes them to language while building their listening and memory skills
- RHYME, play/rough house and cuddle with your child every day. Rhymes are fun to sing or recite because they make use of silly situations and/or make use of playful words. PLAY is critical to a child’s overall health and wellbeing. It is so important for a child, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty, stated it is a child’s right to be able to PLAY—every day. PLAY in all its forms is good for children. Rough housing is classic Dad play. Read why rough housing is beneficial for children. Cuddling can be viewed as another form of physical play. It is good not only for your child’s emotional development, but I can guarantee you’ll look back on the times you snuggled up with your kiddo, wonder where the time went and long for those days…it does everyone’s heart good—now AND later!
- ROUTINES give your child a framework of stability where they can count on predictability. It should be developed particularly around meals, sleep and, my favorite, family fun!
- REWARD your child with words of encouragement to continued trying and acknowledgment for successes to build self-esteem and promote positive behavior. Avoid empty praise as children, quickly, see through that and will come to disregard or view with skepticism all comments. Be authentic, be truthful, but be kind and compassionate.
- RELATIONSHIPS are key to all human interactions…especially parent-child interactions. Your goal is to develop a strong and nurturing relationship with your child as it will serve as the foundation for your relationship; their healthy development; AND their future relationships.
How do you create a strong and nurturing relationship?
•Spend TIME with your child
•OBSERVE and/or LISTEN to what is going on in their lives
•Let them know you LOVE them UNCONDITIONALLY—you love them just as they are
•CREATE memories by DOING things together
If your kidlet has graduated from their home facility and enrolled in a preschool or kindergarten, these 5Rs still apply! Parents are their child’s advocates and, as such, may need to supplement with developmentally appropriate activities at home; role-play to give your kiddo practice in making new friends; or help structure a framework your kiddo understands that brings a sense consistency and dependability to their lives.
The years between 0-5 are fundamentally important years for children’s education. They lay the groundwork for a foundation—a foundation rooted in concrete materials and hands-on, real-life experiences. A foundation that will support building and adding on, capable of utilization, modification and expansion—moving to abstract thought.
As Bill Gates, Sr said:
——“The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out.”
Which of the 5Rs is the most challenging for your family?
I’m reminded pretty much daily how fast time really does pass—it might not feel that way when you’re in the thick of things:
•Getting up in the middle of the night to feed or try to put a baby back to sleep;
•Wondering how you’re going to get to your child’s school for that class presentation when you have a presentation of your own to do at work; or
•Juggling multiple, after-school activities trying to arrange carpools and making sure one parent shows up for at least one activity/child/week
But, believe me, before you know it the kids are grown. IMHO, I think we, as a society, need to do a better job supporting our families, parents, and children…giving everyone a better chance to relish their moments together just a little bit more; to re-live and savor the sweetness…
Yours in PLAY!
Taylor Bishop says
I appreciate that you mentioned that its’ important for a parent to make sure that they have a good, nurturing relationship with their child, especially since it’s important for a healthy development. It could be beneficial to learn about how this impacts a child compared to those that done have it. Understanding the importance of it could be a good motivator to make sure that it’s done right.
Karen Whittier says
Thank you Taylor for recognizing the importance of the parent-child relationship in the child’s development. The National Institutes of Health have noted medical and educational research citing mental growth…in other words, the development of intelligence, personality, and social behavior, occurs most rapidly during a child’s earliest years (0-3) and, because of that, children are at heightened risk to the adverse effects of environmental toxins plus other negative factors such as chronic malnutrition and lack of developmental stimulation which could lead to neurological and behavioral disorders such as learning disabilities and mental retardation as they grow and mature. Hopefully, this extra bit of information provides others with additional motivation to focus on the 5Rs!