Research tells us that a staggering 85% of children’s core brain structures are developed by the age of five. This means that primary carers and home environments hold substantial influence.Children are curious by nature; innately drawn to explore and wonder, and motivated to learn about the world they live in. So, lets capitalize on their curiosities throughout everyday happenings and inject teachable moments to have huge impact.
Here are five ways on how.
1. Let’s start with the barrage of questions we as parents get asked by our children every day. If its not ‘but why?’ on repeat, its needing to know about anything and everything that is happening around them. Some studies suggest that children ask over 20 questions in an hour! As frustrating and overwhelming this can be, be encouraged to take the time to respond to their genuine curiosities authentically.
Why? Because it’s their way of building upon their current knowledge to make new understandings and, the more questions asked and answered, the better and more comprehensive their subsequent questions will become.
2. Look for organic opportunities that arise during home routines to share knowledge with your child. Think assisting with doing the grocery shopping and writing on birthday cards, just to name a few. Yes, it takes additional time and patience, however there is great power in learning with real examples, in context and where they can see the outcomes achieved from their input.
3. Read books together. Research tells us that reading five books a day to children will expose them to over one million words by the time they enter formal schooling. By simply hearing and being exposed to copious amounts of words sets a strong vocabulary foundation and familiarity with how language works. Five books may seem a lot to aim for, however consider listening to audio books in the car or bath, taking books for appointment waiting rooms or even setting cushions up outside to read in the sun.
4. Vary vocabulary choices during conversations. It’s surprising how quickly children absorb new words and start to use them correctly by simply hearing them. From experience, hearing a three year old’s reply of “yes, I’m ravenous!” when asked about wanting something to eat is proof how simple yet effective this strategy can be. Further examples could include switching the word happy to cheerful or sad to miserable.
5. Incorporate songs and nursery rhymes. This could simply be while tidying up the toy room, preparing morning tea or going for a walk. Key literacy skills promoted through hearing and joining in with songs include sound development and pronunciation, introduction to rhythmic patterns and repetitiveness of phrases, inferencing and comprehension.
Did you notice that none of the above require formal play invitations with specific, assigned outcomes? It's all about finding moments throughout each day to impart knowledge and learning with our children in an organic way. The magnitude of our impact in the first five years is beyond doubt. Let's use it!
Stay tuned for my next blog that delves into early literacy skills that set children up for success… all before introducing the alphabet.