Recent research on the brain has revealed that the first three years of a child's life are the most important for their development. As parents, we strive to do everything we can to ensure our children have the best start in life. We read books, research topics, provide social interaction, and ask questions to ensure our child development is on track. One of the most important aspects of parenting is understanding the physical and cognitive development of our child.
Although no two children develop exactly on the same timeline, there are certain sensitive periods when major developmental milestones are reached. The most critical stage of development and learning is from birth to five years old. During this time, children's brains develop in bursts called critical periods. The first occurs around the age of two and the second occurs during adolescence.
At the beginning of these periods, the number of connections (synapses) between brain cells (neurons) doubles. This means that two-year-olds have twice as many synapses as adults, allowing them to learn faster than at any other time in life. Children reach milestones in the way they play, learn, talk, behave, and move (such as crawling, walking, or jumping). Playing is an important part of learning for children as it gives them the opportunity to explore, observe, experiment, and solve problems.
Parents should provide support and encouragement while also allowing their child to try things for themselves and make mistakes. Discovering how the world works is an essential part of a child's learning. At every stage of development, children need love and understanding from their parents. The first five years are especially crucial for their physical, intellectual and socio-emotional development.
An important factor in selecting a child development program at this stage is understanding your child's personality and skills. Preschool is a great place for children to build the connections needed for healthy development and a successful future. Preschool education provides an opportunity to foster child development during these important critical years. It also helps children learn how to label their emotions (“I feel sad”) and tell stories about what made them feel that way (“I feel sad because I wanted ice cream and you said no”).
The government provides information from various agencies on how children, parents, educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying. The Department of Agriculture also provides information on health and nutrition for children over five years old. CDC Information for Parents (Ages 4-11) has information to help guide your child to a healthier life. CDC Youth Physical Activity Guidelines contains information on how to help children stay active and play.
Parents, grandparents, early childhood care providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring which watches how their child grows and changes over time and if they meet typical developmental milestones by playing, learning, talking, behaving, and moving. The first five years of a child's life are the most important stages of child development. It is during this time that parents should focus on providing love and understanding while also allowing their child to explore their environment and make mistakes. Preschool education provides a great opportunity to foster child development during these critical years.