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IMG_2062Do you think because your child can read and write before before kindergarten he is very smart and ready for the challenges of school? Well think again.

Intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. The most important thing is to love and foster creativity.

For over 10 years I’ve had the privilege to work with children. I’ve seen them grow and develop into very unique and special people. I have witness skills, talents and intelligence taking different forms for every child. I have also learned that you can’t compare children or assume their future academic success based on early childhood behavior. Children evolve and change and the success in life will often depend mostly on the much debated “nurture vs nature” argument.

In the past 10 years parents have assumed a more worried outlook towards the upbringing of their child. I have notice how reading have taken an important role for parents, not only the part where they read to their children but the books on childhood parents often read even before their child is out of the womb. They rely more on research and studies before they follow their parental instinct. I have met parents that start their search for suitable childcare the moment the pee stick shows two lines. The benefits of this new parental move are great, there is less yelling, more talking, less corporal punishment more hugs and kisses and a great fear for their offspring future.

This fear often translate into parents frantically looking for activities that will help contribute to their children development in all areas including, music, arts, sports and even academic instruction. This usually results in children handling crazy schedules, often over booked with activities and some even display early signs of stress all of this under the child turns five.

Is it not all on the parents, they are tricked sometimes by fancy toys, educational baby shows and even baby apps for smart phones that promise to develop the brain of their children and with the continued use of these devices they suggest an cognitive development for their child. I have seen parents instruct their infants on how touch screen works while trying hard to keep that baby from eating the phone. How little some parents understand that the oral stage of a child is more important for brain development than colorful squares on a screen.

This makes me wonder what happens to just let kids be kids. Getting dirty, eating dirt? Running outside with a sheet over their heads because they are super heroes?

I have also noticed how parents nowadays focus greatly on academics, structured curriculum and preschools that resemble big schools for babies. Even when preschools offer great curriculums parents perceptions of preschools come across as little schools that are structured environment that will prepare their child for kindergarten. “Preparing” in the eyes of most parents mean teaching their preschooler letters numbers and eventually how to read write and some math concepts. Children’s minds are very flexible open generously to new concepts, if you teach a child the alphabet every day for a week they will learn it. Same with numbers words and other concepts. This is repetition and it is handled by the part of the brain that exercises memory, so because they can parrot back words, countries or even names of presidents it does not ensure your child any guarantee success at school other than developing a very good memory.

Because all children are different and eventually they will all be taking different paths in life, in my opinion the most important thing you can do is to foster creativity and independent thinking during early childhood.

What does that mean?

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Well for starters reduced the media time; TV, tablets, PC or phone entertain more than anything else. Yes they can learn but not on their own. Media does not allow independent thinking.

Turn the music on. Music in general have been found to contribute the release of endorphins and dopamine two chemicals that reduce stress and create happiness. Classical music has also been known to stimulate the part of the brain that handles math. Use Introduce your children to various sensory stimulation. Let them play in the dirt, mud, sand, rocks, grass, etc. Allow them to finger paint, knead their own play dough, feel bubbles, play with warm water, cool water etc. The more they experience the more connections their brain makes. Music in the background or during nap time.

pic3Introduce your children to various sensory stimulation. Let them play in the dirt, mud, sand, rocks, grass, etc. Allow them to finger paint, knead their own play dough, feel bubbles, play with warm water, cool water etc. The more they experience the more connections their brain makes.

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Let them doodle. When they are very young let them just doodle on the paper as much as they want. For the first couple of years they won’t be able to draw or color a picture but it doesn’t really matter, as long as they can just doodle on the paper children will establish the foundation they need to help them develop a firmer and more accurate penmanship when the time to write comes.

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Give them scissors (children scissors) let them cut paper, magazines, play dough and yes they will probably cut their own hair. At first they will rip the paper then they will use both hands upside down holding the scissors and eventually they will start to cut properly. Experimenting is part of the learning process.

IMG_9733 (Small)Most importantly…Let them play on their own. Let the boys build racetracks, have them align their action figures and talk to each other. Let the girls dress-up, organize tea parties, let their imagination flow. Let them re-arrange furniture, build forts, etc.

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Pretend play and creative play are the two big monsters contribute to developing creative and independent thinking. By just letting them play you are allowing them to discover that there is no better picture, book, movie, or show than their own imagination. The more they think the more they develop their ability to solve problems, create things, analyze situations and ultimately build connections in the brain that no order activity can facilitate.

Introduce your children to various sensory stimulation. Let them play in the dirt, mud, sand, rocks, grass, etc. Allow them to finger paint, knead their own play dough, feel bubbles, play with warm water, cool water etc. The more they experience the more connections their brain makes.

Author:

I’ve had the pleasure to witness dozens of young lives grow and evolve in the past 15 years. The more I work with children the greater is my conviction that young lives are the key to our progress and evolution. Early childhood isn’t a glitch in our lives, it isn’t a bare memory that will fade eventually nor is the equivalent of a 5-year rule that life will start over after kindergarten. Early childhood is the time where brand new minds open up to understand this world. Children are hungry, they are born hungry, from the moment they take their first breath and remain hungry for the next 5 years. Our children are hungry for understanding, knowledge, they are hungry to understand social-emotional situations, themselves and others.

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