The Informed Parent
You and your family are your child’s first and best teacher. You understand and know your child better than anyone else.
From conception through the first 5-6 years of life, your child’s growth, development and brain maturation are critical in setting the foundation of lifelong health, learning and well-being. From birth, learning and development at each stage of life lay the building blocks for the next more complex evolving skill. Research tells us that this is when children do their most important learning.
Recognizing that each child develops at his or her own pace, in different ways, at different rates and times this checklist of developmental milestones 0-5 years can guide you monitor your child’s developmental needs and strengths
In recent years disciplines such as psychology, neurology, education, medicine, human development and even economics and policy development have converged to define a “Science of Early Childhood Development”. There has been an explosion of research in neurobiology that explains how interaction between genetics and early experience literally shapes brain architecture.
A basic understanding of early brain development which includes:
- Basic brain growth and sensitive periods in brain development
- How genes and experiences interact and influence development
- How the brain is affected by stress and adversity
What families/parents/caregivers can do to support healthy brain development can be explored here:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S Department of Health and Human Services, USA.Gov
- National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
For your child, this time should be full of play and opportunities to explore the environment in which they grow.
Developmental outcomes for your child during this stage include:
|Having a strong sense of identity||Children build secure relationships with family and other people in their lives and can ask for comfort and help
|Being connected with and contributing to the world||Children explore their world and understand the natural environment
|Having a strong sense of wellbeing||Children are happy physically healthy and confident
|Being a confident and involved learner||Children enjoy learning, are curious, don’t give up easily, are creative and imaginative
|Being an effective communicator||Children interact and communicate with words and gestures, enjoy singing, talking, stories and books
You can support your child’s learning at home by:
- Encouraging them to try new things
- Playing, singing and talking about everything you do together
- Reading to them
- Asking simple questions and encouraging your child ask questions
- Involving your child in everyday activities
- Providing positive and immediate response to all of your child’s activities and communication