What every parent needs to know about the importance of the early years
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Following the Duchess of Cambridge's report last week on the importance of the early years, we asked Lucy Prew, our Head of Curriculum at Maggie & Rose, to explore one of the key issues raised:
"1. People overwhelmingly believe that a child's future is not pre-determined at birth. However, most people don't understand the specific importance of the early years.
98% of people believe nurture is essential to lifelong outcomes, but just one in four recognise the specific importance of the first five years of a child’s life".
So what can we do to help our children in these crucial early years? Lucy explains...
"This week the newspapers have shared the thoughts of the Duchess of Cambridge in respect of how society can support families of young children. The report identifies several points which we, at Maggie & Rose, agree are crucial to a child's early development. We can't over-empahsize the importance of playing with your little ones, especially activities like getting crafty and singing simple nursery rhymes, both of which are great ways to support the development of your child’s brain (as highlighted in the report).
The science behind nursery rhymes and why they are amazing learning tools
Traditionally we have sung nursery rhymes with the tiniest of our little ones. Rhymes from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to ‘Round and Round the Garden’. Children bounce up and down, smile and gaze towards us with excitement and admiration as the repetition of the rhyme brings both comfort and a sense of familiarity which they can easily identify with.
The brain is learning to focus attention and listen, music and rhymes help to form that connection for your child, whilst supporting the development of memory. The first stage of communication is commonly found within a rhyming session as children start to recognise that they can make a vocalised sound or screech, all of which helps them develop a sense of pitch.
Simple nursery rhymes, both with and without actions, ensure tiny brains are processing information and making sense of the meaning of the words you are singing to them. For example by singing ‘round and round’ and making the shape of the foot or the hand, or even circling in the air the symbolism of a round circle, the brain will be processing this and linking the shape to the word. This helps the child to develop an understanding of circular movement and the 2D shape of a Circle, just with the use of the word ‘round’ to put it into context. When we think about the word ‘Twinkle’ which is the focus of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’ the rhyme is helping small children to form an understanding of sleeping, darkness, and night. Little children soon begin to recognise such concepts using the words ‘Twinkle’ or ‘Twinkling’ and, as they themselves develop vocalised speech, they will use the verb as a describing word.
There are lots of short nursery rhymes to introduce your children to, which support them in recognising how they think and feel, linking these things to the real world. I’m a little teapot, Hickory Dickory, Jack and Jill, Ring-a-ring-a-roses, Polly put the kettle on. Tune in to Nursery Rhyme playlist on Youtube, or here on Maggie & Rose Life.
Why crafting builds self esteem and so much more
As your child is growing, their imagination is developing and they are becoming creative, they are internalising what they understand of the world in which they live and are able to externalise this through different arts and crafts. If you can think beyond that frustration as your little one picks up a crayon and starts making marks on your newly painted walls, (or that rustic table you have in the dining room!) then try to remember this is their way of communicating their feelings around what they are visualising.
Did you wonder where the development of ‘self-esteem’ begins? It is simply here with all kinds of ‘Make and Do’ activities at home. The sense of pride that forms from little crafts mean children understand what they have made, recognising it belongs to them. We can never underestimate the sense of importance that children place on the scribble they have put on paper, or the painted cereal carton, and how that supports not only the growth of how they learn, but also supports children with how they feel.
Sharing in simple crafts or singalong activities with your little one not only supports your child’s learning journey and development, it also helps you to nurture your relationship and form reciprocal feelings of pride and the enjoyment of time together.
Wishing everyone a happy together time!