Since before they were born, very real learning is occurring in the mind and body of your infant as they seek to understand how this complex and fascinating world works.
Processes of development are being embedded through every learning opportunity. Their expectations and perceptions of the world are being informed, underpinning the stability of their mental health and well-being. How they react to external influences, empathise with others or form meaningful relationships is being informed by the empathy and love they are surrounded by. And how well they learn to regulate their emotions is being informed by the levels of stress they are exposed to.
And you are making a staggering difference to this, through every experience you offer as you begin to affect a lifetime of learning.
Even long before birth, your child’s early experiences are impacting their learning potential
When we smile into the face of a young baby, it is all too easy to be captivated by the newness, this pre-verbal, pre-mobile dependent, not seeming to do much of lasting value. But we would be wrong to underestimate the immense rate of rapid development that is going on during every moment of these extremely sensitive first years and the impact all of this is having on their future growth.
As well as their health and well-being, their experiences are already determining their success at school. Their future life trajectories are being affected more profoundly than by any other factor in their lives. And when these experiences are lacking, future opportunities for learning and development become deeply affected.
But rather than reaching for the must-have purchase, understand the difference you make through the powerful experiences you can offer from the very beginning.
Be aware of and tune in with your child’s moods, their physical comfort and their need for responsive attention. Become mindful of their emotional, intellectual and physical needs and the experiences that support them. Understand how the relationships and environments that you offer are fuelling this development.
Because all these experiences are highly reliant on the actions and environments your baby is exposed to. The impact of these experiences and the ways in which your child is being responded to is developing the mental pathways they need to inform all their future responses.
Children experiencing responsive, warm and consistent care, become deeply attached to those giving it
Responding with obvious joy at first seeing you, they will use animated gestures, smiles and facial expressions to connect. When these are reciprocated with warmth and openness you develop their understanding of communication and emotion, long before they have the words to express it.
From the time they are born they are learning from and responding to these quality relationships and the opportunities they are surrounded with. Together with the experiences you offer during these early months, are teaching your child so much about their world and their expectations of it. Deeply linked to developing social skills, motivations and behaviours, as well as their belief in themselves, this is where their foundations of lifelong learning are taking root.
This article is taken from our course: The Learning Child
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL