how should your child be learning during their pre-school years?

How should your child be learning during their pre-school years?

Learning Fastest… or Learning Deeper?

From The Learning Child set of talks and materials


As you become familiar with how your child is growing and developing, your thoughts may turn to supporting their learning. You may then be questioning how the genetics they were born with is influencing this; or the impact you are having on their environment and the experiences you are offering.  But what and how should your child be learning during their pre-school years?

Is nature or nurture more important?  Are we more influenced by genetic coding, or our experiences and the environment we are born into?

Studies in the past have looked at uncovering the greatest positive impact on children’s education. Mainly by considering how to best accelerate their development.  However, in recent years thinking has shifted. Realising that every aspect of development sees a combination of both nature and nurture. And the realisation that accelerated progress through complex processes that need time to develop is rarely best.

A far more interesting question is; “how can we best offer our children a depth of learning as we ignite passion and interest in the world?”

How impressed would you be if your surgeon proudly turned to you to exclaim how they had whizzed through medical school at twice the usual speed?  Would you not rather they had taken the time needed to do a really thorough job of learning? Perfecting their skills by repeating them over and over until they had a deep understanding of what they were doing?  And still had a passion for and interest in the skills they were about to perform?

Thoughts of children’s learning soon turn to education and methods of teaching within the classroom. 

Unfortunately, the focus of formal education is increasingly long lists of skills and knowledge that children must demonstrate by a particular age.  To fit it all in, choices are made over what is put at the top of those lists. And what is left out. 

Unfortunately, independent exploration and play – even in the very early classrooms – can be left out. Despite play being the deepest form of learning that your child will ever experience. 

But who are we to define what areas of development are more important? What success in the future will look like in this rapidly changing world?  Surely, part of childhood is about finding out who you are. What you can do, and what a successful future means for you. 

Play – especially in their early years – is your child’s most powerful mechanism for understanding the world and everything in it 

We all want our children to be good at reading, writing, and arithmetic. Along with geography, chemistry, physics, and history; believing that skills and knowledge in these areas will lead to academic success and greater choices in the future.

However, without the social skills, motivation, enquiry and curiosity fostered in play we undervalue children’s potential in these areas. And their interest and engagement in learning, at all levels, will decline.  So, as you consider how your child should be learning during their pre-school years, embrace their natural desires to play. And know that this is the best foundation of all future learning that you can offer them.


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

Don’t miss:

Phonic aspirations: should your child read early… or learn to love reading?

Play – the most powerful mechanism for understanding the world

What is the sense of learning – Understanding multisensory learning

Is your child developing a healthy sense of themselves?

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