preparing for school

Key experiences your child needs to do well at school

During the years prior to starting school, your child will undergo a fantastic transformation from the baby they were just a few years ago. As well as dramatic physical growth, they have formed more than 200 trillion brain cell connections or synapses, mapping out the structure and workings of their developing brain.

Forming around 80 per cent of their basic brain architecture, these social and emotional structures are now established for life. Dependent on every experience and opportunity that they have been afforded. Readying them to respond to all the experiences they have to come, in highly personal ways.

Everything from a bone in the leg, to muscles in the eye and hormone receptors in the brain are adapting from the experiences your child is offered

  • The attachments they are making are informing every future relationship
  • The language surrounding them is fine tuning their ability to hear the speech patterns required to talk, engage and voice an opinion
  • Every stimulation of their body and mind is developing them physically, mentally and emotionally

This is a highly sensitive period of incredible growth and development. And with the relationship you have established with your child, you are in a perfect position to nurture the qualities they need to do well once they pass through those school gates.

How can you offer your child the key experiences they need to do well at school?

Firstly, encourage open conversations as you help them find their motivations and establish a belief in themselves. All of which is essential to their mental and physical health, as well as their future learning and educational attainment.

Second, help them realise their power to set and achieve their own goals. If we surround our children with rules and expectations, with little or no power to influence events within their lives they are unlikely to set their own goals. Or attempt to achieve them, becoming content with conforming within the life they are given.

And thirdly, offer your child challenges that match their abilities, and experiences that match their interests. You will know when you have succeeded when they lose themselves, engrossed in an activity. If you are struggling – talk together about what this might mean for them.

And lastly, find ways to provide your child with creative environments where they can experience things in real terms, as they practice and support the abstract concepts they are learning about.

How amazing would it be if your child retained the level of motivation and eagerness to learn they had when learning to walk?

When you think back to the deep engagement you saw in your child when they were learning to walk, or their fascination with cause and effect as they marvelled at the impact of repeatedly splashing in a puddle, you will remember their motivation when nothing could stand in their way.

So, let your child direct their own learning, exploring what interests them and in the ways they want to, playing with the experiences that they need.

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.


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