Begin supporting Lifelong Learning from the very beginning
From The Learning Child set of talks and materials
So, what is the truth about supporting lifelong learning from the very beginning? Actually, it starts long before you might think! Since before they were born, very real learning has been going on in the mind and body of your infant. As they take every opportunity to understand how this complex and fascinating world works.
Through every learning opportunity, your child is embedding their future processes of development. Informing their expectations and perceptions of the world. They are even underpinning the stability of their mental health and well-being.
How children react to influences, empathise with others or form meaningful relationships. All taking affect from the very beginning.
The empathy and love that surrounds them are informing and structuring these developments. As well as any levels of stress you expose them to. Especially if this is a common experience. All of which is helping your child learn to regulate their emotions. And structuring their future behaviours.
Through every experience you offer, you are beginning to affect a lifetime of learning in your child. And making a staggering difference to their future outcomes. With every early experience impacting their learning potential.
Supporting lifelong learning from the very beginning begins long before birth
When we smile into the face of a young baby, it is all too easy to be captivated by the newness. Assuming that this pre-verbal, pre-mobile dependent, is not doing much of any lasting value. But we would be wrong to underestimate the immense rate of rapid development that is going on. Every moment of these extremely sensitive first years is having a massive impact on their future growth. And their responses to future learning opportunities.
As well as their health and well-being, these experiences are already determining their success at school. The experiences you are offering are affecting their future life trajectories more profoundly than 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.
These experiences are highly reliant on the actions and environments your baby is exposed to. They are also sensitive to how you respond to your child as you develop their mental pathways. And give them the experiences they will use to inform all their future responses. Developing their lifelong learning from the very beginning, through every experience and interaction.
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. Developing their social skills. And when these are reciprocated with warmth and openness, know you are developing their understanding of communication and emotion. And all of this is happening long before they have the words to express themselves.
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.
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