Things You Wish You Did In the First Five Years of Your Child’s Life
They said it takes a village to raise a child. True enough, there are a hundred different things that you should learn to do all at once when you become a parent. Parenting is both simple and complex, but for a first-time parent, parenting is much more complex because of all the “firsts” that you have to learn ASAP.
On the other hand, parenting is also an exciting journey. You get to experience being in someone’s world and nurture the human being that you brought into the world. As your precious child grows, you discover many things that make parenting even more exciting. In fact, you’ll also learn that parenting has some science to it. A child’s brain develops differently than an adult’s, especially in their first five years of life.
When a baby is born, he’ll have millions of neurons that he’ll have for the rest of his life. But, it’s the connections between these brain cells that actually make the brain work! The connections in your brain are what enable you to think, move, remember, feel, communicate and do just about anything. Something really special happens in the first five years of life, in these five years the brain develops by 90%. During this growing phase, a million new synapses are made every second, this is the fastest growth rate in their whole lifetime!
How the brain grows in the first five years of life is amazing. The child’s brain is like a sponge that absorbs as much information as it can. During this stage, they also develop their language, character, and behaviour. The early years are the “sensitive periods” during a child’s development when the wiring of the brain for specific abilities is established (Couperus & Nelson, 2006). What you do in these five years is very important, you just can’t miss the chance to get the most out of these growing years. As a parent, you want to equip your child with all that they need to get them ready for the big life ahead of them.
So what do you do to make the most in your child’s first five years?
Things You Wish You Did In the First Five Years: Literacy and Reading
Early childhood experiences lay the groundwork for a child’s future development, giving them a solid basis for lifelong learning and learning skills, including cognitive and social growth. The parent’s participation during the child’s early years greatly impacts the outcome of their lives. As a parent, you only want to give them the best life and secure a great future for them. What you do in their first five years of life greatly impacts how well they do in school and in their adult years.
The sooner you start the child in his literacy journey, the more equipped he is for the school life ahead of him. One of the first things that you can do with your growing child is share a book with them. Babies might not appreciate it right away, but as the child grows, he gets accustomed to the habit of holding and book and flipping its pages!
Reading is such an important part of their literacy journey. In fact, it’s the core of their literacy because most of the things they learn, they learn from books. Spending atleast 10 minutes with your child to read makes a lasting impact on them. When done every day, it becomes a habit that they will live on for the rest of their lives. You want your child to build a reading habit early because it is the foundation of their education. A child reader develops better comprehension and is a better critical thinker than a non-reader child.
Another advantage of reading is that it gives you an opportunity to bond with your child. When you spend time reading with your child, you subconsciously build a solid relationship through communication. It does not only affect your relationship with your child, but it also helps develop the child’s language and speech!
One amazing discovery from childhood research shows that children are actually developing their own intuitive map of mental processes (Baillargeon et al., 2010; Saxe, 2013; Wellman and Woolley, 1990). And the only way to get them more knowledge is to get them to read! It’s another reason why you should not miss the chance to get your child into reading while they are young!
Babies like picture books, a book that is colourful where they can flip the pages and scan for pictures that might interest them. Getting a personalised book is ideal because it actually has personal relevance to the child. In fact, you can even design how the character would look in the personalised book, the child’s name is featured as the hero of the story!
A study by the National Literacy Trust shows that books with personalised elements are more engaging to the kids. “Text ownership, using metaphors, both literally and figuratively, is an important step in the process of identifying as a reader (Dymore and Griffiths, 2010). Moreover, when the child sees themselves in a printed book, they have this idea that they are welcomed in the written world (Williams, 2014).
As a parent, you play an important role to ensure that your child gets the best early years. The thing that you should not miss in their first five years is to actually get them into the habit of reading. Start by reading with them for atleast 10 minutes a day, through this, you are building their language while you make precious memories that positively affect how they feel about reading.