Before starting Learning with Kelsey, I was an elementary school teacher. I started teaching 3rd grade in 2012. I taught 3rd grade for 3 years and then transitioned into teaching kindergarten.
After I had my first son, I wanted to find a way to be at home with him more. So, I started an in-home preschool. So, needless to say, I have worked with children in many different age groups, in varying situations, and with differing backgrounds. The constant, though, that I have seen is just how important these early years of life are.
The First 5 Years Are Critical, but Fun!
Children learn SO much in their first 5 years of life. In fact, research has shown that brain development in the first five years of life is crucial for a child's future learning, behavior, and mental health.
So much so, that it is considered a “critical period” of development. As parents, it's essential to understand the importance of this critical period and how spending time with our children and teaching them can make a positive impact on their brain development.
What exactly happens during those first 5 years that make it so important? Let me share a few facts with you…
The brain is rapidly developing during the first five years of life.
And experiences in the environment can have a significant impact on the formation of neural connections. These early experiences and interactions shape the brain's architecture and lay the foundation for future learning, behavior, and mental health. For example, children exposed to language at a young age have an easier time learning to read and write later on.
The brain's ability to form new connections, known as neuroplasticity, is also greatest during this time period.
This means that children's brains are especially receptive to new information, making it an optimal time for learning and development.
In addition to cognitive development, early brain development is also critical for the development of a child's emotional and social abilities.
Children's emotional and social development are closely linked to their cognitive development, and the way they develop emotional and social skills can have a great impact on their emotional stability, mental health and ability to form relationships in the future.
Ok, so now that we understand exactly what is happening during that period, what can we do to help foster growth and development during these years?
- Take advantage of the neuroplasticity by teaching their children new skills, such as counting, letters, and shapes.
- Use letter hunt activities like this
- Or, work on letter recognition with activities like this or this
- Use this time to build deeper connections with your children as well by spending quality time with them engaging in activities they enjoy.
- Try spending 10-15 minutes a day on learning activities!
In conclusion, spending time with our children and teaching them during the first five years of their life is not just enjoyable, but also essential for their future learning, behavior and mental health. The brain's rapid development during this time period provides a unique opportunity to shape the architecture of the brain, and lay the foundation for the child's future development.