Encouraging young learners

According to a report published last week by leading children's charity Save the Children and the Institute of Child Health at University College London, failure to stimulate toddlers' minds can leave them struggling throughout their school years.

Challenging the belief held by 61% of parents, who think school is the most important learning period for children; neuroscientists and psychologists are warning that failure to properly engage children's brains during their pre-school years will have long term consequences on their cognitive, physical, and emotional development, which could set them back for decades.

Torsten Baldeweg, Professor of Neuroscience and Child Health, from University College London's Institute of Child Health, said: "It is precisely this period [before starting school] where we have explosive brain growth, where most of the connections in the brain are formed. We need input to maintain them for the rest of our lives."

Figures show that almost 130,000 children a year in the UK are falling behind before they even reach school; therefore studies like this are so important to highlight the need for parents and caregivers to be more proactive in encouraging their child's learning and development, early, and provide a home environment to support this.

Toddlers' brains are like sponges, absorbing new information constantly and rapidly; in fact, toddlers' brains form connections at double the rate of adults'. These early years therefore provide a critical opportunity for their young brains to develop key skills, such as language and speech.

Children are naturally inquisitive; whether crawling around the floor or grabbing at items from the kitchen cupboard, they are curious and seek to make sense of their world. As a parent you should nurture this innate behaviour by answering and encouraging their questions, and communicating with them about their surroundings. By responding to their curiosity you will assist them in discovering even more, and help build a strong foundation for life-long learning.

Children also love to learn. You will see a child become frustrated when facing a challenge they can't do, rather than one they can; instead they revel in having mastered a new skill and love showing it off. To enrich this love of learning try to make playtime as productive as possible.

Encourage their speech through song, rhyme and word games to help develop vocabulary and communication skills, and read with your child to build upon their literacy efficiency and listening skills.

Each and every day early learners on the Kumon programmes are engaging with the worksheets, developing their maths and/or English ability and building upon key study skills, like concentration, stamina and pencil control, which are vital for a smooth and successful transition into primary school.

At Kumon we nurture children of all ages and abilities to go on to reach their full potential, and have thousands of early learners excelling with us.

Click here to hear from four-year-old Damilola, and watch this video of three-year-old Amya to see these early learners making outstanding progress.
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