There is a burgeoning over-emphasis on learning academics at the youngest of ages. Both parents and preschools accept the myth of academic success begins with early learning (perhaps a recent memory of parents who may still be paying off student loans)
But what do very young children really need to learn? Neuroscience gives us answers. Self regulation, socialization, empathy, creative play and curiosity about the world are important underpinnings to future learning. Numbers and letters are largely irrelevant factors to success in academics according to most early childhood research. The brain develops first through exploration of the sensory world. Touching, feeling, moving are primary modes of learning. Language development happens most rigorously through self experience, talking about what the small child is experiencing, seeing, feeling. This is done largely though play. “Play,” noted Jean Piaget, the seminal early childhood expert, “is child’s work.”
Armed with a solid sense of self, social interest, self regulation, creative curiosity, and a zest for learning about the world are the tools that best equip a small child to move forward successfully in the elementary school world.
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