can i help my child become learning ready?

Recent research suggests that our intelligence is principally inherited from our mothers. I can see many of you nodding in approval! Babies start learning long before they are born. In the womb they begin to hear and learn language from their mothers, laying the foundations for later development of language.

Therefore genetics are not the only determinant in our intelligence, with 40-60% dependent on our environment. The readiness to read, write and learn maths is impacted by the experiences we give our children, as learning involves complex neurological pathways in the brain, kinesthetic (tactile) awareness and requires developed proprioceptive and vestibular systems.

We all know about our five senses. The proprioceptive and vestibular systems are our sixth and seventh inner senses! They have an important role to play in the learning process, as they are associated with body movement and balance, regulation of emotional responses and sensory processing. For example, they impact how our children’s eyes track words across a page, their ability to sit and concentrate, and how well they hold a pencil. Your child’s bilateral coordination, the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time, is called “crossing the midline”. It too is an important part of your child’s early development and needed for learning.

As complicated as this all sounds, you can help your child develop these systems and skills by simply facilitating new experiences and opportunities for movement. Let your baby have lots of tummy time, which will enable crawling, an early movement which crosses the midline. Ditch the pushchair for the day and help your little one toddle along besides you, while you discuss what you can see in shop windows (and every leaf you see along the way!) Take your toddler to the park to climb, spin and swing. Encourage them to jump in muddy puddles and visit your local swimming pool together. Hone fine motor skills by helping your child cut using scissors, paint with paintbrushes using paint, water or move paintbrushes in salt on a brightly coloured tray to create marks. Provide your child with sand and play dough, and prepare meals together at home.

Your child’s readiness to learn is not accomplished through workbooks and formal tasks. Try one of these ideas today or visit somewhere new together and continue to lay the foundations for your child’s lifelong learning.

Author, Amy Crump BSc (Hons) PGCE, Qualified Early Years Teacher,

Editor, Helen McClorry, Babies on board Magazine.

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