Giving Preschoolers A Leg Up on Learning

Numerous studies have been made as to how to get your preschooler ready for school and have him/her excel. Everyone wants to have the best and the brightest child, and although genetics plays a big role in your child’s potential there are a number of things a parent can do to give their child a better chance at getting ahead.

The Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan presented their findings on preschool   learning at the White House Conference on Early Child Development in 1997. In their study they found that children who had conversations and interacted with their parents through books and activities, and without television and video games, had better vocabulary and were able to learn at a higher level than others.

A number of studies since then have reinforced this idea, that although we inherit our brains from our ancestors, how we use them can change everything. As we grow our brains undergo many changes, and can form new connections (synapse) based on what we are learning at the time. If we read more, hold conversations that engage our brains in different areas, and ask a lot of questions our brains are constantly making new connections that form new networks.   If we simply sit in front of a television screen, even if we interact to a certain degree, we are forming very few new connections, and merely copying what we see on the screen. We also are not allowing our children to learn on their own.

When we are born we are given a certain amount of connections in our brain to start with. Over time some of these connections die off or are lost, but if we continue to stimulate our brains we can grow new ones. From birth until age 2, children’s brains are expanding daily. They are developing language and motor skills at a rate faster then they ever will again. Between ages 3-5 that growth begins to slow down and different connections are being formed within the brain regions. Toddlers begin to take in all that goes on around them, and their brains are developing language, cognitive and problem-solving skills to be able to maneuver and communicate. Their bodies are also learning coordination, and they are now able to aim and shoot when playing soccer and kickball.

It is during this crucial time of development we can keep those connections sparking by encouraging your child to explore and ask questions. Finding answers on their own, with guidance and interaction with adults, allows your child to learn to deal with challenges and find out answers on their own. It will help them to build a basis for exploration and development that they will not get by sitting in front of a television set and learning by repetition. The more you allow your child to explore on their own while you interact with them, the better their brains will connect and form new networks, and the better their brain will develop.

“The simple exchange of language and ideas is a much more important brain builder than putting your child in a million different activities,” says Macias, a pediatrics professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

This age is the perfect time to get quality “face time” by doing interactivities like reading together. Studies have shown that parents and children reading together improve literacy by sharpening vocabulary and language skills. It also leads to discussions that help a child better understand what they are reading. “Books that tell a story, and ones that teach counting, ABC’s, sorting and matching, and similar core concepts are perfect for this age,” says Gallagher, who is an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University’s Child Study Center.

I also believe it is never too early to teach your child memory improvement techniques.

From the desk of Ron White

Memory Training


WebMD Feature – How activities such as playing, reading, and learning languages stimulate your preschooler’s mind, by Shahreen Abedin:

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