The way your child negotiates their first five years of life can have a massive impact upon their future prospects. Even before kids reach school age, their verbal and problem-solving abilities will largely have been established. At that stage, they will either have the right grounding to flourish in the educational system or be at a permanent disadvantage relative to their peers.
This has been born out by study after study. For instance, researchers in the USA found that children receiving extra help in their early years were much less likely to require special assistance in later years. Others have found that the first three years of life had a formative influence on young people's' communication skills. So what can Australian parents do to ensure that their children have the best possible start?
Talk to Your Child to Stimulate Their Communication Skills
The way adults communicate with children is incredibly important to the way their brains develop. Starving kids of verbal attention or humouring them with baby talk for too long can both have the effect of slowing down their verbal development.
Ask your child questions, pay attention to their answers and requests and try out what might at first seem like complex language. Kids want to grapple with complexity—it's how they move forward and begin the process of mastering language, so don't be afraid to use long sentences and different clauses.
When you sourcechild care providers, choose companies that specialise in communication. Everyone who speaks to your child will make a big impression on how their communication skills grow.
Make Sure Your Child Gets the Right Nutrition
The way children are fed is equally important as how they are spoken to. Children who don't receive enough vitamin B are known to be more prone to aggressive behaviour later in life.
There is also solid evidence that diet has a key influence on intelligence. Children fed diets rich in fats and sugars generally have lower IQs by the age of eight than those fed mainly on fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta and salads. This means maxing out on those foods, but also encouraging your child to eat vitamin B rich foods like salmon or yoghurt.
Book a Place at the Best Local Kindergarten
The third essential is finding a kindergarten near you that will take your child's education seriously. You may well be looking at kindergartens from a child care perspective, which is understandable, but try to factor in the quality of the education provided as well. Too often, parents choose a conveniently located institution rather than one that really engages with kids and challenges them, instead of just keeping them content.
A good kindergarten will want to work with you to find out what your child likes to eat, how they interact with others and the way you communicate with your child. They will apply the knowledge you give them and help to introduce your child to more advanced reading, mathematics and problem-solving tasks. Instead of just allowing your child to develop, they will shape their development, leaving them ready to shine at school.
With the right diet, strong parental communication from the start, and a high-quality kindergarten, your child will be on the road to success. Just don't coast. Those early years can't be wasted time. They could be absolutely crucial.