This is a common themed question. Many parents ask me regularly about their child’s maths and literacy development. They focus heavily on academic success and measure this based on their child’s ability in these two subject areas. As important as academic achievement is, it is not the most important thing that needs to be focussed upon at this early stage in a child’s life.
I think the question to be considered here is how do we actually measure success? Happiness is key towards a successful future. In order to achieve this we must first and foremost support our children towards developing a positive image of themselves, along with consideration for others and the world around them. Personal, social and academic development is therefore recognised as one of the prime areas as it is crucial towards success in life. During this stage of your child’s life she will be going through a ‘sensitive period towards the social aspects of life’ ¹. It is therefore vital that your child is supported and presented with opportunities to acquire these skills. This will not be achieved through isolation, it relies upon social interaction and the child’s carers modelling appropriate behaviour.
Play is important towards the holistic development of children. It provides many opportunities for children to socialise on a number of levels. As your child matures, so will their play as it continues to support their development throughout different stages of life. Through play your child is presented with freedom of choice and decision making, as they choose with whom and what type of play they would like to enter into. It presents opportunities for children to refine gross motor skills through games requiring physical movement and abilities.
Children learn from one another when playing together, develop problem solving skills and how to follow simple rules. During role play children can reflect upon their experiences and make sense of the world around them. They begin to see other’s points of view, take turns and compromise in order for the play to flow successfully. It is through play that children develop friendships as they get to know each other by sharing experiences and ideas. If the sensitive period towards social interaction is not adequately supported, then your child will have to try to learn these skills at a subsequent time with greater difficulty. This could in turn lead to problems in this important area of their development with greater repercussions later in life. Our social skills and the way we feel about ourselves form the backbone of our personal and professional success. They help us to navigate every day interactions such as exchanging greetings, holding conversations, starting and maintaining friendships and other relationships, asking for help and giving instructions.
Ultimately we all want our children to develop the same fundamental values. Supporting your child’s personal, social and emotional development will help set the foundations for everything else. If a child feels happy and secure in themselves they will be more able and willing to learn.
1 Montessori, Maria. The Absorbent Mind. Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company, 2007