It is such a tightrope raising our kids these days, isn’t it? We all want our children to succeed and thrive not just in school but in life, and we all want to know that we’re doing the best that we can possibly do to prepare our children for the rigors of life. But, with so many new options in schooling and training that all seemed to be backed up by the latest science and research, choosing one schooling option over the other isn’t as easy as it used to be.
That’s why we’ve taken a look at some of the top trends in childcare and early education for this post and while we can never claim a comprehensive source of information, we hope that we’ve given you some food for thought anyway.
What we have found in our research and cross-referencing is that at the end of the day, each parent has to make the ultimate decision on education and training for their children based on a variety of factors.
There is no single avenue that one can pursue in as much as choosing a school or pre-school is concerned, rather, we’ve found that it’s a basket of considerations that parents have to navigate so with all of that being said, let’s begin!
“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded” – Jess Lair, Montana State University professor, and best-selling author.
WHY COMPETITION IS GOOD FOR CHILDREN
Healthy competition (and sometimes even the not-so-healthy kind), doesn’t just give humans a buzz or flood us with the feel-good hormones, it also inspires us (and especially children) to do our best.
As children compete with each other they automatically become more inquisitive. This means they have a greater inclination towards independence as they want to know more and discover more. It is something that child care centres in Penrith observe to bring out the best in kids It also means that they learn to work with others as they discover that they may not have all the answers, or know where to find them.
It is in the daily rough and tumble of childhood interaction with their peers that they learn about the concept of discovery which, in turn, is spurred on by not knowing the answers to questions or the solutions to problems.
Here we find the basis for this post because while we can just about all agree that competition is and can be good, as parents the juggling act of knowing what kind of competition works best for our children is where the search for kindergarten and pre-school programs begin.
Some parents still seem to think, however, that “competition” is something of a taboo or dirty word and you may feel that exposing your children to a competitive environment too early will place too much pressure on them.
After all, there is already so much pressure to “be the best” or the fastest, or the smartest, and the wrong kind of competition may cause unnecessary stress or leave children feeling undervalued or disappointed if they don’t quite cut it.
This has led to situations where the “participation certificate” has become a way out for parents who don’t want to cause their children discomfort or hurt.
This is problematic on many levels as we all know that life doesn’t lend itself to this kind of constant validation and the question then becomes, at what stage do we start “grooming” our children to appreciate that life is not a contest where the shelf is paced with participation trophies and that the opposite is, in fact, the truth.
Well, you need not fear intrepid parents because child development experts agree that a little healthy competition can be very good for children.
Aside from setting them up for life, later on, it teaches them how to process loss and disappointment and that not being the best at a task or winning every competition is a natural part of life and tasting disappointment themselves also helps them develop crucial skills like empathy and tenacity.
“Competition helps kids learn that it is not always the best or the brightest who are successful, but rather those that work hard and stick with it.” – Timothy Gunn, Psy.D, a pediatric neuropsychologist and owner of Gunn Psychological Services, Inc., in Southern California.
ADVICE FOR SUPPORTING EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
There are so many different programs and types of schooling that all promise a unique and challenging way to support your children’s early development goals. So it can be difficult to know which one to choose and honestly, it is all going to come down to a few simple factors:
- Which program will your child respond to the best?
- What is your budget versus what is available in your area?
- Which program works the best not just for your child, but your family?
- Does one or more of your children have any special needs?
We all wish we could get our children into that super fancy, slick, and modern school on the other side of town, but as fancy and slick as that facility might be, it may not actually be the best option for your child, so our #1 bit of advice for parents is:
Choose the program that is best for your child, not the program you think might have been best, for you. Each facility offers different approaches to learning.
Montessori does their thing and some schools offer a range of possibilities in one institution. Kids will be exposed to drawing and art, reading, comprehension, writing, and math, so you’ll want to know all you can about Pre-K Math: The Most Important Math Concepts Kids Learn in Pre-K versus other programs.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
When choosing programs and educational facilities, the top consideration has to be what kind of setting is going to work the best for your child, and here health, happiness, and safety are the absolute non-negotiables.
Your children cannot learn if they feel unsafe or if the environment they’re in makes them feel scared or unhappy.
You want to minimize risk but maximize learning and fun so avail yourself of preschool open days and take your children with you.
Our children have amazing instincts and they’ll let you know where they feel the most welcome.
Based on how they engage with teachers, caregivers, and other children you’ll quickly get a sense of which facility they feel the biggest connection with.
This is something that you can start doing from a very early age, and you can start doing it at home.
Promoting independent thought starts by giving your child simple chores and by creating a culture of expectation at home.
This means that when you expect more from your children (in the healthy sense mind you), they will typically rise to the challenge, so don’t do things for them that you know they can do themselves no matter how small the task is.
To children, the smallest achievement is a big deal.
DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING THEY DO
Let’s say you’ve given your child the task of making their own bed, let them do it the way that they see it happening, and don’t go in and smooth out wrinkles or do it over when they’re not looking.
When they’re “helping” you in the kitchen, let them kneed out the dough the way that works for them and while offering guidance, be sure to not make them feel bad because it wasn’t done the way you want it to be done.
There’ll be plenty of opportunities for harsh correction by society later.
PRAISE IN PUBLIC, SCOLD IN PRIVATE
Ever wondered how preschool teachers get it right? You know that they possess some kind of secret power when you go to pick up your kid or visit the school and find their classes havens of tranquility, calm, and serenity.
One of the tools they use to achieve this utopia is learning how to praise correctly. We all love validation from our superiors as well as our peers and you can use these tricks at home too.
When your child does something right, make a big deal about it (within bounds), and if they have older siblings encourage them to do so as well. This encourages an inclination towards wanting to do better, to behave better, and perform better.
CONTINUE SCHOOLING AT HOME (BUT KEEP IT FUN)
Education doesn’t only happen between 9 AM and 3 PM because your child doesn’t only absorb information between those hours and then magically go into “sleep” mode waiting for tomorrow’s lesson to come back to it.
Our children are constantly absorbing everything around them so while at home, encourage cooperation between your children and with you. Develop a predictable routine and turn responsibilities into games.
Right now, we’re in the holiday season, so creative tasks can be a Godsend.
If you have a garden, encourage as much time outside and away from devices as possible because in today’s world it’s not going to be long before our kids are tethered to tablets, cell phones, and laptops.
There is a brave and exciting world to be had in parks and outdoors, help them discover it.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROGRAMS
No matter what the school or childcare facility would want you to believe, your child’s entire future does not come down to the type of early development facility you have your child enrolled in and you don’t have to carry any guilt around with you for life, because you didn’t get your child into that school.
Certainly, at the pre-school level, you can make decisions that work the best for your family and your lifestyle, and your child.
Take the time to breathe and enjoy this period with your children, it’ll be over so quickly and before you know it, they’re choosing colleges.
So while early childhood development is important, maintaining the best possible relationship with your children through it all, is way more important.