As parent we always want the best for our children. It applies twice when it comes to education and sport. We want to make sure we’re choosing a good school and that we’re supporting our kids to do sports and to exercise. In some countries, parents are choosing school for their baby even before she’s born. If there is a long waiting list at your nearest or prefered school and you expect to live in the same area for many years to come, it is what you need to do, so do it. But right after you sign her name to the waiting list, forget about your child’s education. At least for the next five years. Why?
- You don’t know her personality
- You don’t know her talents
- You don’t know her preferences
Children don’t need structured learning early on. It doesn’t mean that you should leave kids to run wild. Play with them, teach them about everyday things in life, read books to them, show them how to hold a pencil correctly. Spend as much time with them as you can. The biggest learning accelerator for kids is their natural curiosity. They explore the world and learn things at their own pace. The most important is their personal growth. Teach them real values, empathy and respect. They will have plenty of time in life to learn everything else later.
Children love to play and need to play
Children are learning through play and it’s meant to be this way. If you want your child to learn something, turn it into a game. As I mentioned earlier, kids need freedom to explore everything around them. They need to be with other kids to gain basic social skills – it’s always different to being with adults only. If their time is too structured, they won’t get a chance to discover their own potential by following their hearts and expand their imagination & creativity. Aren’t those two things the most important nowadays? So remember: Everything they learn should feel like fun for them.
Sports and exercise
Physical activity is essential – luckily you don’t need to pay much effort in first five years to get them up & do some exercise. What is the best activity for your toddler or pre-schooler? Anything he does outside. In nature, ideally. There’s not too many kids that would sit and play for hours. Especially when you take them to a playground or for a walk in nature. Kids are so happy outside. And they won’t stop until they’re tired out completely. They love climbing fences, running, jumping, swimming and it’s all good for them.
Do you want your child to become an Olympic champion some day?
In case you are (or you’ve been) doing some sport on the professional level and you think your child takes after you, you’ll probably start with his trainings early on. But even if your child seems to be very talented, don’t take it too seriously in the first years. Make sure he doesn’t feel like he “has to play.” Let him try different sports and choose one he likes best if you want him/her to join some trainings. If they change their minds, it’s ok. All I’m trying to say is that children don’t need to start sports that early. If someday they’ll have a dream to become a professional soccer player, they will pursue their dream (with your help). They don’t need to lay a foundation stone for it when they’re four or five.
What my child has to know before she turns 5?
What your child knows before she turns five is not that important. Developmental tables are very wide and still it’s only average that not everyone fulfils. The most important thing for your child is to be happy and healthy. Stop comparing and stop worrying. Enjoy this precious time when your kids are little and cute. They’re learning tons of new things everyday no matter if you realize it or not. It doesn’t matter if your friend’s child can count to 100 and your son still leaves out 8 when counting to 10. Maybe his brain’s been concentrating on refining different sphere like language, social and emotional skills or gross motor skills.
Is everything all right with my child?
My doctor once told me, that “it’s his job to notice if anything is wrong with my child.” Your doctor sees your child on regular check-ups and on every other occasion you’re visiting him. He’s observing your child’s reactions and behaviour even if you bring her in because of a flu or cough. So if you have any worries, talk to your family doctor or to your child’s paediatrician. Doctors really are the first to notice if there’s any problem. They not only have professional, qualified point of view, they also have much wider “comparison sample” so they can better determine if anything is out of scale and needs to be looked at more closely. You can also talk to your child’s teacher in preschool or caregiver in nursery. They have more objective view than parents. Please, don’t feel offended if they tell you there is something to pay attention to in regards to your child. It’s your child and you know his/her personality the best and no one cares more about his/her health than yourself. Think about the feedback you’re getting, try to understand it and I’m sure you will make the right decision.