A Parent's Role
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your child develop her potential is to relax. There is no need to set learning goals and teach her anything in the formal sense, and attempts to push her into mastering new skills before she is ready will only be frustrating for both you and your child. Young children are naturally eager to learn about the world; all that parents really have to do is provide access to a wealth of interesting experiences, some guidance and loving encouragement you relax and enjoy your time with your child, you create an environment of warmth and pleasure in which the learning process can take place almost unnoticed. And should you make a few mistakes along the way, you will havc ample opportunity to rectify them: It has been estimated that in a single three-month period during the irst year oI lire, a baby has some 32,000 distinct learning encounters with her parents, each of them an occasion for emotion and information to pass between adult and child.
YOu will find it easier to reiax and be confident about your role if you understand the basic patterti and pace of your child's mental development and fhow tiey afect ieTning ability at various ages.
You should aiso bC awarc of some of the emotional needs and forces at work within that iranewOrk. Among these are self-esteem, which is practically indispensahle t0 healthy iitellectual progress, and 2 growing child's desire for independence. Your child's curiosity and natural drive to master new skilIs are also powertil engines for the learning process.
Knowledge of these clements enables a parent to provide the kind of environment that enhances their positive efects an environment that responds to the child, stimulatCs her imagination and offers a large measure of freedom.
Researchers in child development have confirmed many things that wise parents seem always to have known instinctively. One of these is that babies are stimulatcd by their parents taiking to them even before they can understand what is being said. Studies have shown that mothers who talk to their infants a lot tend to produce more competent children than do mothers who address fewer words and sounds to their babies. Early verbal stimulation has a beneficial influence not only on later skill with the spOken word but on reading ability as well.
But initially, language is not a child's primary learning tool. He learns 1nstead through concrete, Sensory experiences. He l0oks on the world as a place filled with wondrous new things to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. At this stage he loves to use his fingers or mouth to explore Shapes and textures, and he should be given plenty of sare objects to experiment with.
One of the biggest rewards for parents who learn some of the basic principles or development is being able to stay in step with their children, neither frustrating them with toys or activities too difficult to master nor boring them with overly simple playthings and stories. But every child is different, and you should not expect your youngster to perform stricthy in accord with a calendar of development. Although you can learn the stages of progress from the authorities, you will know the pace at which your own child develops only by close observation of the youngster.