My early childhood development helped shape who I am today. Living on a farm, trying to care for pets we collected over the years, Mom calling us kids in from outside for supper…my preschool years had a big impact in my life. Let me share with you some reasons why I am passionate about the preschool years!
1. Importance of Development in the Preschool Years
The emotional, spiritual, social, and physical development of a child in their preschool years (2-5 years) has a direct affect on their growth and who they will become as an adult. I believe development that occurs during a child’s first 5 years of life lay a foundation for future health, self-contentment, learning abilities, and achievement in their school, family, community, and life in general.
Preschool aged children also learn the quickest and retain the most in their first 5 years of life. Do you remember learning how to hold a spoon? Or how to walk or run? Now, you do it without even thinking about it! Preschool years are a time to learn skills you need for life (balancing, walking, problem solving, language development…etc), that you are not instinctively born with knowing how to do (like breathing, swallowing, sucking…etc).
2. Importance of Play in the Preschool Years
I believe play is crucial to a young child’s development. It allows for children to use creative thinking while developing their imagination, fine and large motor skills, physical, social, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is the easiest way for children to explore, understanding the world around them.
In my 10 years of teaching, I have found that I learn more about a child’s development while I observe their play, than when I give them assessments to test their knowledge and progress. In play, children feel free to express problems they are having, role-play occupations or family members they admire. Children feel confident in play to take risks and try new skills.
3. Influence of Family Environment on a Preschool Child
I have always believed that parents and other family members are the greatest teachers a child can ever have. That can be awesome for families that are working hard to invest in their children. That truth can be very hard and damaging for families who are experiencing a lot of toxic stress or trauma. Parents and family members are some of the most influential role models a child can have in their preschool years. Teachers will always have a special place in kid’s hearts, but parents will be connected to their children forever.
Families have a huge impact on the preschooler in the home. In the preschool years, families help shape likes and dislikes, broaden horizons, spiritual influences, experience new places, provide support (or lack of) for passions…Families are a BIG part of a preschooler’s life, because that is what they know and experience every day.
As a kid, I remember having a few main supper dishes ALL the time. Spaghettio’s, rice with cinnamon and milk, french toast, and pizza, all a certain sibling’s favorite food. These meals still bring such a nostalgic feeling into my heart, but as a 7th grader I learned to hate french toast (Don’t worry, I love eating french toast today!). I’m sure my siblings felt the same way about Spaghettio’s (my favorite food, I know so bad). Family traditions had an impact on how I felt towards certain foods. Imagine what an impact our loved ones can have on other aspects of our life in those early years!
4. Establishing Character Development in the Preschool Years
As I have mentioned before children, ages birth-5 years old, are learning and retaining more information and development than any other time period in their life. So what better time to instill some character development in our children that will help them and others they encounter for life! Let’s teach our children to be:
- Caring about self and others
When children learn these traits (and many more!) from a preschool age, it will be hard for them to turn from it when they are older. The best way for children to learn these traits is to see them in action being done by someone they love and admire. That’s it, you got it parents, family members and teachers! They are learning these things from watching you! Next time you open the door, hold it open for everyone to go through before you. Young children will see that and imitate you! Or when you see others being kind or hard-working, point it out to your child and help them see how important that gesture can be.
5. Enjoying the Early Years with Your Child
Let’s face it, years birth to 5 with your kid can be crazy, chaotic, loud, messy, unpredictable, confusing and just mind-blowing! Take time to slow down and realize that your child is exploring the world in every way he knows how. Your 2 year old might write on the wall because she doesn’t know yet that crayons are only for paper. My preschooler’s are always experimenting with how loud their voices can go…you can imagine how that ends. I am not saying just let everything slide…no way!
Just look for ways that you can enjoy each day with your kids, whether that’s drawing with chalk outside instead of crayons on the wall, exploring the pond nearby where you can yell as loud as you want, or going on a family hike! Be sure to always check out our infant, toddler, and preschool pages for ideas of how to enjoy life with your kids!
“Mom! Do something with us!!”
My mom worked from home. She and my dad created their own embroidery business and had a huge room built onto our house to store the machines as a work space for Mom. Us kids loved being in there. There was heated floors (which is a luxury in NW Minnesota!) and piles of stuff for us to dig through and jump on! Oh, it was Mom’s work materials?? Made the room even more desirable for us crazies. I can’t imagine how hard it was for my mom to get work done, but I remember her always making a little time in her day to do something fun with us. Like these paper bag masks…
made out of treasured fabric scraps out of her embroidery room. She was the master of finding out things we could do together, even if it involved things we shouldn’t be digging in…like her embroidery room.
Can you tell I really wanted my mom to help with my mask? 😉
What are some ways that you enjoy time with your children? What are some things that you, as a young child, remember doing with your family? I would love to hear some of your ideas!