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7 Things Your Child Must Be Doing Before They Learn Their A-B-Cs

I write this article as I return from a recently concluded education conference.  One particular statement by an eminent speaker stuck in my head “We need to look down the line to 20 years from now and see what skills our children will need. Will it be survival skills or knowing Newton’s law?”

None of us know what 20 years from now will look like be it jobs or technology. Will writing by hand even be relevant or required by then?

So, what do we know for sure then? We know that whatever the world maybe, our children will require a set of life skills to be able to survive, to be able to navigate and build relationships, to have a global outlook and have tolerance, and to have the ability to deal with and articulate their feelings. So if these are really the skills they need for life then why do we spend the precious years between 1-6 years forcing our children to do mathematics, write and learn things by rote?

We’ve said this before:  a child’s biggest developments happen in the first 6 years. At Papagoya, we have a set of 7 important skills we believe children should possess even before they learn the ABCD’s. And, we focus on them every day :

1. Running, playing and jumping

We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Children build their confidence by first learning to do things with their body. Climbing into the tree house, coming down the slide, going up a climbing wall. Every time we say "good job" or "well done", we build their confidence and give them the want and need to continually explore and develop. A confident child has no limits to the things they can do and learn.

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2. Develop a strong set of values

“Please”, “thank you”, “sorry”, learning to help others, love, sharing and caring, honesty and determination are not values children acquire by accident. These are vital to their coexistence as human beings and must start being developed from an early age. It is our responsibility as adults to equip our children with values that make them better human beings. Better human beings always make for a better world.

3.Fostering creativity and imagination

Somewhere along the line education became about creating a cookie cutter set of children. Children are innately curious and creative and it’s about how we foster this every day. We find giving children a small set of toys that can be played with multiple times in different ways helps (eg: Lego blocks). We see children’s imagination come alive through pretend play – a kitchen or doctor set, sometimes a simple microphone does it.

4. Learning to deal with emotions

Often we come across people in our workspace that struggle because of their inability to either deal with their own emotions or express their feelings or are unable to help and work with colleagues. Recognizing our feelings and being able to articulate them is a skill a human being needs through their entire life. When children kick, bite, scream – it is basically their inability to process what they are feeling and their way of articulating it is through these various behaviors. We need to help them understand how they feel, help them identify it and give them tools and ways to deal with it.

5. A love for books

Read, Read, Read. This cannot be said enough. It’s not about getting your child to read so much as spending time reading to your children. A child’s imagination is sparked when a book is opened up. They start to understand the way the world works, they develop language and listening skills and it makes their transition to reading and writing very natural. Even when your child starts reading, it’s important you continue to read for them.  By equipping our children with the love for books and stories we truly empower them for life.

6. The ability to create human connections and build relationships

Socializing amongst children gives them an understanding of how to function when they are around children and adults alike. By nature, young children are more egocentric. It is through socialization that our value system slowly starts being built, our ability to show our emotions and deal with them also comes to the fore, embracing diversity, understanding social cues and the way the world functions are all aspects of life that children pick up on the playground. Learning how to create friendships and build relations is a skill for life, without which the world can be a very hard place for a child to navigate.

 7. Colouring and drawing

Yes, ultimately our children will hold pencils and start writing but before that, we have to help them develop strong wrists and fine motor skills. Encouraging your child to colour and draw allows them to explore their imagination, creativity and verbal. They start talking about the stories and creatures they draw and are able to express emotions and relationships through this medium. Of course – they will also learn to hold a pencil!

You may also like: Norwegian Kindergarten School Papagoya Enters Bengaluru And Sparks Intrigue! Heard Of It Yet?

None of these 7 points function in isolation and in fact, each of them is interlinked many times over. Will the ability to multiply and know the ABCD really help our children deal with the world that awaits them? The early years are exactly the time we should be inculcating softer aspects like values, free play a, d creativity into our children’s life. To create a generation of children that are confident, kind, tolerant and imaginative we need to equip them with the tools that will truly stand the test of time.

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