A mother’s role in children education during the first years of life
The first two years in a child’s life are the most important when we think about his education, personality, and mental strengths. These things cannot be “taught” the way we teach kids in school or prep school, because at such an early age, a baby won’t understand what a teacher or parent would tell him. In this article, I aim to explain to you how a baby’s mind works till the age of two years old, how does he learn during this period and how can you, as a parent, help him develop in the best possible way.
Children growth periods
The baby goes through three main growth periods. It is vital to know them because, during each of these periods, the child undergoes certain transformations, and the way he sees the world and how he learns from it is quite different.
The first period starts at birth and lasts until 6 years old. It is a period with many transformations, different in each of the two parts of this period: from birth to 3 years old, and from 3 to 6. The main difference between the two sequences is that if during the first one we cannot get close to the baby’s mind, during the second part we can somehow get close and influence it through our actions. Therefore the parents and teachers can begin to interact with the baby’s mind through activities specific to this period.
The second period is from 6 to 12 years of age. The child grows, he’s thrilled, settled and doesn’t go through significant changes. It is the best period to explore new things that will consolidate the interests discovered during the first period.
The third period lasts from 12 to 18 years old. The child goes through significant transformations, puberty, and adolescence. We all know this is the “rebel” period, but it is the defining period for the adult that the child will become. Beyond 18 years old, all learning process is much harder and lengthier.
Just think about how a small child learns a new language compared to an adult. A child will learn it faster, more natural, and will speak it correctly, with the right accent, flawless grammar and vocabulary. An adult, though, will always have issues no matter how much he will practice, and to him, this new language will always be a second one. This is all because when small, the child’s mind is like a sponge that absorbs everything, while the adult’s brain that needs to be continuously trained to learn anything new and unfamiliar.
What is happening with the child until two years of age
A child of 2 is already familiar with all the persons and places surrounding him. And this is due to the way he took in all this information during the years, and not because of the way this information was told and presented to him by an adult. As adults, all we are in terms of personality, passions, and talents is because of the way we built ourselves as children. The most essential thinking patterns and mental strengths were constructed in the first two years of life.
When he is born, the baby knows nothing, but in two years he gets to learn so much. It’s amazing how his mind can do this. How does the baby develop so much? He learns through unconscious experiences. He plays a lot, laughs, discovers things, is curious, and enjoys everything he stumbles upon. In other words, he loves learning and simply absorbs everything out of the environment he experiences and is exposed to.
During the first two years of life, the child has a different type of intelligence than the adult. In this timeframe, his mind learns through all the stimuli that come from the external environment, precisely like a sponge absorbs the water. Everything he learns during this time stays with him for the rest of his life: the language(s) he learns, his personality, habits, etc.
The child learns from everything he experiments: through play, from whatever he touches or sees moving, from sounds, etc. This way he’s developing his intelligence, thinking patterns and all his emotions. He’s basically building his personality from zero. At birth, he knows nothing, but at 2 years old he’s already having the foundation of the adult he’ll become.
From the naive creature he is at birth, the child becomes aware though exploration. His mind transforms from an all-absorbent sponge to a conscious one with logical connections. That is why the conscious mind of an adult is so limited compared with his unconsciousness.
The role parents play in educating a child below two years of age
As I was mentioning above, a child below two years old cannot be taught using classical teaching methods. We can’t tell him what he’s allowed to do and what he’s not, we can’t make him learn through making him repeat what we told him or through reading. The child below two can only learn through experimenting, and through being exposed to as many external stimuli as possible.
As mother and parent, our role in raising and developing our child below two years old is to keep him safe, offer him what he needs to survive as he’s totally dependent on us and, very important, to help him explore as much as possible the world surrounding him, without obstacles and blockers. This way, we allow him to absorb everything until his conscious mind develops.
This way, a parent’s role is to prepare as many exciting environments for the baby and expose him to as many life experiences and instances where he can explore and learn. Letting the child explore on his own is the only way to make him develop during this period.
You, as a mother or father, have this fundamental role in helping your child become the adult he needs to grow. Under two years of age, you cannot tell him how he should behave, but what you can do is to expose him to the right environments, safely, so that he can do the learning by absorbing and taking everything in.
As a parent, you cannot “train” a child’s mind, but you can help him absorb as many different things as possible to become a great adult. Remember, it is during this time that the baby is developing the most fundamental thinking, personality, and mental abilities.
One way to help the baby take in more is to offer him as many exploration options as possible, as many elements as you can. Babymat is a choice, through the sensory blankets that provide a whole universe of exploration. These help the baby learn about new materials, develop and coordinate his movements, make correlations between touching and sound, see new colors, and make associations. It is definitely an element the baby will love. Take a look at these and order one for your baby!
*article inspired from “The Absorbent Mind”, a book written by Maria Montessori, digital printed version, August 2016