I empathize with parents. It is hard when your friend’s kid knows all their colors or can count to ten in three languages. I’ve caught myself thinking, “Oh no! Am I doing enough? Am I priming or stinting my son's genius potential?” These thoughts creep up despite parent intuition and my years of early childhood education.
It is hard for parents to resist the societal pressure for their child to "get ahead" with popular academic programs such as Junior Kumon. But trust your intuition when something doesn't feel right about seeing an overwhelmed three year old doing letter drills as depicted in the New York Times "Fast Tracking To Kindergarten" Article. And get the facts! Fast tracking to kindergarten is actually developmentally unwise. A child misses the very small window of opportunity to develop the limbic part of the brain, from where social-emotional intelligence comes, by focusing too early on reading and writing (cerebral area of the brain). This emotional part of the brain, unlike the more malleable cerebral cortex, can not be re-wired later in life! Furthermore, the potential of the brain's higher regions are dependent on the lower regions fully developing - a process that is almost complete by the age of five. This is why we say early childhood matters!
So, what can we do as parents of children under five to make sure the limbic systems fully develop? Connection, affection, and lots of time for free, uninterrupted good old fashioned play!
Learn more about brain development, supporting your child's growing sense of curiosity, and what you can do to stay connected during these first five years at local Early Childhood Matters classes, workshops and playgroups.