Why the First Five Years are so Important: The 10 Stages of Play
From day one, your little one is growing, changing, learning and developing. We now know that from the time of birth until age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in their life! 90%! These five years are essential and, the best part is that as caregivers, you have the ability to really steer how the brain develops. This early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn, to develop social and emotional abilities and ability to succeed in school and life.
So, how can you help?
The fact that you’re taking the time to do your research already shows that you care and are headed in the right direction. One essential part to remember is that a child’s relationships with the adults in their lives are the most important influences on their brain development. This means that loving relationships with responsive, dependable adults are essential to a child’s healthy development. Consider anyone in your children’s lives. Parents, family, friends, care givers and any other people in your children’s lives who spend time with them.
From birth, young children serve up invitations to engage with their parents and other adult caregivers. Babies do it by cooing and smiling and crying. Toddlers communicate their needs and interests more directly. Each of these little invitations is an opportunity for the caregiver to be responsive to the child’s needs. This “serve and return” process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain. Parents and caregivers who give attention, respond and interact with their child are literally building the child’s brain. That’s why it’s so important to talk, sing, read and play with young children from the day they’re born, to give them opportunities to explore their physical world, and to provide safe, stable and nurturing environments.
Our suggestions are the same. Talk, sing, read and play! Be present. This is most important step and perhaps the most difficult in our ever-connected technology centered world. Taking the time to continually connect is what pays off in the long run.
Below are the 10 stages of play for your little one. The great thing is that, at every stage, there is an opportunity for you to connect and interact with your child. Even during the 0-8 month phase, you can help your baby discover props, movement and more. You can talk and narrate what you see and what is happening so you are keeping an interactive connection throughout play.
You are your child’s first and most impactful teacher, give them the best tools for success through a great channel of communication with you, your presence and your skills to help them navigate a new world of play!