Barnardos. (2018). Learning Together: A Parent's Guide to Early Childhood Learning. (2nd ed.). https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/234
This guide is for the parents of children between birth and the age of six. Research studies have consistently found that these early years of life are critical to the emotional and intellectual development of a child. The aim of this guide, therefore, is to provide parents with information about the value of early childhood learning and the impact it can have on a child’s quality of life, their whole development and their future opportunities and experiences. 75% of brain growth is completed during the early years.
As the primary educator and carer of your child, you, as a parent, have many responsibilities. You have the task of providing your child with food, shelter, love and affection. It is also your job to help your child to become a confident and productive member of society, able to manage relationships with others. This may sometimes seem a daunting task, but with understanding of how a child develops and of what early childhood care and education is, you will be able to understand what your child needs. 6
The importance of play cannot be emphasised enough. The learning that a child does through play is invaluable to their future learning patterns and to developing their skills so that they can become a happy, motivated, competent adult. In recent times, adults have become very concerned that children learn reading and writing skills before they start school. It has been shown, however, that ‘hot housing’ children – that is, initiating activities that do not take account of their level of development – can damage self confidence and may have no effect on academic development. Children who play and create at their own pace with the support of their parents will be the adults who creatively solve problems, and innovate and communicate well. Being a parent is probably the most important job you will do in your life. The more you understand about a child’s development and needs, the more you will be aware of what it takes to create the kind of environment your child needs in order to thrive. It is important to remember, however, that the most valuable thing you can give a child is the consistent love and affection they need to feel safe and happy.
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