Understanding the Child

Research clearly shows that the most important period in a human beings emotional and educational development is the first six years of life (birth to age 6). Every human being is a unique combination of

  • his genetic inheritance
  • his biological development
  • his experiences

Genetics is concerned with the potential or predispositions one inherits from parents. However, these will only develop if the human is allowed to develop normally. Similarly, the human brain can only develop through active use. This is especially true in the years from birth to six years.

The young child is eager to learn. It has been recognized that with stimulation the child’s ability to concentrate, absorb and master new ideas and skills increases and that the earlier we begin a programme of intellectual, physical, sensory and artistic education, the more dramatic the results.

The young children are able to see further and focus on moving objects. They begin to gain control over arm movements and are able to grasp objects with the whole hand. As they grow they are able to use fewer and fewer fingers until they begin to use a pincer grasp using the index finger and the thumb.

Movement is critical to brain development. It is as necessary as nutrition. All of an infant’s senses are functioning at birth. They grow more acute over the years from birth to three years. An infant hears his/her mother’s voice before birth and is intently listening and watching mouth movements from time of birth. Infants gain understanding long before they can speak. They need to be exposed to language with the adults around them talking and explaining what is happening.

Once the toddler is walking (on an average at about twelve months), their hands are free for work. Their new interest is in accomplishing things with their own hands. They want to imitate what they see adults doing and they want to gain independence. Because the child is just discovering that he is a separate person from his parents, he very strongly asserts this independence. The wise adults allow toddlers to have independence to explore and make choices within a safe environment. We need to give freedom within the security of limits and within a loving and trusting relationship.