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The First 5 Years Of Your Child's Life Can Shape Their Destiny. Here's What You Can Do

09/08/2016 3:24 PM IST | Updated 12/08/2016 8:57 AM IST
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The birth of a child heralds many new beginnings. Each day is a first. Every second is precious with each building towards the development of an entirely new person. With their own particular set of emotions, opinions and views. Your baby is a human being capable of independent thought, but in the first five years of his or her existence, the responsibility to shape that capacity lies in the hands of the parents.

Consider the numbers: Babies are born with more than 100 billion nerve cells in their brains. Learning occurs when these nerve cells, or neurons, connect with each other through synapses. By the age of five, 90% of the brain's capacity has already developed. A child's brain is more receptive to learning during the first five years of his life than at any other point in time. What's most relevant here is that the brain is most plastic or flexible in the first five years of life. The more you exercise different areas of the brain in the early years of development, the more lasting an impact it will have on their learning ability.

These first five years will form the fundamental building blocks of their future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement in school.

Think of your child as a sponge -- they will absorb all possible information around them at amazing speed. Which is why it's imperative to create an exciting and challenging environment for them. These first five years will form the fundamental building blocks of their future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement in school. This is also the time when they will learn how to interact, how to build and maintain social relationships. What they experience today is what they will exhibit tomorrow.

So how do you manage to do this to the best of your ability? How do you make sure that the environment you create for your child is challenging enough for him or her to realize their best potential?

The key is to maximize the learning capacity of children in their formative years through mental stimulation, attention, encouragement, love and good healthcare. Expose your child to different activities to help them activate synaptic connections to maximum areas of the brain. This will allow children to acquire new knowledge, learn new skills, and set and achieve goals for themselves. Many early learning experts view learning via eclectic activities as one of the most important domains of early childhood development.

But there are also a few points to keep in mind before embarking on this adventure. Do remember that each child has his or her own learning curve. They tend to develop at their own pace even if they grow up in the same environment. While interacting with children, it is important to understand subjective growth curves. Each child will take a different route for maximized learning. This means that often as a parent or teacher you will have to use different learning methods and customized curricula depending on their learning curve.

The easiest way to do this for parents and teachers is to actively engage a child's curiosity. All those hundreds of questions a child keeps asking -- those are the moments when a child's brain is developing. Answering those in a satisfactory manner -- not only addressing the question but also encouraging them to think further and ask new ones -- should be a parent's or teacher's aim. Alongside interacting in a way that rewards and boosts their curiosity, also let them explore their surroundings as it encourages creative play and positive behaviour.

It is tempting to step in and help your child, but you may end up obstructing their learning by taking over.

Another factor to keep in mind is how much you're "helping" your child. It is tempting to step in and help your child, but you may end up obstructing their learning by taking over. You should offer minimal assistance and let them discover solutions by themselves. Parents should create homework-friendly atmosphere so that it is easy for the child to work without stress or losing focus.

Another important factor in maximizing learning is for the child to get into a routine. Kids who are encouraged to consistently practice their organization skills at home typically transfer those skills to the classroom. Morning, after-school, and evening routines all require organization skills to run smoothly. Whether it's emptying book bags right after school, picking out school clothes the night before, or going to bed at a certain time, an organized routine teaches kids consistency, which pays off in other spheres of life as well.

The kind of support provided in the early years of a child's life paves the way to an individual's well being throughout life. Your simple interactions from the moment a child awakens to the second they go to sleep have a deeper impact than you can imagine.

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