Posted April 2nd, 2013
Month of the Young Child® Focus Weeks
Children’s early years are the foundation for growth and development. Children are constantly developing and learning. What they are learning depends on their social-emotional health, physical health, relationships, and daily interactions and experiences. The MOYC® 2013 Focus Weeks highlight a different facet of development. Use this information to make a difference in the life of a young child!
Week 1 April 1-6 Physical Development
Proper nutrition and rest, opportunities to explore in safe, supportive environments, sound health practices, and nurturing, responsive relationships help ensure children’s physical development. Children vary in their physical abilities at different ages; different parts of the body grow at different rates. Children need to move and be active in many different ways to reach their full physical development.
- Healthy babies should sleep on their backs, but have time to play on their tummies when they are awake.
- Well-balanced meals support growth and development.
- Exercise and fresh air enhance well-being.
- Safe, secure environments support exploration which helps develop muscles and motor skills.
Week 2 April 7 – 13 Social-Emotional Development
Social-emotional development strongly influences interpersonal relations, behavior and learning. The early childhood years are a critical period for the development of self-esteem and social skills. Early interactions and how we relate and respond, directly affect the way the brain is ‘wired’; children learn in the context of important relationships. Children with a healthy sense of self-esteem feel that the important adults in their lives love them, accept them, and would go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being.
Respond lovingly – smile, hold, cuddle – to help build trusting relationships.
- Talk with and listen to children with genuine interest and respect.
- Focus on the positive; thank children for sharing, helping, cooperating.
- Set reasonable limits children can learn and depend on.
Week 3 April 14 – 20 Cognitive Development
Brain development research affirms what parents and teachers have known for years, 1) good prenatal care, 2) warm and loving attachments between young children and adults and 3) positive stimulation from the time of birth makes a difference in children’s development for a lifetime. Early experiences contribute significantly to the structure of the brain. The quality, quantity and consistency of stimulation determines how the brain connects and functions; this is true for cognitive and emotional development, and the effect is lifelong.
- Experience wires the brain; repetition strengthens the wiring.
- The sense of touch helps children to ground abstract ideas in concrete experiences.
- When children exercise, they build muscles and boost brainpower.
- Preschoolers need 9-10 hours of sleep each day. During sleep, the brain processes the day’s information, strengthening memories and rehearsing tasks.
Week 4 April 21 – 30 Language and Literacy
Communication is the vehicle for intellectual development, exchanging information, sharing feelings, and developing strong emotional bonds. Talking with children encouragingly about the things they are doing, thinking, and feeling enhances children’s language development and helps build confidence and independence. Reading aloud with children is an essential component to language development and is one of the most important activities for preparing them to succeed as readers.
- Make time to read with your child each and every day.
- Read it again, and again, and again – children delight in the familiar and knowing what comes next.
- Talk to and with your children so they can learn about the sounds, rhythms and purpose of language.
- Talk about everyday print, read signs and point out letters and words so children learn the importance of written communication.