Every child deserves a solid launchpad into the rest of life. So while there seems to be so many things to remember as mums, don’t forget the most important things in order to give your younger kids a real head start…
1. START EARLY
When you’re building a house – everything hinges on a strong, level foundation. It’s the same when it comes to building a life. That’s why UNICEF and the World Health Organisation have made the first 1000 days of a child’s life a key focus. (Source)
Calculated from the moment a child is conceived until they reach 2 years of age, here’s the reason why this time is such a big deal: this relatively short time in life has a lifelong effect on the rest of our lives, on our health and wellbeing. Here’s how UNICEF puts it:
Childhood Milestones: Healthy Development at Every Age
“The right nutrition and care during the first 1000 days influences… his or her ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty. As such, it contributes to society’s long-term health, stability and prosperity.”
2. PLAY, PLAY, PLAY
As crazy as this might sound, ensuring your kids play, play and play a little more is the serious business of their young lives. When your kids are off the couch, the screens are switched off, and their imaginations are switched on: they’re far more likely to be strengthen their gross and fine motor skills.What are fine motor skills?
Gross motor skills pertain to skills involving large muscle movements, such as independent sitting, crawling, walking, or running. Fine motor skills involve the use of smaller muscles, such as grasping, pinching, or drawing.
The development of a child’s mind starts through these movements. Without developing motor skills, learning later in life will be far more difficult.
Listen below to little Molly Wright sharing why peek-a-boo can change the world!
3. READ THE ROOM
Not only does reading help infants learn their native language and develop their speech, it also builds their emotional connection with the person reading to them and holding them.
It encourages your baby to look, point, touch, and answer questions too—strengthening their social development and thinking skills.
From the time your child is born, daily reading will help the brain make connections between the written and spoken word, helping them to one day (soon) get ahaed when it comes to reading, spelling and speaking too.
Once your child goes to school, encourage them to read each and every day Click Here to see why.
4. MAKE A MEAL OF IT
As chaotic as dinner time can be when there are fussy little people and weary grown-ups involved, don’t give up on having family meals together either. Eating together will help your child make better choices about the foods they eat and give family members time to talk with each other.
In addition, a teen who eats meals with the family is more likely to get better grades and less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs, and also less likely to get into fights, think about suicide, or engage in sexual activity! Wow! Who knew dinnertime was so darn important!
If you’re needing some inspiration to get the table talking, look no further:Table Talk >
5. GET ‘EM SLEEPING!
Getting enough sleep is really important – no matter your age. But with all the brain, body, and emotional development going on in the early years of life, our kids especially need quality sleep.
Prolonged poor sleep is associated with a suppressed immune system and increased risks of cardiac problems, strokes and diabetes. Emotionally, a lack of sleep causes a release of higher volumes of cortisol (the stress hormone), which means you’re more inclined to feel anxious and depressed.See how much sleep your kids should be getting >
6. GET ’EM WORKING!
Getting kids to help out at home is just as important as getting them to work hard at school. In fact, a 75-year longitudinal study at Harvard found that kids who do chores are more successful as adults! Think about the world of work for example:
Who are the people who are the first to get fired? Or at least the last to be promoted?
It’s people who don’t finish what they start. It’s unreliable and irresponsible people. People who don’t pull their weight.
Think about relationships: in our marriages and families, these things count even more. Learning to pull our weight can and should ideally start when we’re little, at home. Giving our kids chores is precisely where they learn to do their part. Here's How >
That’s it moms! This is how we give our kids the strongest start in life: a solid foundation, loads of playtime and connection, lots of books, regular table talk, sufficient sleep and making sure they share in the chores…
Which ones are you you going to focus on next? Any other big things you’d add to this list?
If your kids are a little older – then be sure to check out the next article in this mini-series: Setting Your Teen Up For Success.