In the last few weeks of our Parent & Child classes, we have explored the world of language development in babies and toddlers under the age of 3. Our weekly themes have included word repetition, letter shapes and sounds, rhyming and story telling.
But why start at such a young age? After all, a poll commissioned by Save The Children’s ‘Read On. Get On’ campaign suggested that up to 61% of parents considered the school years to be the most important learning period for children.
For us, the reason is simple. Here at The Little Gym we believe that it is never too early to introduce babies and toddlers to a wide range of learning concepts. Scientific research indicates that the early years are the most critical in developing a strong foundation for lifelong learning. In effect, they are a ‘lightbulb moment’ and the point in life where children’s brains grow and develop the most rapidly.
Failure to develop adequate language skills in the early years can result in children struggling to in the classroom and lagging behind their peers - with consequences that can last for decades.
Further information about the importance of the early years in speech and language development can be found in Save the Children and the Institute of Child Health at University College London’s 'Lighting Up Young Brains'.
In the past weeks in our Parent and Child classes, we have focused on the different aspects of language development in toddlers. For example, we explored the importance of rhymes and the recognition of letters and letter sounds.
Next week we will be asking parents from our 'Beasts' and 'Super Beasts' classes to choose a story that both they and their little one love and read it seven times in a row! This scenario may be all too familiar with many of you already, as toddlers often want to hear their favourite stories over and over and over again.
So why is repetition so important, and what is the best way to read the story so your little one benefits the most?
Firstly, science has proven that repetition is the key to learning. This is true not only for forward rolls, handstands and cartwheels, but also for everything we learn.
Beyond that repetition is comforting. If you want to read more about the benefits of repetition, you can find a good article here.
A great way to encourage language development is to practice "Active Reading" during story time with your child. Start asking your child questions on each page or at the end to see how much they can remember and comprehend. They can answer using their words, or simply pointing to a picture in the book. Use your finger as a guide following the words while you are reading to teach them that reading goes from left to right. In no time they will sit down with that same book and pretend to read to themselves. Remember NOT to correct their pronunciation, but motivate and encourage by applauding their efforts so they can develop a LOVE of books and confidence in reading.
We are running our brilliantly fun camps for kids over 3 years of age in the week after Easter. Camps are already filling up fast, so don't miss out! The camps are full of laughter, fun and learning and a great way of keeping the kids active during the holidays.
We are already in week 2 of our spring term but it is not to late to join the FUN. Classes are filling up fast, so don't delay and call us today to book your slot