Did you know that by the age of one, babies have learnt all the sounds that make up their native language? When a baby hears the sounds of people talking, songs being sung, and the rhythms and repetitions of rhymes and stories, they’re setting the early foundations for language and literacy learning.
A common myth is that children begin their more significant learning journeys as they start primary school, but in fact, learning starts even before birth! This is why it is important to provide babies with the right support and stimulus as early as possible.
Bronwyn Thomson, Guardian Childcare & Education Curriculum Leader – and former early childhood and primary school teacher – says, “The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and a young child’s second birthday – is a window of unique opportunity when the developing child’s optimal health, growth and learning pathways are established.”
“Guardian Teachers and Educators have the knowledge and support to develop specific learning programs that engage your baby through these important first five years.
“High-quality childcare – with an educational focus – offers the building blocks for inspiring a love of learning for life.
“Nurturing children from as early as six weeks of age, we focus on encouraging babies and young children to develop their natural desire and abilities for inquiry, curiosity and creativity.”
“For example, did you know that when a baby is captured in the moment of watching a bubble float through the air, they are developing the visual tracking skills they will soon need to read?
“Babies are also developing early numeracy understandings. The baby who crawls into an empty box or washing basked as part of their play is exploring complex concepts of spatial awareness, size and shape.
“Everyday moments represent significant milestones in the learning journey of babies. Our qualified and experienced Nursery teams are skilled in understanding and supporting these early moments of learning, to help your baby grow every day.”
As experts in the field, Guardian Childcare & Education have outlined five ways in which babies learn from birth, and suggested ways families can encourage this.
Learning through the Senses
“Babies learn largely through their senses, using their eyes, ears, nose, hands and mouths as tools,” says Bronwyn.
“These ‘tools’ help them to discover the world around them, sparking their curiosities. From light and water play, encouraging babies to feel different textures, and
exposing them to different sounds and surroundings, your baby is broadening their mind and becoming a curious thinker.
“As babies grow, they learn to use their bodies to make discoveries, and at Guardian our Teachers and Educators encourage these discoveries by supporting babies to explore different environments and open-ended materials.
“Your child is constantly seeking to make sense of the world and to communicate by making noises, pointing, grabbing and more. Babies are hardwired from birth to reach out actively through relationship and experience to establish meaning from the world around them.”
Learning through Relationships
The close relationships that your baby has are incredibly formative. Your baby will learn from parents, family members and others who are close to them.
“Babies learn through secure relationships and will use these trusted relationships as anchor points from which they venture out. For instance, eye-contact, stretching their arms to be picked up, and actively seeking to be with family members are all pointers which signify that your child is learning through their relationships,” says Bronwyn.
“They are discovering how to socialise and communicate.” Learning about Themselves
Babies begin learning about their own identity from birth. There are simple identifiers which show parents how their child is doing this. They will respond to their own name through actively listening and smiling when being spoken to, using personal pronouns such as “I”, “mine” or using their own name, and even smiling and babbling away while looking at their own reflection.
“Babies learn so much about their own identities and sense of self through the care they are shown. Respectful and nurturing daily care rhythms, such as feeding, bathing and cuddling speak directly to babies about how much they are valued and loved,” says Bronwyn.
“Spending time playing with your baby, cuddling and talking with your baby shows them that they are respected and loved. Your baby actively exploring and playing, but then coming back to someone familiar for reassurance is a natural sign they feel loved and supported, while they simultaneously exploring their developing independence and a sense of self.”
Learning through Communication
As any parent can attest, babies are very effective communicators and use facial expressions, verbalisations, body language and movements to share their thoughts and feelings.
In fact, Bronwyn says, “Babies are highly sophisticated communicators and even very young babies will watch their favourite faces closely and begin to imitate speech sounds, mouth movements and the ‘turn-taking’ of conversation”.
Communicating with your baby is such an important activity to practice, and it can be as simple as playing a fun game of ‘peek-a-boo,’ or making funny sounds and faces for your child to imitate.
Learning through Trying
Like older children and adults, babies learn through trial and error. We try and try again.
“Babies are constantly researching, trying out and developing theories, being surprised or confirming their predictions based on their actions,” says Bronwyn. “As you observe your baby playing, you will see them exploring the properties of the materials and objects they are interacting with. It’s the reason why the wrapping paper of the presents you carefully choose can be more fascinating for your baby than the present itself. The paper crunches and changes shape with your baby’s movements. Babies can hide themselves or objects under the paper and explore the idea that something can still exist even when it cannot be seen – fascinating research for your curious and inquiring baby.”
“This is how key learning strategies and dispositions such as problem solving and resilience develops.”
Visit Guardian Childcare & Education to find out more about our world-class Curriculum or to book a tour at a centre near you.
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