Children need love and attention, especially during their early childhood years—it shapes their self-image, as well as how they identify with their identity with their surroundings. Childhood development involves several stages, and children go through them at different ages. This is why it’s so important to choose the right preschool for your child.
Birth to One Year
Babies seek comfort during the first six months and rely heavily on adults for all their needs. They pay attention to faces, like bright colours, and show emotion through a smile or a cry.
After about six months, babies also realize that their hands and feet are part of their body, and begin to use them. It is key to keep small objects out of their reach! During this stage, babies need constant care, attention, and someone to play with and to encourage their vocal instincts as well as optimize the learning they get from their surroundings.
Depending on the pace of your baby’s growth, he/she may try to walk after eight months or so. They’ll even begin to understand when you call their name and pick up other verbal cues. Your baby will likely say his/her first words at this point (even if it’s not very coherent), so it’s definitely a special time.
One to Two Years
Your toddler can do a lot more once he/she crosses the one year mark. At this point, they’re aware of their own behaviour as well as their surroundings. They can stand up, walk, and run; they can say a few words and understand quite a bit when you speak to them, enjoy stories and playtime, and can connect with others toddlers. Toddlers also like to involve themselves with activities in the home, and they feel proud of their accomplishments, however small. Toys have an active role in how they spend their time during this stage and the right toys and activities support their growth and development.
Two to Three Years
Ever heard of the “terrible twos?” This is when your toddler goes through immense emotional, intellectual, and social development—he/she forms a definite personality. Your child enjoys exploration and learning new things, can lock/unlock doors (so pay attention to child safety), engage in active play, and develop more independence. Your child can probably do small tasks on his/her own such as brushing teeth, washing hands and attempt to wear their shoes.
Three to Four Years
Your child grows so quickly! During this period, your child is definitely ready for a school experience, has developed a unique personality, made friendships/emotional connections, and can be quite expressive. A lot of learning occurs during this stage, and you can help your child develop simple habits and strong communication skills—it’ll stick. They are very curious about their environment and ask a lot of questions at this time, so it’s important to be prepared and patient to guide them through this stage.
Four to Five Years
From four years onwards, your child will continue to grow at his/her own unique pace. They have a longer attention span, a developing memory, and begin to act a little independent. It’s a crucial period, and they learn about sharing and begin to understand the impact of their behaviour.
Every age involves the development of specific skills, and your choice of education can significantly impact your child’s growth. The two leading options for parents are Montessori schools and academic preschools.
Montessori schools provide a child-centred learning environment, where the emphasis is placed on student-directed experiences, so the classrooms consist of mixed ages. Students are encouraged to be curious, explore and discover their potential through challenging experiences. Academic preschools not only focus on project and experience-based learning, but also school-readiness. They also focus on the emotional and social development of each child through programs related to the arts, advanced programming and toastmasters program. The curriculum introduces children to several subjects such as math, reading, writing, science, and nature, while always providing healthy time for free play. Classes are organized by age group, to ensure the unique development of each stage of growth is respected.
Academics Pre-Kindergarten, a group of preschools in the Vancouver area, offers programs for different age groups:
10 months – 2 years (infants)
2 – 3 years (toddlers)
3 – 4 years (preK2)
4 – 5 years (preK3)
The schools have a learning-led education model: Academics Edge, for different age groups, specific to each development stage. An environment that stimulates your child’s senses and promotes learning opportunities can greatly impact their growth. Choosing the right preschool is key.