by KATE BUTLER.
Before my daughter (now 2 months old) was born, my partner and I read everything we could get our hands on so that we would know what to expect before, at and after the birth… what we needed to do in taking our baby home, how to care for and provide for our child. We wanted to be informed and ‘ready’ for anything.
Now, two months later, baby daughter in arms (or baby capsule actually) I have just talked with a good friend who (sadly for her) mentioned the importance of the first 5 years – and something called brain research.
I am afraid I lost it at this point and confess to be slightly disappointed that I hadn’t heard about this ‘big idea’ before…. Our baby was a long awaited and much anticipated addition to our relationship– we officially became a family! Now, having experienced what it means to not sleep at night, become knowledgeable about nappy brands and be able to have in depth conversations about the pros and cons of purchasing said brands– there is ‘another thing to worry about on the horizon.
Another cup of coffee and some reassurance along the way and I felt slightly more positive. OK, onwards and upwards I say. So my partner will just have to start a new research plan – finding out what this brain research is all about. We will not be stopped in our goal of conquering all barriers to our goal of being good parents.
Much to my surprise, delight and every other good word I can think of…the early stimulation talked about in the brain research does NOT mean early academic pressure. It refers instead to the learning that happens when children engage in rich play with people who matter to them (of which I am one – the parent, the extended family and others with a lot of contact with her).
Delving deeper –my curiousity piqued…. so what does rich play look like?
It is about ‘sensory stimulation’ (being rocked and sung to; playing with water and natural materials (including mud and sand); listening, tasting, hearing, and smelling different items…. In fact, play holds all the early stimulation that a child needs to develop holistically (that is children’s physical, social, and thinking capacities, including language development).