The four groups of people in a child’s life who make the most difference.

Woodside Energy
Thanks to our brand partner, Woodside Energy

When it came to my first day of school, I was prepared, I was ready, I absolutely could not wait. At kindergarten orientation, a teacher had assisted me with a highly complex task: making a glittery silver wand. From then on, I was completely convinced that going to school would be the most exciting experience ever.

In hindsight my mum tells me even she was shocked that I was so cool, calmed and collected about being apart from her and my family for an entire school day. I still remember being ushered into two lines by my lovely kindergarten teacher along with all the other five year olds as I stood there in my red uniform with a Minnie Mouse backpack almost as big as me.

Whether they're laughing or crying, kids are always copying each other. Image via Getty.

That's when a girl I remember from orientation caught my attention. She was not at all happy, big giant tears rolling down her red flushed cheeks as she held onto her mum's leg. She didn't want to her leave and she let it be known. Suddenly, within seconds, I was crying too. At the time I didn't know why, even my mum had said it wasn't until I was confronted with other kids crying that I myself began second guessing whether school was such a good idea after all.

And there it was, before I'd even stepped into a classroom I was having my first lesson. I was learning based on the reactions of my soon to be fellow classmates, to copy, one of the first skills you learn as a child. A skill I became all too familiar with when I began to teach kindergarten after becoming a primary school teacher myself.

You see it's proven that social interaction is an important part of a child's learning in their early years and whether your realise it or not, they usually come from all of the people around you.

Here are all of the ways those around you make your child smarter:

1. Parents.

Parents are obviously the first point of contact when it comes to educating children and undoubtedly have the biggest impact on their learning and development. Considering that most of a child's brain development occurs before they start school, it's a critical time for parents to imprint good learning habits from a young age.


From the second they are born, children are constantly learning: through your engagement with them, laughing with them, playing with them and even hugging them. That's right, holding and stroking a child stimulates hormones in their brain that allow them to grow.

2. Early learning educators and teachers.

In those first five years, they're learning all the time. Image: The Woodside Development Fund.

Aside from parents, early learning educators and teachers have the biggest impact on the learning outcomes for all children. In the early years they predominantly use play, singing, storytelling and reading to begin teaching children the cognitive building blocks they need to thrive when it comes to their education and beyond.

That's why early learning centres and other community initiatives go a long way to helping kids of all backgrounds reach their potential. In one positive example, The Woodside Development Fund, launched by Woodside Energy in 2014, is focused on projects that contribute to the education, health and well-being of children aged zero to eight. They make investments in programs like Family Connections at Goodstart Early Learning centres, helping vulnerable children, and Family Matters WA, which helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up in safe and supported communities.

When a child is able to reach their full potential, thanks to educational figures in their life, it helps create stronger communities all around. It really does take a village - more on that next.

3. Siblings and other family members.

Siblings have a huge impact on a child's learning as this is often how they develop their cognitive skills. Image via Getty.

Just like parents, other family members have a further impact on how children learn. Interacting socially improves the speed and accuracy of a child's learning and talking with them helps to develop their vocabulary from an early age. Siblings also have a huge influence on a child's learning as this is often how they develop their cognitive skills through shared play and stimulation from toys such as sight, sound and touch.

4. Friends.

Friends too have an important role to play as children learn how to develop relationships and respond to social cues around them. Making friends in and of itself is an important skill and as many would know seems to be easier the younger you are. As a primary school teacher you find students tend to band together around common interests, for example, they might both have the same favourite toy.

It really does take a village to raise a child and experiences like these are what help a child's brain develop, whether interacting with family members, friends, early learning educators or even those crying kindy kids standing alongside you.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner and West Australian Energy Company, Woodside.