The importance of the first few years of a child’s life is obvious. Play is how a baby learns. If our children haven’t had those early experiences, they can struggle. But introducing more play and concentrating on certain areas can help them to gain those vital skills. It’s never too late to introduce learning through play.
Today’s article is about how the Oliiki app can help you learn to help and support your child through play. You can find out more about Oliiki on their website, Instagram, Facebook, the App Store and Google Play
My name is Clare Stead and I’m the creator and founder of Oliiki, the little learning app with a big impact. I’m a mum of three now bigger children and am passionate about helping parents and their children start out on their journey together as confidently as possible. I’ve dedicated the last three years to creating the Oliiki first 1000 days app, to help parents on a daily basis build their parenting confidence through simple play and learning activities.
The App helps parents to help their children reach their full potential. It gives parents a better understanding of the learning their little one is getting out of everyday play. And it builds their confidence by knowing they’re doing the right things. It helps to create foundations for children so that they start out on their learning journey with the right skills, knowledge and understanding so that they can arrive at school and fly!
According to the National Children’s Bureau in the UK,
“Parents who engage in meaningful activities that encourage thinking and talking as part of everyday life, can enhance their child’s development significantly”. They go on to say, “A child’s home, family, and community environment is a place where lots of learning takes place during those early years.”
Most of us imagine that a newborn baby is mainly concerned with sleeping and feeding – and this is true. But, their brains are ready for learning and are primed for extraordinary growth over the next three years. Here are a few things you may not have considered.
- A baby’s brain is only 25% developed at birth
A baby’s brain is not fully developed at birth. The most rapid stage of development is from conception until about the age of 3, by which stage it will be 80-90% developed. This is not to say that our brains don’t continue to learn and develop. This process hopefully continues throughout the whole of life. Your baby’s learning potential is huge and their brain is going to develop in response to the experiences they have and the environment in which they live.
- Your baby’s brain development will be affected by experience and interaction
At birth a baby’s brain will have the majority of the neurons that it will need for life. These neurons need to make connections with other neurons in order for thought processes and actions to develop. The quality of interactions and experiences of a young baby will affect the strength of these connections.
It’s this process of making connections and getting rid of unnecessary connections (pruning) which lays the foundation for the rest of lifelong learning and development. This means that what a baby experiences, see, hears and feels will be laying the foundation for the structure of their brain.
- Your baby learns through play
When you play with your baby, you are actually speaking their language. Through play, they are able to explore the world, discover new things, consolidate things they have seen before and act out things they have yet to experience. You’re interacting on their level and in their way.
It’s an extremely powerful way to communicate with your baby. Let them lead the play interaction. They will show you what they want to focus on. This will help their learning. Let them also play alone. This is where they are honing their skills.
- What your baby experiences over the next two years will help them prepare for learning and for school
Babies seem so small and helpless, but their experiences are actually preparing them for learning and for school life. Unfortunately, many children enter school who are not ready for this experience. This has a detrimental effect on their learning and their future development.
Research has shown that children who have more of the skills to be school-ready, start to learn more quickly once they are at school and will perform better academically. This stands to reason really. They won’t have to spend their time and energy learning the basics. They’ll be ready straight away to understand the more complicated stuff.
School readiness refers to all the different things that will help a child to be ready for entering a more formal school setting – practically, emotionally and educationally.
It’s important to remember though that all children come into school or nursery at different points on this range of skills. No child is going to tick all the boxes, so don’t panic. But there are good reasons to work towards these skills…
- Work towards these skills
Clearly, it’s fruitless to try and encourage a newborn baby to hold a pencil or use the toilet independently. These skills take time to acquire. But, the time to start is now. Because what you do today, lays the foundations for tomorrow’s new skills.
How you talk, play, read and interact with your baby all will determine how your baby arrives at school and influence their future life outcomes. Don’t worry, this sounds really daunting, but inside the Oliiki first 1000 days app, we show you how to become the parent your child needs to thrive.
What you do and how you do it will be preparing their brain for learning. But it’s not about complex activities that take hours to set up and require 40000 resources before you can do them. It’s about the simple ideas and you understanding the learning that your child is getting from the play you’re doing so that you can help them build the skills they need to develop and fly.
- Understanding the WHY you are doing the play is fundamental
That’s why, here at Oliiki, we’ve done the thinking for you. We have created a really simple to use app that’s been written by teachers, education researchers, and mothers. It not only gives you simple play activities to do daily with your baby or toddler. It tells you why you’re doing it.
The app also shows you the area of the brain and learning you have developed by doing it. When you understand what your baby is gaining from the activity, you’re more in control. You feel more confident, valued and useful. You also feel more engaged in the activity and you understand the purpose.
So you can see that play IS learning. Play is vital to your child’s development and life outcomes. The more you understand about what your child is gaining from their play, the better the life outcomes are for your child. Oliiki is here to hold your hand and show you the way.
Creator and Founder, Oliiki the little learning app with a big impact