The preschool age - 3-5 years - is a crucial phase in the emotional and cognitive development of a child. This is the period when they take the first baby steps, as it were, in the real world. Tactile sensations, sensory stimuli, experiences with their peers at school and at playgrounds rapidly expand their intellectual horizons and aid them in their understanding of the world around them.
Given this perspective it's crucial for parents to adequately support them, and most importantly, set the right examples in order to lay the foundations for their life ahead.
In this context, it's impossible to overstate the importance of the old adage that "Example is better than precept". In other words, actions speak louder than words. Children of all ages rapidly absorb and assimilate the example set by their parents.
The parent of a pre-schooler needs to take care of several things in order to help her child grow. The most important of these would be to provide an environment where the child feels happy, secure and cared for, while taking care not to mollycoddle the child excessively. An established routine, a peaceful, fun, secure and loving atmosphere at home would go a long way into the making of an emotionally secure and confident child. Also, the child should be encouraged to start thinking independently and make her own choices in simple matters such as deciding what to play and what to wear.
The parent should take care to ensure that her child has adequate sleep and physical activities. Sleep is important for cognitive development. And physical activities are necessary for good health. In addition, a critical factor would be to ensure a healthy diet as far as quantity and quality of food is concerned.
Junk food should be STRICTLY DISCOURAGED, as a number of health problems among children and infants can be attributed to unhealthy eating. Health problems these days start from childhood and include obesity and liver problems among others. The proliferation of high-fat, high sugar, high carbohydrate food loaded with salt, preservatives, artificial flavours and chemical colours is one of the biggest health hazards that today's children and infants face.
Another important thing to take care of is the child's emotional stability. Boundaries of acceptable behaviour must be established early enough to make a lasting impact. This includes establishing discipline, not giving in to tantrums, encouraging but not mollycoddling. It's also important to provide emotional support to develop resilience in case of setbacks - which will invariably occur in life. And it's extremely important to set correct examples, by how the parents conduct themselves in real life.
The parents must also ensure that they interact enough with their children, give them enough time. Quality time to help them with homework or other creative activities, playing with them, telling stories, taking them out for a walk, demonstrating affection - these are absolutely essential for children's emotional and brain development. Two-way communication is important, the child must be heard too. They should be encouraged to express themselves, without indulging in temper tantrums.
Human beings being social creatures, it's important for the child to not grow up in isolation. Pre-schoolers should be encouraged to play and interact with their age-group peers and also with siblings and other older children. And they should also be encouraged to share, develop empathy for others as part of the value system inculcated.
Last, but not the least, among the things to be discouraged is excessive screen time, whether through television or mobile phones or tabs. Children should instead be encouraged to read or participate in other activities such as drawing, singing, some other hobby or even playing. We at Adhira International School believes that keeping the children actively, creatively engaged is essential for their cognitive development as opposed to passively consuming content.
So the parent of today must be actively engaged, an example-setter and a stakeholder in her child's development.