Es­sen­tial skills take root early

Yuma Sun - Raising Yuma Families - - WHAT’S INSIDE... - BY: FIRST THINGS FIRST

Are­cent study sug­gests that the non-aca­demic skills that kids learn when they’re ba­bies, tod­dlers and preschool­ers can have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on them when they’re in their teen years.

These so­cial-emo­tional skills, such as self­con­trol, us­ing mem­ory to make con­nec­tions be­tween ideas and the abil­ity to think cre­atively, also called ex­ec­u­tive func­tion, are best de­vel­oped in early child­hood.

The re­search out of New York Uni­ver­sity ex­am­ined the long-term im­pacts of a high­qual­ity early child­hood pro­gram in Chicago and found “ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing that the pro­gram pos­i­tively af­fected chil­dren’s ex­ec­u­tive func­tion and aca­demic achieve­ment dur­ing ado­les­cence.”

Im­por­tant so­cial and be­hav­ioral skills, such as mo­ti­va­tion, self-dis­ci­pline, fo­cus and self-es­teem be­gin to take root from birth to age 5. Suc­cess­ful peo­ple share these traits and fam­i­lies play a large role in help­ing de­velop the tools chil­dren need to learn these es­sen­tial life skills.

First Things First encourages fam­i­lies of young chil­dren to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of so­cial-emo­tional skills by pro­vid­ing pos­i­tive, nur­tur­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween their young child and the adults in their lives.

Fam­i­lies can look for mo­ments that com­bine aca­demic learn­ing with so­cial learn­ing. For ex­am­ple, help­ing a child rec­og­nize his emo­tions can also be a les­son on learn­ing new words. Or us­ing a book to talk about self-re­flec­tion or em­pa­thy encourages a con­ver­sa­tion in the same way a book about a ship in the ocean might en­cour­age a con­ver­sa­tion about the char­ac­ters’ feel­ings.

Es­tab­lish­ing good com­mu­ni­ca­tion when they are young, will cre­ate a good par­ent/child re­la­tion­ship as they grow into teenagers and young adults. En­cour­age them to help you pre­pare food, and chat as you do so, give you a bit of time to talk with­out pres­sure. Fam­ily meal­times are also a good way to make sure that ev­ery­one is com­ing to­gether on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Set­ting young chil­dren on the path to pos­i­tive so­cial and emo­tional de­vel­op­ment is one part of the keys to suc­cess later in life. Chil­dren who are healthy and pre­pared when they en­ter kinder­garten do bet­ter in school and are more likely to grad­u­ate and en­roll in col­lege. Welle­d­u­cated adults are more pre­pared for the job op­por­tu­ni­ties of a global mar­ket­place and to con­trib­ute to the strength of their com­mu­ni­ties.

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