Early Childhood Development
The Play Years
Nutrition, Sickness, and Injuries
- boys are 1.5 times more likely to obtain injury than girls
- overactive, agressive, and inattentive children are more likely to obtain injury
- children living in poverty
- children living with a single parent
- societal conditions
- shortages of high-quality child care
Ways to Prevent Injury:
- laws (seat belts, car seats, child-proof caps on medicine, fenced swimming pools)
- playgrounds with protective surfaces
- window guards and electrical outlet blockers
- REINFORCE safety practices and rules with your child!
Nutrition is of course an important role of everyday life for your child. It gives the proper substances to support their energy needs and keep them focused and growing everyday. Many parents worry when their child reaches preschool age because the child's appetite seems to decrease, don't worry! This is normal. At this age the body is no longer growing as rapidly, therefore your child does not need to eat as much. Also if your child eats one small meal for lunch, they are probably going to make up for it and eat more at supper.
Some ways to keep up and make sure your child is getting a proper diet:
- remember a child's diet is as demanding as a grown up when it comes to essentials, just a smaller proportion
- start healthy eating habits early, it will help them in the long run
- snack healthy, stay active, and eat well balanced meals
- be sure to have a diet including iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C - these are among the most common deficiencies in preschool-aged children
Immunizations are an important part of keeping your child safe from disease. The United States has one of the highest percentages of preschool aged children without vaccinations, meaning there is a greater risk of both catching and spreading disease. This is why it is very important to make sure your child is protected from that by getting them. They can be administered at health clinics, but are mainly given at the child's primary care physician's offices.
Preschool, Child Care and Peer Relations
Direct parental influences such as arranging play dates with other children, will help your child by building larger peer networks, as well as improving their social skills. It is shown that parent's suggesting their children how to approach play dates and resolve conflict are related to preschool aged children's social competence and peer acceptance.
Indirect parental influences include thing such as parent-child play and "getting on the child's level". The interaction between a child and their parent is important because studies show that children who have a secure attachment have better peer interaction, larger peer networks, and more supportive friendships. By building this relationship early on you are not only allowing the child to play with you and have fun, but you are helping them build social skills that will last them a lifetime.
Exposing your child to other children and improving their social skills is going to be important, and really help them out if you decide to put them into preschool or daycare. Going into either of these already having some pre notion of what is right and wrong and knowing how to interact with other children will allow your child to have a better time and spend the time that would have been on learning these skills, on other skills.
The number of children that are enrolled in child care or preschool in the United States is currently more than 60%. Most of the children that are enrolled are between 2-6 years old, as opposed to infants due to the rise in maternal employment. Preschool is designed with intention for education and enhancement of developmental skills, whereas child care is more of just supervision of a child. It is shown in two-decade long research that there are long-term benefits of enrolling your child in preschool such as higher IQ and achievement in the first years of elementary school. Even if you do not need a "baby-sitter" it can still be good to expose your child to these experiences, as well as give yourself a small break too.
What make-believe can do for your child:
- contributes to cognitive and social skills
- longer and better peer interactions
- more involvement
- more socially competent
- strengthens attention, memory, reasoning, and literacy skills
If your child is playing make-believe, it is good to encourage it instead of telling them that it's not real. It is part of the developmental process and can help them out in many ways. Pretending with them can develop a good bond between the child and parent which can also contribute to great developmental milestones, so play along!
Early Childhood Education, Journal. Jan2010, Vol. 37 Issue 4, p249-259. 11p.
Development Through the Lifespan, Berk, Laura E., 5th ed.