Parents often send their toddlers who are as young as 4 years old for enrichment classes due to various reasons. However, have you ever considered the impact of such classes on their long-term development?
The answer is in ‘magic trees’.
According to scientific research at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, ‘magic trees’ are the branches of the tree-like nerve cells in the brain, and are part of a vast, interconnected network. And these branches experience a very fast rate of growth during childhood. That is exactly what it is happening in your 4-year-old child’s brain.
Diamond, a former director of UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science says that we have to “catch the brain” when it experiences its fastest rate of growth and adds,
If you provide early enrichment while the brain is growing rapidly you can get larger changes than after it has reached its peak of growth.
Now that we are assured that early enrichment makes scientific sense and is not just a product of being a overly anxious parent, let us find out how different types of enrichment activities affect the development of our child.
One enrichment class that can have a large impact on our child’s development is reading. It creates connections in the brain that promote language development. Research on early childhood development points to how reading is the building block of literacy, and underscores how learning to read enables children to learn new words and concepts as well as complex grammar and text structures. Learning how to read typically starts with a phonics class and the follow-up reading programs for kids give the little ones a head start in their journey towards achieving high levels of language competencies.
Still in the literacy arena, closely related to reading, is writing. 4-year-olds are only learning how to write and it can be a laborious effort to get them to write letters neatly and form correct sentences. However, what is important is that the young one gets an opportunity to come up with his/her own ideas and see the ideas getting represented on paper. This aspect of creativity and production comes through better when children engage in creative writing classes. They then get motivated to learn how to write well so as to convey their ideas better. And needless to say, writing accelerates the child’s literacy development.
Besides literacy development classes, enrichment classes for 4-year-olds can also involve soft skills, skills that get more crucial as they become older. One enrichment class that can have a deep impact on young children’s development is arts-related classes. Music-related classes, dancing and drama workshops help the children over the long-term: they help to regulate the toddler’s emotions as well as teach them social skills. For example in drama workshops, the children learn role play, and this gives them an opportunity to put themselves into the shoes of another person, teaching them empathy. They also learn how to work together with others, and learning this early helps them hone their team building and leadership skills before they start formal schooling and helps them excel well into adulthood.
It may seem strange but the unsuspecting cooking classes can help with our child’s development too. With the MasterChef Junior series bombarding our television sets, we cannot help but watch with amazement at the dishes whipped up by the little hands. Grooming chefs aside, cooking provides the child with an awareness of one’s surroundings, emotional intelligence, multitasking capabilities and personal organisation. Besides, a cooking class such as MindChamps’ Gourmet Moments, which exposes children to different types of cooking practices around the world, allows the child to be aware of, understand and respect different cultural norms and practices. Such rich and deep understandings cannot be taught, only caught, through such enrichment classes, and go a long way.
We do not need to be pressurised by the many advertisements on preschool classes we see around us. We just have to remember that drill and enrichment are very different. Let us understand the difference and choose the right enrichment classes for our 4-year-olds.
To find out about the different enrichment classes for toddlers (Singapore) that are included in MindChamps PreSchool curriculum, book a customised tour with us today!