Research shows that a child’s learning and intellectual achievement before starting school is far greater when their parent is involved.
Parents can have a say in the early education their child receives at an early childhood service, their child's experiences and care.
The quality of relationships a child has with others is important. Who cares for your child and which ECE service your child goes to matters a lot less than how good the relationships are between you and your child, the other people who are caring for your child, and between other children and your child.
When you ask older children what they remember about their preschool or childcare experience they usually mention a teacher, a friend(s) they played with, and experiences that were either pleasurable or hurtful.
What you can do
It is not hard to give a child a strong foundation for learning.
When dropping off or picking your child up from an early childhood service spend some time (even 30 minutes can make a difference) each week engaging in a joint activity with your child. It can be any activity or there might be something that your child wants to show you. Get involved and show interest and contribute. If you feel that playing with your child with others maybe watching is difficult, ask a teacher or a person in charge at the service for a task they think you could help with and that your child could too.
At home, provide your child with a range of different experiences and hands-on activities and participate in these with your child. For example some of the 30 experiences listed in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Child Study questionnaire believed to contribute to and reflect the cognitive development of children included: a bus ride, having been on a horse, visited a museum, and having been to a sports event. Listed activities included: having played in huts, swum or paddled in a pool, played with a pet, climbed trees or fences, and picked or planted flowers.
Search out information on child development, what children around your child’s age are like and can usually do and strategies and ideas for supporting your child to achieve more and develop further skills, knowledge, and interests.
Meet with other parents, go to a playgroup or seek out other opportunities to observe your child interacting and playing with other children and adults.
Parent education opportunities
More formal knowledge of child development theory and practical teaching skills can be obtained by enrolling your child at a Playcentre and undertaking the training offered (read more about Playcentre by clicking here), or taking your infant to a SPACE programme.
If you are using any type of early childhood education service ask if it offers the highly regarded and research based Early Reading Together® group programme which helps parents of young children (babies to 5 and 6 year-olds) to provide informed support for their child’s language and literacy development at home (to read more about the programme click here).
Parent education programmes that can come to you at home are:
Search and find early childhood services recommended by parents in your area