The importance of parental involvement during these formative years cannot be overemphasized. The right early years can influence a child’s growth, development and life course for the better, regardless of their socioeconomic background or circumstances.
In the UK, some children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds start school 4.5 months behind everyone else and leave school at the age of 18, a staggering 18.1 months of learning behind their more disadvantaged peers.
That’s why the Social Mobility Commission is launching its new campaign, It’s Child’s Play, to show parents how important they are and how quick, easy and rewarding it can be to create space for everyday learning moments with their children. The first wave of our campaign launches in Middlesbrough and Great Yarmouth this month, offering parents ideas for small conversations, games and learning activities. It will be expanded to Blackpool in January.
As part of the campaign, we will cover bus stops with colorful interactive posters with fun activities like “Counting Frogs,” “Solving the Maze,” and “Imitating Animal Sounds.” We will also mail materials directly to parents in the area and post them on social media.
We want to emphasize this again Before When a baby is born, their brains are primed for learning – absorbing information from their environment like sponges.
Simple chats can help children learn words, understand things faster and support their emotional development. Parents can encourage this by recounting their actions in everyday life: “I’m going shopping,” “I’m making tea.”
Even involving kids in silly games like “What sound does a cow make?” or “Let’s do a funky chicken dance” can help!
Reading is another powerful tool that parents can use to prepare their children for school. When parents read to their young children, they are introducing them to a world full of words, ideas, and stories. The benefits of reading go beyond language development and also extend to listening skills, attention span, and love of learning. These skills are the cornerstones of success in school.
The good news is that parents don’t have to pick up long, complicated books to reap these benefits. In fact, it can be helpful to read anything—the back of a cereal box, an excerpt from a magazine, or any words that happen to be nearby.
The game is also crucial. Its educational value is often underestimated, but a study commissioned by the SMC shows that “guided play” – where a parent plays with Your child – can improve a child’s understanding of things like shapes and names compared to children playing alone.
By playing with their families, children develop essential skills such as problem solving, creativity and social interaction. Whether it’s building blocks, playing characters, or exploring nature, playtime is essential.
However, it is difficult to ensure that parents are aware of the power they have to advance their child’s future. Home and family life is rightfully private, and pushing tired, overworked parents to do more and more can come across as condescending, “parent-shaming,” or simply tone-deaf, especially in today’s difficult economic climate.
But parents and families actually make a huge difference to a child’s potential. I owe every success I have had in my life to the way my parents took care of me and supported me in my studies.
My own schooling wasn’t the best, but my determination to do well came from the encouragement of my mother and father. So I know how powerful parents can be.
Before I started school, my mother ran the local laundromat (among other jobs she could do while taking care of me and my brother), and I still remember how we would change the colors of the clothes in each load of laundry counted and recited. (I enjoyed it so much that I even started singing and dancing over the laundry to entertain those watching!)
And I will always cherish my father singing the words from the page of a BoBo Bunny yearbook out loud with me every night before bed after a long and tiring day at a construction site.
It was her example of doing her best and doing her best, along with her love, that gave me a confidence far beyond what one would expect from someone from my homeland.
As a society, we should ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive academically and emotionally. By reminding every parent how much they can influence their child’s development, we help the next generation make the most of what life has to offer.
- The Rt Hon Baroness Stowell of Beeston MBE, Commissioner of the Social Mobility Commission.
To learn more about the It’s Child’s Play campaign, click here Here.