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More than half of parents worry about early child ­development

A recent survey commissioned by Primrose Schools of 2,000 parents with children aged five years and younger found that 59% of parents are “deeply concerned” about their kids’ personal and academic development. The study was conducted by OnePoll for the franchise system of private preschools with more than 500 learning centers across 34 states.

Parents who participated in the survey worried most about their kids learning social skills. Fifty percent were concerned that their children learn fair play and cooperation, while 49% want them to communicate well with others. Children learning how to express themselves was a close third in their list of concerns.

98% of parents recognize that the first five years of life play a critical role in setting a child up for a successful future. However, parents still struggle despite their best efforts.

When asked to identify the most challenging parts of parenting, 38% of parents said, “creating a routine.” They also named other difficulties: how to plan activities for children, reinforce good behaviors, maintain a stable and consistent environment, and work to improve math and reading skills.

Nonetheless, beleaguered parents do not have to do it alone. Most parents rely on a network of people and institutions for support. Eighty-eight percent of parents count upon their immediate family for help, while 82% depend on their preschool.

Dr. Amy Jackson, former educator and Chief Early Learning Strategy Officer at Primrose Schools, emphasizes the importance of the early years in childhood development in a press release.

“Learning will never be this easy again,” explains Dr. Jackson. “The environment and experiences children have in their first five years will shape their academic, physical, and social-emotional development. These critical years form the foundation for learning and ultimately, who a child will become.”

The First Five Formative Years

Experts stress the significance of brain development processes in the first five years of life. Consider the exponential growth rate — a newborn’s brain doubles in size during their first year of life and nearly reaches full size by the time they enroll in kindergarten. The brain forms more than 1 million neural connections per second throughout this development period.

Early experiences contribute to the foundation for a future social and academic life. For parents, these years represent the best moment to foster the skills necessary to be a capable adult. Communication, problem-solving, and emotional self-regulation are some examples of soft skills indispensable for success. Because the brain loses some of its ability for new connections as a person ages, humans find it harder to acquire these traits as adults.

With the proper care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects neurotypical kids to achieve the following milestones by age 5:

Physical — doing up buttons on clothes and hopping on one foot.Cognitive — identifying some numbers and letters and understanding time.

Communication — telling a story, answering questions, and having a conversation.

Social — following rules, taking turns with playmates, and completing simple chores.

Children who suffer from parental neglect at a very young age are likely to develop issues that affect them as adults. They might lack emotional intelligence and social skills, thus impeding their ability to socialize on the playground. More extreme consequences include low self-esteem, behavior issues, addiction, depression, and other mental health problems.

Recommendations for ­Concerned Caregivers

Parents know their roles’ importance in their child’s development. “It’s clear that parents want their children to learn these important academic and character development skills while their brains are most receptive to learning, but we know many worry about finding the right approach,” remarks Dr. Jackson.

As a representative of Primrose Schools, Dr. Jackson promotes the school system’s preferred research-based curriculum that combines “purposeful play with nurturing guidance from trained teachers.”

Nevertheless, parents can rely on other avenues for help. “Families of all kinds can find great value in family therapy for different reasons,” says Anna Harris, Clinical Mental Health Counselor at OnlineMFTPrograms.com.

“These sessions can provide a dedicated time for parents to bond with their child and talk with them about important emotional and skill-development topics,” Harris advises. “With the guidance of a licensed professional, this kind of therapy can help parents learn how and when to help their kids with their development needs.”

Ashima Sahore, researcher and clinical psychologist, recommends worried parents or those feeling stressed and isolated reach out to local support networks. “Navigating early childhood development as a parent can feel overwhelming, but you’re not alone,” she says.

“Seek support from family, friends, and professionals when needed. Community resources like parenting workshops, libraries, and early childhood education centers can be invaluable,” Sahore endorses.

Parents can also combine playtime with learning opportunities. “Through play, children explore their world, learn to deal with emotions, solve problems, and build relationships, Sahore explains. “Encourage play that involves both thinking and physical activity.”

“While the concerns of parents regarding early child development are justified, there are numerous proactive steps that can be taken to positively shape the developmental trajectory of young children,” Sahore says. “Remember, every small, loving interaction with your child contributes to their growth.”

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This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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