The Power of Experience in Early Childhood

As this is the first blog of many, I often wonder about the use of crowns in pretend play. When you were a little, you often played as if you were a princess or prince and the world was your oyster. With a tap of wand or nod of a crown, your wish was your command. By picking up an old briefcase or doctor’s stethoscope, you were exposed to a glimpse of a possible future. What you were exposed to was sometimes different that what your friends’ were. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and through an educational lens, we call that experience.

Not only is it critical to provide different experiences to children, but during early childhood, this is the time when the foundation of social skills begins.

Dr. Patricia Kuhl is the leading researcher on children’s brain and, as the co-director of Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences at The University of Washington, she talks about the importance of experience. She argues that opportunities of all kind must be readily available for children to maximize the unique learning abilities that their brains permit. In other words, exposure is the key to increasing your child’s cognitive development.

It does fall back on our shoulders not just as parents, but members of society, to determine what kind of experiences we want to have readily available. Although it’s often easier to give them some pretend clothes and let them play in the background while we get on with life, remember that it’s not just what they are doing that is important but how they are actively engaged in the experience that will reap the benefits of their cognitive development.

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