Do you also think learning starts in grade 1?

A baby’s look at Emotional Intelligence
June 13, 2018
The Value of Stimulating Your Baby
July 13, 2018

By Dr Melodie de Jager

When most people think of learning, they think of books, school and… ‘boring!’. It is such a pity, because learning is the most exciting gift any child can receive. The gift of learning is cheaper than toys, and it lasts a lifetime!

Learning got a bad reputation, because so many children seem to battle to learn! Open any online newspaper or magazine and you see articles on sensory problems; dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, hyperactivity, medication and remedial classes.

Children battle to learn, due to a few factors:

  • They were still playful and not ready to learn from 2 dimensional books when they entered Grade 1.
  • They didn’t develop the necessary skills that precedes sitting still, reading and writing.
  • They are still attached to a bottle, dummy or nappy (at the age of 5 and older).
  • They didn’t learn to speak the school’s language of instruction properly, for at least 3 years, before entering Grade 1.
  • They did not draw often with a variety of materials, before they started writing.
  • They did not playfully learn to hear and recognize different sounds, before learning the sounds of the alphabet.
  • They did not reach their baby milestones, skipped milestones, or reached them out of sequence.
  • They lost a lot of ‘development time’ due to being confined to: a walking ring; a reclining chair in front of the TV; moms back for extended periods of time.
  • Parents are sometimes not aware that the brain goes through a phenomenal brain development growth spurt during the first 4 months of life. Thus, they do not optimize this magical window of opportunity.

Brand new research from the Netherlands indicates that a baby’s sensory experiences and muscle movements in the first four months (after birth), have the biggest impact on his or her mental development.

But before you run for the latest trend in child stimulation, relax. The BabyGym Institute in Johannesburg has found that it is easy (and fun!) to make the most of the first four months. Simply:

  • Massage your baby firmly and lovingly from head to toes – every day.
  • Ensure that baby is calm and relaxed before feeding.
  • Place baby on his/her tummy as often as possible, when baby is awake and under your watchful eye.
  • Encourage baby to move as much as possible. Remove anything that can restrict baby’s freedom of movement like clothing, straps, or equipment. Place baby flat on his/her tummy and back alternately, on the floor.
  • Encourage great feeding, metabolism and digestion with a few basic BabyGym exercises that ‘push the right buttons’.
  • Involve dad as much as possible. Dad’s ‘rough play’ is a natural brain booster.

Learning happens naturally when mom and dad make baby part of their everyday lives. Include baby when cooking and cleaning, washing the car, or icing cupcakes. When mom and dad include baby in their lives, they instinctively talk to baby while being fully aware that baby doesn’t yet understand a word, but that baby needs to hear language so that baby’s ear can ‘tune in to receive’ language. Learning comes easy when involved parents respond to their baby, toddler of child’s needs, and they do not pay as much attention to their wants.

Throughout the various ages – baby, toddler, preschooler, child, teen…  they all need the same things. More time, attention and interaction, and less toys and programs.

Follow the link for more information on BabyGym:


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