In the wake of delin
quency among the youth, serious minds are considering what best to do to be able to catch these youthful minds earlier than they could be susceptible to the prevalent mind of vices hunting the societal air.
This no doubt must have informed the inclusion of early childhood education into the Universal Basic Education programme of the Nigerian government. By the provision of the National Policy on Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, early childhood is segmented into 0 – 3 years situated in day care centres fully in the hands of the private sector and social development services while ages 3 – 5 are within the formal educational sector.
It is all about the care, protection, stimulation and learning promoted in children from age 0-5 , supposedly to take place in day care centre, nursery or kindergarten
However, whether done formally in a daycare centre or informally at home, one outstanding goal of this early childhood education is to inculcate in the child, social and moral norms as well as stimulate in him/her good habits, including good health habit among others.
The goals of the early childhood education make it imperative on parents and care providers to consider it a project and so, a serious business which result must be announced someday some time.
Unfortunately, not many parents know that this formative age of the child means a great deal in his/her future development, not many also realise the fact that children at this age remember fastly and repeat actions they observe so as to be wary of their actions before them. While the first two years of a child’s life are spent in the creation of the child’s first “sense of self”. Parents can be seen as the child’s first teacher and therefore an integral part of the early learning process because this age can be highly influential to whatever the child learns in future.
It must be understood that with proper guidance and exploration children get easily acquainted with their environment and ofcourse you can imagine how detrimental the absence of this steady positive relationship will be on the future development of the child with respect to his/her relationships and independence.
Although early childhood education often focuses on learning through play, Jean piaget, an early psychologists posits that play meets the physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social needs of children, their curiosity and imagination naturally evork learning when undisturbed.
Suffice it to say that children learn better and gain more knowledge through activities such as dramatic play, art and social games. However, the object of the child’s play, the toys and the type of game the child is involved in must not be overlooked as they all inform what knowledge the child equips him/herself with at the end of the day. What this means is that there must be adequate supervision of the child’s daily activities.
The Tide’s Women’s Desk, engaged Mrs Nzokurum Mercy, an occupational health/nursing coordinator in a chat on what should be the role of parents in ensuring a proper development of the child. Hear her: “From 0 – 1 year, the world is strange to the child, the first duty of the parents is to make him see the world as a friendly and happy place to live by meeting his perceived needs. Few months older the child’s personality developments and mind very fast too, so parents need to be cautious so as to understand and guide him aright.
She warned against pretentious attitudes towards the child as the child copies every behaviour of the adult to mean the right altitude, in her words. “If there be any need for parents to walk away from the child, then bid the child a proper goodbye, don’t sneak or slip away”.
Mrs Nzokurum explained that until about age 2, the child learns mainly through seeing, hearing and touching, hence parents must be careful to do just what they would want the child to do, say what they need him/her to hear and show them only what they would want them see.
Explaining play as a means by which children discover their skills, the occupational health expert enjoins parents to make out time to guide their little ones, play by creating a conducive and safe environment for effective exploration of their world, maintaining that toys must be age appropriate while observing their activities to know when they derail so they can be guided.
She condemned in its entirety, the idea of sending children of age 0-5 out for holidays or to live outside the sight of their biological parents, stating that many had been corrupt and abused under the guise of living with uncles and aunties as no one can be more vigilant on a child as the biological parent.
She called on parents to watch out for peculiar and worrisome traits, behaviours and attachments usually exhibited by children at this age such as identifying with certain toys, bullying other children and inventing imaginary friends as well as talking about them; she insists that parents listen to them and guide them accordingly.
Parental role to the family is a combination of many activities, expected of the father and the mother for the wellbeing of the home. It ranges from providing protection from the scourge of the weather, by way of shelter, provision of material needs in the forms of clothings and food, provision of medical attention, to provision of education, be it formal or informal. Of all these activities both mentioned and unmentioned, there is no single one that is preferred over the other, a child provided with one without the rest is said to be deficient in the one not provided.
Unfortunately, a failure to provide a child with a necessary developmental requirement does not only leave the child deficient of the good that comes out of it, such vacuum in the life of a child is usually replaced with a trait, unbecoming of a future leader.
Therefore, while it is expected that every parent lives up to their roles and responsibilities in assuring a bright and better future for the child, it is as well important that their daily life activities reflect the image they want to imprint in their children and wards.