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    Experts weigh in
    Marison R. Dy, Ph.D., a professor at the Department of Human Family Development Studies at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, says that the ages between zero and 18 months are a child’s formative years. The way babies learn about the environment is highly sensorial, she says, so parents should nurture these.

    Maricar Gustilo-de Ocampo, Ph.D., a child education expert and professor at the De La Salle University-Manila, affirms that babies and toddlers have their parents as their first teachers.

    Gustilo-de Ocampo adds, “The mushrooming of infant schools, baby gyms, and the like are all supposed to supplement the parent’s important role in child rearing.”

     

    A solid foundation
    The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers & Twos, a comprehensive teaching guide for children under 3 years by Diane Trister Dodge, Amy Laura Dombro, Sherrie Rudick, and Kai-Lee Berke, enumerates the following as the foundations for learning :

    1. Meeting the child’s basic need for food, clothing, and shelter
    2. Fostering social and emotional development
    3. Developing relationships
    4. Supporting cognitive and brain development .

     

    “We need to create a responsive environment to lay these foundations,” says Gustilo-de Ocampo.

     

    How play schools help
    Dy acknowledges that play schools can help in a child’s socialization, setting the stage for more formal learning later. However, she says, “Although play schools involve recreation and exercises with educational experiences, they are quite expensive. If the parents can afford it, why not? But, for me, it’s optional.”

     

    A word of caution
    “Baby gyms, infant schools, and the like are acceptable, but I believe that parents can also have their own play groups,” says Gustilo-de Ocampo. She suggests forming groups where four children, from 18 to 24 months old, and their parents can meet twice a week and interact together as an alternative to paid classes.

    Popular child psychologist David Elkind, Ph.D., author of The Hurried Child, Reinventing Childhood, and Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance, says that today’s parents have been “pushing” their children so much that they don’t have time to be children. Gustilo-de Ocampo says young kids have so many activities that studies show children as young as 5 years experiencing the “burnout” effects of over-crowded calendars. “In the Philippines, there have been public school daycares that help out working parents but still, the parents are the ones who are in control,” she adds.

    Play is a vital part of childhood, not only giving children essential developmental benefits, but also providing parents opportunities to interact with their kids. Whether in the comfort of their home or within a play school environment, the most important thing is for parents to find time to play with their children—and experience together what living and learning is all about.

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    SOURCES:

    • Marison R. Dy, Ph.D., professor, Department of Human Family Development Studies, University of the Philippines Los Baños
    • Maricar Gustilo-de Ocampo, Ph.D., professor, De La Salle University
    • The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos by Diane Trister Dodge, Sherrie Rudick, and Kai-lee Berke, 2006
    • Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk by David Elkind, 1987
    • The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind, 2001

     

    Photography by David Hanson Ong

     

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