Opportunities for early learning

Children do not start to learn only when they begin kindergarten or pre-primary classes at the age of 3 or 4, and are taught colours, shapes and letters. Rather, learning is a built-in mechanism for human beings, ensuring our successful adaptation to changing circumstances. It begins at conception, initially as a biological mechanism called epigenesis.

In the earliest years, we acquire skills and capacities interpersonally, in relationship with other people, through smiling and eye contact, talking and singing, modelling, imitation and simple games, like “wave bye-bye”.

Playing with common household items – like tin cups, empty containers, and cooking pots – can help a child learn about objects’ feel and quality, and what can be done with them. Even a busy caregiver can be given the motivation and confidence to talk with a child during feeding, bathing, and other routine household tasks.

These interactions help the child learn about other people. Children need affectionate and secure caregiving from adults in a family environment, with guidance in daily activities and relationships with others. This gives young children their important early experiences of social learning.