Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

The first kindergarten was established in the 1800s by Freidrich Froebel in Germany to help impoverished children prepare for school. By the mid-1800s, there were at least two known kindergartens (in Virginia and Wisconsin) in the United States. Kindergarten was, basically, the first form of early intervention for academic success ever created.

Things have certainly changed in the last couple of centuries; in most school systems in the U.S., children now have to take a placement test in order to get into kindergarten and avoid placement in a “begindergarten” or pre-kindergarten program. Children coming into kindergarten are now expected to have some basic academic knowledge before they even start school, and for those who are not ready, early intervention for academic success now comes in the form of universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) and preschool.

Are we pushing our children to do too much too soon? Probably not. Over the last 200 years, we have simply learned more about human cognitive ability. We know more about how the brain works; educators, parents, and scientific researchers are all realizing that a lot of what determines the academic success of our children is probably determined while they are still toddlers.

Early intervention does not necessarily mean sending your child off to preschool or UPK, although those can be excellent choices for working parents. If you want your child to be academically successful, (children who are successful academically are also healthier, happier, and have higher self-esteems – it’s really not about the grades) I believe the approach should be less “intervention” and more lifestyle.

Reading to your infant, playing classical music, teaching your baby basic sign language, exposing young children to music and playing musical instruments … these are all forms of early intervention for academic success.  Actively parenting your child, avoiding overexposure to television and video games, and providing a safe and healthy environment for your child also contribute to their overall success. Help your child be physically active (also crucial to brain development) and focus on eating healthy foods.

MomsGetReal tips for an awesome start:

  • Feed your child’s curiosity!
  • Teach balance in all things
  • Disconnect and spend quality time with your kids
  • Read to your kids from the day they are born (or sooner)
  • Make books readily available to your kids (even before they are reading independently)
  • Expose your kids to different places, languages, ideas, and cultures
  • Encourage your kids to ask questions, think critically, and explore