Ensuring Holistic Child Development
Updated: Oct 4
It is said that a child’s formative years are from 0 - 8 years old. This is a period where a child experiences rapid cognitive and physical growth. The formative years are important as a child’s experiences during this period can greatly influence his or her learning capabilities and behavioural traits in the future.
As such, this article serves as a guide on ensuring a holistic development for your child during his or her formative years.
It will provide key insights on how to maximize your child’s welfare and happiness in the areas of learning, health and wellness and mental health.
1.1 Learning for Infants (1 month - a year old)
Learning for infants primarily revolve around sensory and motor skills development. This refers to the process where an infant starts to learn and discover about the world around him.
Specifically, sensory skills refer to the ability of a child to start exploring and using his or her five senses - these include sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
On the other hand, motor skills is where a child starts to learn how to coordinate body parts, major muscle groups, muscle strength, as well as his or her body position and posture. (Pediatric Boulevard, 2017)
The proper development of sensory and motor skills is crucial for a child’s healthy growth and academic learning and there are many fun activities that you can get your child to engage in in order to sharpen their sensory and motor skills. These include:
❖ Playing catch with different objects of varying size, shape, colour and texture - such as stuffed toys, small balls, balloons or safe plastic toys
❖ Exposure to nature and greenery - allowing them to visually explore the surroundings and have an opportunity to touch and feel flowers, fruits, leaves or grass.
❖ Engaging in hands on activities - such as molding play dough, playing with sand boxes or sand at the beach or even petting small animals
At Nurture Infant House, our infant care in Tampines, we organize a wide variety of enriching activities held in a safe environment to help infants achieve a smooth development of sensory and motor skills. These include: playing sessions with educational toys, ball pit playing sessions and walking practice sessions by our trained teachers
1.2 Learning for Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)
1.2.1 Communication Skills
Between the age of 1 to 2 years old, a child has reached the toddler stage. This is where he or she starts picking up communication skills.
These skills relate to using spoken words (language), body language and sign language to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings.
The proper development of a child’s communication skills from a young age is crucial as it can significantly impact their confidence in speech, clarity of articulation and ability to cope in social settings in the future.
As such, there are a list of activities that are useful in helping toddlers sharpen their communication skills. These include:
❖ Reading together: You can accompany your child in reading different things, such as
nursery rhymes, signs, books or pamphlets.
❖ Role playing using puppets: Incorporating a storyline with dialogue can help your child better absorb words and phrases. (Toddler Approved, n.d)
❖ Going through photo albums and describing the photos: This may help your child remember certain words by associating them with your family’s history. (Toddler Approved, n.d)
❖ Making photo albums together with the child: Teach your child certain words and phrases associated with the photographs during this process.
❖ Pretend play time: role play in different scenarios, using costumes, props and toys
❖ Music and television: Exposing your child to musical rhymes and watching educational children television shows like sesame street and high-five are great ways to improve your child’s speech and language skills.
At Genesis Childcare 1989 (childcare in Tampines / childcare in Taman Jurong), we provide a wide array of educational tools and guided sessions for toddlers on basic language sounds and speech. In addition, your child will be accompanied by our trained teachers for reading sessions and role playing sessions with toys and puppets to maximise your child’s communication potential.
1.2.2 Social Skills and Virtues
At this age, it is also essential for toddlers to start picking up social skills and learning about key virtues. Social skills would refer to the skills necessary to interact with others, which include listening, greeting, communicating and being polite and gentle. There are activities that toddlers can participate in to boost their social skills. These include:
❖ Home-based role playing sessions: Parents can join their child in acting out different real life scenarios, where parents can correct bad behaviour and educate their child on the right ways to behave during social settings.
❖ Socializing with other children: Parents should ensure that their child gets ample opportunities to interact with other children. These may include bringing your child to neighborhood playgrounds otr indoor playgrounds like Smaland Ikea or Kids Explorer. Organizing playing sessions with cousins of a similar age range is a viable option as well.
Toddlers should also be encouraged to adopt key virtues such as compassion, graciousness, patience and charitable behaviour. Parents can start by being a good role model and demonstrating acts of kindness. They should also expose their children to movies/television shows that promote strong morals.
In addition, parents should also educate their children on being considerate and responsible. These include teaching children to:
❖ Take turns
❖ Queue up
❖ Throw rubbish only in dustbins and trash cans instead of on the floor
❖ Eat in a clean manner
At Genesis Childcare 1989, we organize group playing sessions for the toddlers. These include group drawing, coloring or puzzle solving. These group sessions are effective in boosting communication and social skills for your child. In addition, we also ensure that there exists an interactive and close-knitted relationship between your child and our caregivers. This is such that we can best see to your child’s needs and closely monitor their progress in learning.
1.2.3 Self Regulation Skills
Toddlers will eventually also start learning self regulation skills. These skills relate to the ability to control one’s emotions and behaviour around others. They may also pertain to the ability to stay focused and control one’s mentality over a situation. (Nurture Thrive, n.d)
It is essential to ensure the proper development of a toddler’s self regulation skills as this can impact the child in areas such as anger management, stress management or the ability to be a team player in the future. The following are ways to help your child improve his or her self regulation skills:
❖ Control games: Musical chairs, Simon says, Jenga or Freeze dance (Howes, 2018)
❖ Role play sessions: educate toddlers on how they should behave in different situations
❖ Self regulation exercises: taking deep breaths and having resting sessions between activities (Nurture Thrive, n.d)
❖ Allowing your child to make decisions: This can be related to their choice of food items, clothes or places of interest. Enabling your child to independently make choices can significantly boost their decision making skills
1.3 Learning for Preschoolers (2 to 6 years old)
1.3.1 Language (Reading and Writing)
Literacy skills are a foundational learning component for preschoolers. These skills primarily relate the ability to read and write in one or more languages. Singapore’s education system mandates that primary and secondary school students are required to undertake a second language (Mother tongue) as an examinable subject. As such, it is important for students to not just be proficient in the English language, but in their mother tongue as well.
To boost reading capabilities, preschoolers should be exposed to a wide variety of reading materials and educational content. These include:
❖ Reading books, poems and riddles (Ackerman, 2019)
❖ Practicing rhymes and songs
❖ Playing educational computer, smartphone or board games
❖ Watching educational children television shows
To improve writing skills, preschoolers can:
❖ Engage in arts and crafts (Ackerman, 2019)
❖ Practice writing letters and simple words (Ackerman, 2019)
❖ Designing and colouring postcards or birthday cards
❖ Using a mini whiteboard for drawing and writing words
At Genesis Childcare 1989 (childcare at Tampines / childcare at Taman Jurong), we aim to provide a holistic bilingual learning experience for your child. For better knowledge retention, we adopt a thematic learning approach for our English and Chinese curriculum, where class activities and lessons are centered around the theme. This makes the learning experience more engaging and interesting for the children.
In addition, we are currently adopting the well recognised Kong Zi Xue Yuan Chinese Teaching Program for our Chinese curriculum. This program is equipped with a complete set of learning materials and lesson plans for an enriching learning experience. For our phonic lessons, we are using the Letter land Program to help our preschoolers read, write and spell.
1.3.2 Mathematics and Science
Mathematics and Science are also an integral learning component for preschoolers. For mathematics, preschoolers should primarily focus on learning how to count, add, subtract, read calendars and tell the time. The following are ways help preschoolers boost their mathematical skills:
❖ Make counting part of an everyday routine: counting food on the table, number of steps, items at the grocery store (Ackerman, 2019)
❖ Counting books
❖ Board games that involve counting: Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders
❖ Toy clocks to tell time
❖ Cash register toys
For Science, preschoolers are typically educated about the world around them. These include learning about animals, nature and the environment at large. The following are ways for preschoolers to expand their knowledge of Science:
❖ Go outdoors to explore nature: write down observations, take pictures and draw images (Ackerman, 2019)
❖ Conduct simple experiments: learning what objects magnets can attract, planting green beans raising mealworms
At Genesis Childcare 1989 (childcare in Tampines / childcare in Taman Jurong), Math and Science concepts are introduced naturally to our preschoolers through hands-on activities and play. We also provide activity sheets designed to help them practise the skills they have acquired.
2. HEALTH AND WELLNESS
To ensure the healthy development of children, it is necessary to customize a nutritious and well-balanced diet for them. To achieve this, it is recommended to incorporate foods from the five main food groups into their diet.
The Five Main Food Groups
- Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach
- Red or orange veggies like bell peppers and baby carrots (Niedospal, 2018)
- Starchy veggies like sweet potato and corn
- Beans and peas
- Apples: rich in dietary fiber and Vitamin C, help build resistance against heart disease and visual impairment (My, 2020)
- Bananas: rich in carbohydrates, which serves as an energy boost, rich in potassium, which helps to protect your child’s heart. (My, 2020)
- Avocados (contain healthy fats which provide strong protection for the heart, rich in Vitamin E, which promotes the healthy growth & development of red blood cells (My, 2020)
- Opt for whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, barley or quinoa (Mayoclinic, n.d)
- Minimise intake of refined carbs like white bread, white flour or pasta
- Skinless white meat: chicken or turkey breasts (Marsha, 2018)
- Seafood: white fleshed fish like cod fish or tilapias (Marsha, 2018)
- Beans: kidney beans or black beans
- Peas: chickpeas or green peas
Opt for fat-free or low fat dairy options such as skimmed milk, low fat milk, low fat yoghurt or low fat cottage cheese (Mayoclinic, n.d)
2.2.1 Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardio exercises are important in helping children maintain a healthy weight and keeping
their heart, lungs and other vital organs fit and healthy. Suitable examples include:
❖ Running: shuttle runs, catching games or light jogging on the spot
❖ Jumping: skipping ropes, hop scotch, butt kicks or high knees (Holecko, 2020)
2.2.2 Muscle-toning Exercises
Muscle-strengthening exercises are important in helping children achieve better body balance and posture, faster speed and improved performance in sports. Suitable examples include:
❖ Swimming: water resistance helps strengthen arm, shoulders, chest and leg muscles (Singapore Swimming Academy, n,d)
❖ Squats and Lunges: strengthens leg and thigh muscles (Holecko, 2020)
❖ Squat jumps or sumo squat hops
3. MENTAL WELL-BEING
3.1 Healthy Family Relationships
3.1.1 Parent Child Relationship
A child’s mental health may be largely impacted by the relationship with his or her parents. Parents should strive to foster a deep sense of trust with their children. Parents need to show to their children that are capable of looking after their physical and emotional needs. Family outings and playing games together are great ways to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
3.1.1 Relationship with Extended Family Members
It is also important for children to have a healthy relationship with their grandparents, cousins and other relatives. Having a close-knitted family circle can serve as a steady source of emotional support for the child. Parents can organize house visits and family celebrations to maintain close relations with extended family members.
3.2 Cultivating Healthy Habits
3.2.1 Getting Sufficient Sleep
Experts advise that toddlers (1-3 year olds) should be getting 12-14 hours of sleep a day, while preschoolers (3-6 year olds) should be getting 10-12 hours of sleep a day (WebMD Medical Reference, n,d). Getting adequate sleep is important for the mental health of a child. A lack of sleep can result in increased anxiety, stress and lethargic behaviour (University of Houston, 2016).
3.2.2 Limiting the Usage of Digital Devices
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under two should not be allowed to use digital devices, while older children and young teens should not exceed 2 hours of digital devices usage daily. (Morin, 2020)
This is because excessive usage can:
❖ Damage your child’s eyes
❖ Lead to anti-social behaviour
❖ Cause memory and retention issues, which poses as an obstacle to learning
❖ Cause obesity due to a lack of physical activity (SingHealth, n.d)
We all want the very best for our children. As such, it is important that we make the effort to ensure the holistic development for our children during their formative years. This will enable them to maximise their physical and intellectual capabilities, which will continue to stay with them even as they enter adulthood.
About Nurture Infant House (infant care in Tampines)
With more than 31 years of experience, we are Singapore’s leading provider for preschool services. Our curriculum consists of high-quality learning and care for infants between 2 to 18 months. We are deeply committed to providing excellent services for parents and have established ourselves as a preferred partner of choice.
We are dedicated towards providing a comfortable and educational learning environment for infants to bring out the best in every infant - in relation to their intellectual and physical capabilities.
Nurture Infant House (Tampines) (2 to 18 months Infants) Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-61 Singapore 520433
About Genesis Childcare 1989
Having been established for over 31 years, Genesis Childcare Group has been a leader in early childhood care and education. Genesis Childcare Group has grown from its first centre in
1989 into one of Singapore’s most respected early childhood organisations with four centres located around Singapore.
We are committed towards working closely with parents to ensure that every child is able to attain an enriching and meaningful learning experience with us. We aim to spark the interest of learning in children and inspire them to unleash their full potential. Your child’s needs are our top priority and we are truly passionate in what we do. To date, we have nurtured and educated more than 3459 children in Singapore.
Genesis Childcare 1989 (Tampines)
Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-63/65 Singapore 520433
*For more enquiries, please contact Joseph - Tel: +65 9666 4141
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