Raising a young child is no easy task, and it can often feel like a losing battle. How do you know which decisions are going to affect them in the long run? What can you do to ensure they are learning positive habits that will stick with them for life?
To help you answer these questions, keep reading for five essential things that your preschool-age child needs (and deserves).
1. Enough Sleep
One of the most important things that your child needs is adequate sleep. Not only is it tied to their development and well-being, but it also affects their mental and physical performance. Children who don’t get enough sleep often don’t have enough energy on a daily basis, which can lead to behavioral issues.
If you need help regulating your child’s sleep cycle, then start by creating a bedtime routine. You should start getting ready for bed at the same time each evening, so pick a suitable time and then stick to it. Bedtime and wake-up time need to be the same each day if you are going to be able to regulate their sleep cycles. Moreover, follow the same routine each night – brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a book, going to sleep.
Many children start to get hyper around bedtime, so you want to avoid activities that may encourage this. In the evenings, limit sweet or sugary products and replace these with soothing drinks and snacks that will help them settle down for the night.
2. Proper Nutrition
After sleep, proper nutrition is the next most crucial thing for your child to have because it is vital to their physical and intellectual development. What’s more, having a healthy diet is one of the simplest (but most effective) ways of preventing the onset of disease, so you want to use meals and snacks as an opportunity to encourage good nutritional habits. The earlier you can inculcate these healthy habits, the better.
To provide your child with nutritious meals, you just need to follow the same principles as you (hopefully) do for yourself. This means including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat in their daily diet. On the other hand, limit your child’s consumption of added sugar and saturated and trans fats.
When brainstorming preschoolers lunch box ideas, make sure you are giving them lunches that are simple yet full of variety. Generally, small children prefer simple foods; however, they also enjoy seeing colors and textures.
Keep switching up the foods that you give them so that they don’t get bored with their lunches and even expand their palate. If you are having a hard time getting them to eat their food, try cutting foods into fun shapes the way Korean and Japanese moms do.
3. Regular Socialization
As a parent, you want to do as much as you can to nurture your child’s social skills and give them plenty of opportunities to interact with other human beings. The importance of socialization in child development cannot be overstated as this is how they learn to interact with other people, learn and share, and deal with both their own and other people’s emotions.
The preschool age is a critical stage for learning these social skills as children are interested in cooperative play and like to involve themselves in imaginative games. In addition to sending them to a nursery or preschool, one of the best ways to have them socialize is to organize play dates.
During these times, your child will learn how to spend time with other children. You can help them to practice their manners and to cooperate as they interact with each other. While they may have a lot of fun during their playdates, they are also necessary exercises for practicing critical social and emotional skills. Generally, a play date should last no more than two hours; otherwise, children may get tired or annoyed.
4. Creative Outlets
Creative expression offers every individual the chance to explore their senses and utilize inspiration. Plus, you can’t have creativity without imagination, which is why this is the best time for children to discover their creative tendencies. Not only will it help them get in tune with their vision, but it also gives them an avenue to express themselves.
There are many different kinds of creative outlets ranging from sketching to painting, crafting clay sculptures to making beaded jewelry. However, one of the best creative outlets for preschool-age children is music. By getting your child involved in activities such as singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, you are helping to promote their developmental skills, while keeping them mentally stimulated.
No matter what kind of creative outlet you (and your child) decides upon, the important thing is that they feel comfortable and confident creating. This is the time to give your child the tools necessary to be creative throughout their life.
5. Well-Rounded Schooling
When looking for a nursery for your child, make sure to consider the different curriculum options. Ideally, you want to send your child somewhere with a well-rounded curriculum. Two of the most popular curriculum styles are the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the Reggio Emilia approach.
The EYFS combines three prime areas (personal, social, and emotional development; communication and language; physical development) with four specific areas of learning and development (expressive art and design; literacy; understanding of the world; mathematics). The EYFS curriculum incorporates relevant, age-appropriate, achievable goals for each of these areas.
The Reggio Emilia approach focuses on hands-on discovery learning that empowers children to utilize all their senses. It is a progressive, cooperative, and holistic approach to early childhood education that views each child as curious, full of potential, and engaged with the world around them. Teachers are conscious of each child’s potential and aim to create an environment in which every child can thrive.
With this list, we hope you feel empowered as a parent as you continue to guide and raise your kids in the best way you can.
What do you think are the most essential things that a preschool-age child needs? Why do you believe that? Do you have any top tips or insightful advice for parents who have offspring at this age?
Let us know in the comments below!
Ayesha Hoda is a marketing and communications specialist working at Step By Step Nursery Group in the UAE. She holds an MBA degree from a leading business school in Pakistan and has more than 13 years of experience in corporate communications and journalism. She has worked in both agency and client-side roles, designing communication strategies for multinational clients, nonprofits and small businesses in various industries, such as education and healthcare.