We are pleased to bring you a series of blog posts and an opportunity to learn from educator and linguistic scientist, Helen Doron. Helen has been teaching English to children for 30 years. She is the founder and CEO of the Helen Doron Educational Group and created a unique methodology for teaching English, maths, fitness, and infant development with original and revolutionary learning materials. This week’s question is first in a three-part series and explains for children ages 0 to 2: How can parents lay a foundation for early language learning and evaluate what their young child (up to the age of 6) is learning in an English institute? Helen answers: This is an interesting question because not all parents speak English but will want to know that their child is indeed learning. Because ages 0-6 covers such a wide spectrum of capabilities, we will begin with parents of children ages 0-2 and how they can lay the foundation for early learning, find early English programmes and assess what their child is learning. In subsequent blogs we will discuss how parents of children ages 2-4 and 4-6 can determine what their child is learning. Learning Begins from Day One Babies’ first years are the foundation for their ongoing growth and development. How, and how well, children learn and relate to others depends on their earliest experiences in life each and every day. Starting from day one, holding the child, singing, rocking, swaying and feeding all prepare the child for later learning. Research shows that these very early life experiences play a critical role in a child’s ability to grow up healthy and ready to learn. During the first three years of life, the brain undergoes its most dramatic development and children acquire the ability to think, speak and reason. Science has made advances and has found that the way a baby reacts emotionally to how he or she is treated releases chemicals that affect his or her brain’s structure and functioning. These experiences do not wait for school or courses but begin at home. Do you sing to your child? Do you include movement and play? These activities are all essential to a child’s growth and development. How Learning Happens A baby is born with millions of brain cells, all he or she will ever need. Each brain cell has branching appendages, called dendrites, which reach out to make connections with other brain cells. The places where brain cells connect are called synapses. When electrical signals pass from brain cell to brain cell, they cross the synapse between the cells. When synapses are stimulated over and over, that pattern of neural connections is “hard-wired” in the brain. It becomes an efficient, permanent pathway that allows signals to be transmitted quickly and accurately. We know that the connections between brain cells develop as a result of the repeated, positive experiences that parents have with their child. Parents have a lasting impact on his or her child’s brain development. Consistency is Key When infants grow up in a regular, predictable world, they learn that they can trust their parents to meet their needs. Babies develop a sense of security when parents respond predictably and lovingly when they are crying, hungry, sleepy, or in the mood to play. This consistency should also be a part of a child’s activities and early learning experiences. If parents wish to find an early learning English programme for their baby/toddler, ages 0-2, they must look for courses that use an effective and consistent methodology. Babies’ early years are the foundation for growth and development and what they learn during those years depends on the experiences they have each and every day. A successful course for children this age depends upon consistency and emotional connections that help give them the confidence that they need to learn. Science has demonstrated that children who receive lots of love and attention actually learn better. Positive reinforcement and loving attention lay the groundwork for successful learning. Assessing Learning Optimal English language programmes for infants and toddlers include the parent. Ideally, toddler learners attend language programmes with their parents, so they can see what their child is learning. But this isn’t always the case. If parents aren’t in the classroom, how do they assess what and how well their child is learning? The parent can’t ask, “How do you say <word in mother tongue> in English?” The very young child isn’t able to translate yet. He may not even know the word in his mother tongue yet! In some cases, children learn English before they learn their own mother-tongue. In my 30 years’ experience developing English learning programmes for infants and children, I have found the most effective way to evaluate what infant and preschool aged students learn is to ask: Are they enjoying themselves and the programme? Are they having fun in the activities? Do they sing the songs? Simply put, if they are engaged they are learning. Learning at their Own Pace Some parents may want to try and test the very young child but for ages 0-2, this cannot be done successfully. Infants and toddlers simply don’t perform on command. Children learn at different paces and in different ways. And what is wonderful is that they all learn! Parents can feel confident to know that their children are on a sure and proven path to superb English learning, as well as a love of learning and expanded abilities. The courses I have developed based upon linguistic science and early childhood development and education follow a natural progression. For the early age groups, they will learn and there is no need to measure; every moment is filled with learning. Remember, believe in your child. The child’s brain is wired to learn, learn, learn and does not need pressure or stress. Let your child learn with joy and he will develop self-confidence along with the ability to speak English. For more information about Baby’s Best Start and other Helen Doron English classes for early learners, visit: www.HelenDoron.com About Helen Doron Helen began a small home business in 1985 and created a unique methodology with original and revolutionary learning materials. Her courses flourished and the business grew rapidly as Helen added teachers, teacher training courses and additional programmes based on her exclusive methodology of creativity and self-expression. New disciplines were added – maths, fitness, and infant development – and all were united under the brand name Helen Doron Educational Group. Helen Doron Educational Group stands at the forefront of innovative educational systems providing exclusive learning programmes and quality educational materials for babies, children, adolescents and teens the world over. Helen Doron Educational Group has become one of the largest children’s educational franchisors worldwide, with 90 Master Franchisees and over 880 Learning Centres in 35 countries across 5 continents, and full kindergarten programmes in Turkey and South Korea.