Last Sunday Adam visited his friend Tony in Fleet. He and Tony had arranged a tennis game so I decided to hold the fort, recovering myself from a recent eye surgery at home.
Tony is a powerhouse, runs a marathon and takes part in an Ironman triathlon. During training, he cycles about 80 miles, to and fro between home and his London office.
Adam hobbled back home at late night, utterly burnt-out. Plonking himself on a sofa and sipping away coffee, he told me his day. Starting really rusty whereas Tony was on his top form, Adam lost the first 7 games but slowly got in the groove before winning the last 3 games in a row. I was about to shower him with praise, but he changed his subject to Gabriel, Tony’s 4-year-old son.
I was gobsmacked to hear that Tony has introduced his son to take on a 2 K run since last week. I met Gabriel once when we were invited to his sister Emily’s christening last year. He has a full head of blond hair and is very energetic. We played hide and seek …
I could visualise what Tony’s doing is to create intellectual surroundings for Gabriel to experience and explore, following the basic needs of food, clothes and well-being are fulfilled. During the race, Gabriel could be guided to watch and copy activities, learn new skills and slowly understand the feelings of success, failure, enjoyment and pain, etc. Tony would closely observe, support and respond to Gabriel’s needs and performance. By using a loving and patient approach, he would praise his son for a good run and offer an immediate reassurance and solution if he stumbles across any problems. So the ‘2 K Run’ would probably provide Gabriel an experience of gaining a new skill, knowledge, understanding the mixed feelings, bonding a connection with his dad and learning how to solve problems.
I completely agree with Tony on his approach to intellectually, mentally and emotionally challenging Gabriel at his early age. Science shows as much as 75% of human brain’s growth and development happen during the first 3 years after birth, especially in the 2nd and 3rd years. Although influenced by genetics, the brain’s growth is believed to be heavily relied on a child’s experiences. Hence, the intellectual and emotional experiences received during toddlerhood and early childhood from parents, family members and the environment are strongly encouraged, so as to boost the child brain’s development, cultivate broad interests and help to build valuable qualities, e.g. confidence, will-power, optimism and communication skills.
I knew of one Chinese single mum who worked hard as an administrator to keep her head above water. Her life seemed melancholy but she was a happy soul because of 2 things in her life – a son and books.
Being a book buff, she started reading her books to the 1-year-old son. Each evening she spent time reading a book to him in a soft and loving tone and the toddler tilted his little head with big eyes wide open – he was listening attentively in curiosity.
Book reading slowly became a routine for the mum and her son. Sometimes being out and about in town, they had to find a place to sit down for the little one to rest feet, then the mum took the prepared newspaper out of her hand bag and started reading to the boy …
The perpetual and vast experience of book reading received by the son worked wonders in the end. In his academic years, the boy topped the class and excelled from primary school all the way through to his Master’s Degree study. He loved books and school subjects - learning was so easy and enjoyable to him!
In a nutshell, we could see from this story the intellectual experience intertwined with the single mum’s love, support and dedication received by the son as a toddler and pre-schooler had such an impact upon his brain’s growth, life-long interests and passion in books and knowledge, which probably paved the way for a smoother success in his later academic years.
The positive intellectual experiences can come in many ways and parents may endeavour to discover and create as many proper experiences as possible for their little ones to enjoy and explore.