The education of a child starts from the first day s/he is born and hears the first sound. Every time someone, especially the parents and family members/friends speaks to the child, sing to him/her and responds to the sound the child makes, such person strengthens the child’s understanding.

With the continuous guide from the home, the child can be set on an excellent foundation for a delightful educational experience in later years. Unfortunately, not many Nigerian parents know this.

Consequently, most parents wait until the child is of school age. It is until then that they start paying attention to the child’s education. They demonstrate this by getting them into school. Regrettably, not many children is usually able to recuperate from the deficiency in their before school age foundation.

Objective of this post in one sentence

This post provides guides on how to support children by laying good foundation for them before they attain school age.

Who is the post for?

The post would be invaluable to parents, especially young parents that desire to place their child on a trajectory to successful educational and life experience. From the information contained herein, educators, especially those that work with children at the early years, would be able to give orientation to the parents of their child on how to support or compliment their effort at school. After reading the post, older children can also engage their parents on discussing this aspect of child and education.

So, what are the ways of supporting a child before school age?

There is more than one thing a parent needs to do to support a child before school age. However, the many things can be grouped into four broad categories:

  • Basic Needs support
  • Emotional Support
  • Social Support
  • Academic support

In the following sections (or in this and subsequent posts), I explain each of these things. As you read, get a pen and paper by your side and keep your mind open to ideas that would flow to you from outside the post.

1.  Basic Needs Support (here limited to) Dietary support

Just so I could maintain some level of moderation, I limit the discussion on Basic Needs Support to only one of the basic needs – Nutrition or dietary.

It is perhaps a natural responsibility of parents or the home to provide simple and healthy food for their children. Although many Nigerian parents meet the nutritional needs of their babies under the age of one, some rather starts to care less as the baby develops capabilities to eat the “general food” that adults take. At the early age, even after the age of one; the food children eat is important. Also, children in their before school age “are critical for brain development, and what they eat affects focus and cognitive skills” (Krueger, 2015). Consequently, it is advisable that parents continue to feed their under school age children with food that enhances brain development. The food may not be prepared specially for the child but added to the family meals. Some list of such food includes:

  • Eggs,
  • Green vegetables,
  • Fish,
  • Nuts and seeds,
  • Fruits,
  • Cereals, etc.

Source: Krueger, A. (2015, May 12). 7 Brain Foods for Kids. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from WebMD.

Another word or two on dietary support

Still on dietary support, the parent may support the child develop social traits through family meals.  In this context it is good to ask “when was the last time the family ate together?” Although strange to the African family set up, the “civilized” practice of each family member eating alone is becoming quite prevalent among the Nigerian homes. In such “civilized” families, everyone at home has their plates and cutlery. So once it is meal time, everyone individually go and get his/her food. Even in such families, it is advisable that once in a while or as often as possible, they eat together. Such occasion (of eating together) gives the child the opportunity to learn table manners from the adults at the table because children like to imitate adults. Eating together also fosters language development and conversational skills. Finally, eating together encourages the child to try out food varieties. Children can be very selective when it comes to food. But when they see adults eating something different, they will (out of the natural tendency to imitate) want to try out new varieties which build their nutritional composition.

Finally, be aware that children are always children. So, when you want to teach or help them some develop all this social habits through family meals or when eating together; do it gently. That means you must find a way of teaching them without offending them. This does not need much emphasis because most parents (remembering my mom) do not discipline children while on table.

If you have read this far it means that you are really interested in providing every needed support for your child or children. I am sure you got a few things from the post. Note however, that this is not all that one needs to provide EVERY necessary support to a child for high life performance. But for convenience and comfort of the readers, the entire discussion is divided into series of post of which this is the first part. Click here to see the second part or here for the entire thread


Just to summarize what was discussed in this part:

  • The food that children eat when they are still very young (before they starts school) matters a lot because at that age, their brain is developing.
  • Young children need food that help their brain to develop very well.
  • Some of such foods are egg, green vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, fruits, cereals, and others.
  • The young children need these kinds of food not only when they are below one year but for as long as they are still children.
  • Apart from providing these kinds of food, another way a parent can provide dietary support is by teaching the child rudiments of eating etiquette.
  • When teaching children, we have to be gentle so as not to offend them.

The next part is more exciting as it discusses one of the most crucial part of human life – the emotions. Almost every other aspects depend on the emotional state of a child. Click here to continue the discussion on how to support a child before school age for high academic and life performance.

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