At the Best Schools in Spain, we consider early stimulation in the first years of life to be of the utmost importance for the learning process in subsequent stages of schooling.
In order to establish a preliminary idea of this concept, we can define early stimulation as the science-based methods, techniques and activities applied systematically and sequentially in the first six years of a child’s life, with the aim of maximising the development of their cognitive, emotional, physical and mental skills.
From the ages of 0 to 6, children discover the world around them thanks to exterior stimuli, which they detect through their perceptions, senses and movement. Early stimulation is so important during this period due to the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, or the ability to create new connections between brain cells (neurones) and the brain’s ability to adapt to different stimuli, in the first few years of life.
Early stimulation at school
It is essential to develop, maintain and use as many of these neural circuits and connections as possible in these early years. How do we work on this at school? At the Best Schools in Spain, we do not try to force development. Instead, we allow young children to develop their natural skills through education.
In addition, we should avoid making children perform unpleasant exercises that they do not enjoy. Our schools study and keep children’s likes and dislikes at the forefront of their minds in order to offer them this opportunity in a suitable, fun and attractive manner, thereby encouraging the development of neural connections. Children need to receive the necessary stimuli with a suitable method at just the right time.
Ultimately, early stimulation aims to make the most of the brain’s ability to learn and adapt, mainly by applying repetitive stimuli to develop specific beneficial brain functions.
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The importance of pre-primary education in a child’s development
The school where a child spends their first years of education plays a fundamental role in the process of early stimulation, as a large part of the brain’s development occurs before the age of 3. Therefore, if a skill is not used often during this sensitive period in the first few years of life (known as the critical period), it will be difficult for a child to reach such a high level later in life.
Stimulation programmes should be well structured, formal and coordinated. They should never be presented to children in a disorganised or improvised manner. To this end, the teachers that deliver the programme must have the appropriate knowledge and be qualified to implement it at a school. In addition to training, the teachers’ main focus must be to motivate students. This is essential as teachers are responsible for finding activities and experiences that engage students and, therefore, get them involved in their own learning process, making it fun and effortless.
In this sense, the Best Schools in Spain stress the need for children to start schooling as early as possible so that they are exposed to early stimulation programmes and these are useful and effective in later stages of schooling. Our schools have seen the benefits and results of using these techniques with small children, such as beginning to talk earlier, walking more confidently, developing the cognitive abilities necessary for academic training and acquiring good social interaction skills.
It is important to point out that the aim of this programme is to support the students’ integral development, without placing importance on any specific area. Early stimulation is not just about strengthening intellectual aspects or reading and maths skills, but also deals with physical, sensorial and social elements of children’s integral development through different methods, techniques and activities. Students must have as many opportunities as possible to develop their full potential.
Benefits of early stimulation
- It encourages development and strengthens brain functions.
- It helps students mature and stimulates the physical, sensorial and social learning process.
- It awakens a child’s curiosity and observation skills.
- It can detect learning disorders.
- It encourages the development of emotional bonds.
At the Best Schools in Spain, we know that children who take part in early stimulation programmes are more confident, have more tools at their disposal to face the challenges posed by a changing society and are happier. Consequently, we apply our knowledge and work hard to offer our students the best education right from the very first years of life.