COLUMN: Early childhood crucial

This week I would like to discuss the importance of early childhood development. Psychologists have long debated the importance of early childhood development and learning. Most would agree that early childhood is a very crucial time to develop the mind. However, is it more important than the later stages of life?

I believe learning is always important, regardless of the stage of one's life. I have found that the more I live and learn, the more I desire to acquire knowledge. Knowledge is like a drug, and I'm very addicted. In a way it's frustrating to me that there is no limit to knowledge. I will commit a lifetime to learning and still not know everything. It's similar to searching for a pot of gold that you know you'll never reach. However, at the same time, it inspires me. It's good to know I can just keep learning and learning.

Now back to the topic at hand. I have gone to a public school all my life. Only now do I realize the importance of those first few years. I'll be up-front in saying that very few classes challenged me intellectually. I always felt it was "busy work."

I have several friends that were home schooled. I am jealous of most of these friends. It has been interesting to compare my early experiences with their's. Most began reading and learning at a much younger age and have achieved great things already. I know. I can't generalize. However, I do have one friend that taught herself law. Another graduated high school two years early. Seems pretty impressive to me.

Conversations with these friends are very enlightening. They can talk for hours about any subject you choose. They know a plethora of information about events in history that I have very limited knowledge of. Although I am a history major, I learn a lot just listening to them.

I believe early childhood development is extremely vital to learning. Young children observe a great deal about the world around them. They attempt to imitate what they see and hear. Parents have the responsibility to educate their children at an early age. It's important to teach and read to the young.

Parents must also place great value upon education. When the parent values it, the child will as well. A child must be encouraged and given the opportunity to learn. I was never "forced" to do a lot of reading and learning. It's unfortunate for me now. I am just now beginning to truly enjoy reading.

Lincoln was very under-educated but has always been seen as one of the best leaders of this nation. At a very young age, he began reading books and learning through observation. I think it's important to realize that the first few years of life are probably the most crucial. We should start teaching children at a younger age. We should establish in them a great respect for education. Looking back on the past I have but one regret. I wish I would have started earlier and worked harder at learning and reading.

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