Learning “from Infancy”
THE idea of teaching babes anything complicated is far removed from the minds of many people. Yet researchers and educators are finding out that the learning process can actually start from infancy. The child who gets this early training will usually do better in school later on. Things as complex as languages and mathematics can be taught children long before they start school.
Masaru Ibuka, founder of Sony Corporation in Japan, saw such convincing evidence of this potential that he became enthusiastically involved in early education methods. He had seen “the remarkable results of Dr. [Shinichi] Suzuki’s ‘talent education’ method of teaching the violin to very young children,” says a United Press International report.
The first three years is, according to Ibuka, the period when “your child’s potential for learning is greatest,” “greater than we ever imagined.” The UPI report further said: “It is during the early years, when the brain cells are growing, that the ‘hardware’ or main circuitry of the brain is being formed. When a child learns a skill simultaneously with this brain cell development, the pattern of the skill is automatically imprinted on his mind.” Ibuka feels that there is even hope for some development of retarded children “if properly educated from birth.”
Canadian researcher Dr. William Fowler says that “certainly the time to begin working is during the first three years; even infants at six months of age are ready to begin learning.”
How can you start educating mere babies? By reading to them, say those experienced in the field. “That makes the parent the most significant teacher society has,” says an educator in Toronto. Children who get this early start with books are encouraged to become readers themselves. Some have been able to learn to read before starting school, and some as early as two years of age!
Of course, parents should not “push” an infant or a small child just to have the ‘smartest kid in town.’ It is simply a matter of stimulating the potential that is there, at the child’s own pace.
The idea of learning “from infancy” comes as no surprise to Bible readers. A missionary companion of the apostle Paul, Timothy, had it written about him that “from infancy you have known the holy writings.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Similarly, there are many Christian parents today who know that children can learn from infancy to listen to Bible story readings and respond well when asked what they read. Children’s capacity for detail and accuracy is amazing, even before they can read for themselves.
Thus, once again the Bible has shown itself accurate in a case where it might have been doubted. The idea of teaching babes is seen to be the practical and wise thing to do.