Baby brain waves. Why it’s so important to start education early | Episode 3 SHICHIDA Podcast

In this episode we invited the Head of Business Operations for SHICHIDA Australia, Hanako Ward, onto the show to talk about why it’s so important to start your child’s education as early as zero years old. Join us as we chat to Hanako about the differences between adult brain waves and baby brain waves, why it’s important to capitalize on the Golden Period of brain development in babies, and how parents can help their babies learn at home.

Transcript

Danh: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of The SHICHIDA Shining Stars podcast, a podcast where we address all the questions parents have about early childhood education. My name is Mr. Danh, and with me today is a very special guest, the head of business operations for SHICHIDA Australia, Ms. Hanako Ward. Hi, Hanako.

Hanako: Hi Danh, how you going?

Danh: I’m doing very well, thank you. How are you?

Hanako: I’m good, thanks.

Danh: Hanako is here with us today to help us answer a question many parents ask us here at SHICHIDA: When is the best time to get a start on your child’s education? So what do you think, Hanako? When should parents be looking to get started on helping their child learn?

Hanako: Well, the earlier, the better. My advice would be to get started now if you can. The first two years of your child’s life are super important in terms of learning. Their brains are like sponges.

Danh: You say the first two years. Do you mean literally from day one?

Hanako: Day one. Even when your child is in the womb, you can start talking to your child. But certainly from day one.

Danh: So you said that the first two years of their life are crucial to their learning. Could you explain a little bit about why this is the case?

Hanako: Sure. So you might understand yourself. You’re learning Japanese at the moment, right?

Danh: Yeah. Trying to.

Hanako: Yeah. Trying is the key word. As adults, it’s super hard for us to learn a different language. But when you think about it, little kids, they’re able to fluently learn a language even in their first two years of life. That’s because their brains are just able to absorb so much information and learn so easily. That’s when their brains are in what we call the right brain state, learning through alpha waves. It’s just easier to learn.

Danh: Okay. So learning through alpha waves. So, I mean, I have a rough understanding of this, but essentially at this age, kids are able to absorb information more readily than when they’re adults, right?

Hanako: Yeah. So as adults, when we’re learning, we’re typically pretty stressed. If you’re studying for an exam, say a Japanese JLPT exam – are you studying for anything at the moment, Danh?

Danh: Funny you should mention, I was just thinking about joining the JLPTs this year.

Hanako: Okay, there you go. So that’s going to probably involve some study. And when you’re studying as an adult, your brain waves are in the beta wave, which is sort of the stress wave where you’re very consciously trying to learn. Whereas children, they don’t realize they’re learning. Their brain waves are in that calm state, the alpha wave, so they’re calmly just absorbing information.

Danh: Right. So that’s why kids that grow up bilingual kind of just pick up the two languages naturally, right?

Hanako: Yeah.

Danh: So you would recommend that if parents are trying to raise their kids to be bilingual, to use the language other than English as much at home?

Hanako: Definitely. Definitely. For sure. Yeah. It’s going to make it so much easier in the long run. I’m glad my mom spoke Japanese to me when I was growing up, because it would be a nightmare if I were trying to learn how to speak to her now as an adult in her native language.

Danh: Yeah, that’s true. I have a similar issue with my parents. I think they mostly used English at home with me and my brother when we were growing up. So my Lao speaking ability is not… ideal.

Hanako: So they missed that golden period.

Danh: Yeah, that’s right. So the golden period doesn’t just extend to language. It extends to other kinds of education.

Hanako: Absolutely. Absolutely everything. Anything under the age of two. It’s just so much easier for kids to learn and absorb. That’s when they learn the most and are able to learn the easiest. So we just want to make sure that learning’s fun and easy for kids with the SHICHIDA program, which is why we start the kids off at six months old. So they get that head start.

Danh: Okay. So what advice would you give to parents that are trying to take advantage of that crucial golden period? How can they help their kids absorb and retain that information?

Hanako: Well, you don’t have to do much. If there’s a SHICHIDA center near you, definitely get started in a SHICHIDA class where the teachers are guiding you. Otherwise, just in your daily life, talk to your child as you go about your tasks. When you’re shopping at the grocery store, even if your child is not speaking, you can talk to your child. Say, “Okay, we’re going to buy three apples today. Count them out. One, two, three.” Or, “This one’s a nice red apple. Let’s grab this one.” Just talk to your child naturally, because your baby is absorbing absolutely everything.

Danh: Yeah, okay. But at this age, you know, they’re obviously not able to speak yet in most situations. So how can parents be sure that the kids are kind of picking up what they’re saying to their child?

Hanako: Well, under the age of two, the golden period is the input period. That’s where we just input a lot, input, input, input. And then we start to get the output. You’ll notice when your child starts speaking, it might be around one and a half, that suddenly it just starts bursting out. It’s like filling a cup with water. You’re filling the cup with lots of information. And then after a certain age, it just starts overflowing. They’re able to give you all that output. So even if you don’t see your baby responding or even turning your way when you’re talking, don’t worry too much. Your child is definitely absorbing everything around them.

Danh: Yeah. And then you won’t be able to get them to stop speaking.

Hanako: Exactly. Yeah.

Danh: Okay. So for parents trying to take advantage of the golden period, you would recommend just exposing them to as much information as you can and just keep talking to them in that way.

Hanako: Yes.

Danh: Okay. And I guess programs like SHICHIDA really give kids the opportunity to have a structured scenario in which they can learn a variety of topics.

Hanako: Yeah. Absolutely. In Australia, there’s no program like SHICHIDA for the under twos. So if there are SHICHIDA classes near you, I’d say definitely get your child in as early as you can. Otherwise, just talk to your child, maybe look at the SHICHIDA online resources as well. They’re quite good to give you some hints and tips also. That’s what you can be doing as a parent with your child.

Danh: Yeah, I understand that there is a lot to the SHICHIDA program. But in a nutshell, how would you explain the difference between doing a class at SHICHIDA and just talking to your child at the shops, for example?

Hanako: Okay. Well, talking to your child is not very structured. You’re going through the day-to-day. The SHICHIDA program exposes your child, in a 50-minute class, to just a multitude of things, from critical thinking to all sorts of different topics—language, arts, counting, numeracy, storytelling as well. There’s games. It’s so much bunched into one lesson and it’s designed for the specific age of your child. So it is catering to your child’s needs and it’s things as well that you can pick up with your teacher through the SHICHIDA curriculum and take home and replicate. There’s a definite advantage if you’re in a SHICHIDA class, getting exposed to all those learning techniques that you can do with your child. So it’s not just about the child’s learning, but the parent’s learning as well about how to teach their kids at home.

Danh: Nice. And it’s fun, right?

Hanako: Absolutely. No point doing a class if it’s not fun, so yes, the SHICHIDA program is meant to be fun. We want to make learning fun for the kids so that when they go on to school and whatever in life, they find it fun. So they want to—they’re motivated to—want to learn.

Danh: Okay. And yeah, just one last thing, Hanako, before I let you go. We’ve talked a lot about the golden period from 0 to 2 years old. But that’s not to say that kids stop learning after the age of two, is it?

Hanako: No, they definitely don’t stop learning. It just becomes harder. So if you can get in early, then that’s fantastic for you and your child. My motto is the earlier, the better. But it’s never too late.

Danh: Yeah, I’m still learning today.

Hanako: Yeah, same. Same here.

Danh: Okay. Thank you so much for your time today, Hanako, and for answering my questions. Remember everybody, your baby is learning and absorbing information from day one, so it’s never too early to start supporting their learning. For more information on how the SHICHIDA program has been helping parents and kids get an early start on education, visit www.shichida.com.au.

You can enter the coupon code FUN50 to receive 50% off your first lesson. Alternatively, you can follow us on Instagram @shichidaaustralia. You can join our Facebook group to be part of the conversation or you can subscribe to our YouTube channel to get instant access to a wealth of parenting and early childhood education videos.

Thank you so much for listening and thank you again, Hanako, for joining us.

Hanako: Thanks, Danh.

Danh: Until next time, bye-bye.

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