Nature vs. Nurture: Which Impacts Early Learning Most?

Are children born smart? Or are they a product of their environment?

Nature v’s nurture is one of the oldest debates and one that still today has not been concluded. We only need look at our child to see that their physical characteristics are hereditary but what about our child’s behaviour, intelligence and personality? Is this genetic or is learnt through nurturing and life experiences? What role, and how much of a role, does the environment play in our child’s life?

Both nature and nurture are highly influential factors

As we progress as a society so does our understanding of nature v’s nurture. Scientist today seem to be able to agree on one thing, that both nature and nurture can be given some merit. Nature gives us the inborn abilities and traits with nurture taking these genetic tendencies and moulding them as we learn and mature. Genetics definitely play a role in the child’s brain development but they do not have the final word.

The child-parent relationship plays a larger role in development

The way we nurture our children, including the environment we provide influences the development of our child.

A Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) identified a range of associations between the early home learning environment at age 2-3 and the child’s learning outcome at age 8-9. This study shed light on the nurture theory confirming that children who were provided a nurturing home learning environment in the early years benefited developmentally regardless of their gender, socio-economic position or family type.

When looking at this study it is fair to say that nature can provide the goods but with a little bit of nurturing these goods can be stimulated, giving our children a little bit of extra growth.

Nurture to realize full potential

So as parents what does this mean? Becoming involved in our child’s early life is important. It does not mean filling a room full of expensive toys with bits that open, shut, flash and dingle. Stimulation comes in many forms. From the paper towel tube and box to the blanket fort, reading a book, playing in a puddle or sharing an electronic toy, the main ingredient is that of enriched activities which nurture the inborn abilities of our child, challenging them to work to their best potential, try new things, problem solve and discover.

Our role as parents lies in that of offering stimulation, guidance and resources conducive to a positive nurturing environment. An environment that adds the nurture to the nature giving our children the ability to thrive at their full potential.

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