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By Jean Warren

Every parent wants his or her child to do well in life. Most parents know that what a child learns before they enter school is just as important to future success as what they learn in school.

The problem as I see it, occurs when parents enthusiasm for helping their child succeed gets mixed up with trying to teach them things before they are developmentally ready.

Reading is a good example. Few children are ready to read before the age of six. Just because your child can recognize his name or points to the golden arches and says "MacDonalds", does not mean he or she has the skills to decode words at this time. In their natural concern to help their child, many parents try to push ahead their child's timetable for learning. This is usually done to prove to themselves and their friends and family just how advanced their offspring is. In rare cases, this may be true but most children need their preschool years for building brain connections.

Learning to problem solve, make connections between things, noticing likes and differences, learning to put things in order are the important things for preschoolers to be learning. These pursuits help children grow the circuits in their brains thus giving them the foundations for future learning. Don't waste your child's precious preschool years trying to jump start his learning. Give him the foundations now that will grow his mind so that he will be able to reach his full potential later on.

When you have the urge to push your child ahead, just remember the story of the little boy and the butterfly.

One day a boy found a challis (a butterfly cocoon) hanging from a tree. He was anxious for the butterfly to come out, so he decided to help him along. He carefully peeled back the layers of the cocoon and encouraged the butterfly to come out. But when the butterfly went to spread his wings, they only opened partially. The butterfly tried to fly off but couldn't because his wings had not been allowed to develop properly - in their own time.

In a young child's life, the first five years should be like a challis, a safe warm place where they are allowed to develop at their own rate, so that when they finally go off to school, they will be ready to fly!