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SPICE-up a young child's development: social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional

Children are the precious gems of a family. When they’re young and innocent, they are like sponges that willingly and quickly absorb any knowledge and emotion. That’s why at an early age, we encourage our children to read, be creative, be happy and feed their curiosity. With all the technology and instant gratification that children get from playing video or computer games, asking a child to read a good book has been a challenge for some parents.

    “Your children are not your children.
      They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
      They come through you but not from you,
      And though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
      You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
       For they have their own thoughts.
       You may house their bodies but not their souls,
       For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
       which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” -  
                 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, On Children

A child is his or her own person. Children have their own opinions and aspirations, even at a very young age. We, as parents and guardians, can only guide them and feed them with information, tradition and values. Early childhood education helps a child to understand and grow.

My four children, with the help of my cousin, have worked hard to fund a scholarship program for economically-challenged children. The goal of the program is to help children realize that they, too, can make a difference in another child’s life. The program, SISBA, starts at providing the under privileged children with the foundation for learning through early childhood education, and continue to support their quest for a better life from pre-school all the way to college. Laying the foundation at a very young age, helps a child develop.

So when I was approached to feature an article about early childhood education, I eagerly accepted the request.

Kathleen Thomas of Primrose Schools has submitted the following write-up about the five important areas of a young child’s development, summed up by the acronym, SPICE – Social Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional.

The Advantages of Certified Early Childhood Education

In today's world many parents find themselves longing for the day when they can stay home with their children everyday, and instill in them all of the values that will help them become good people. Unfortunately the reality is that most American households need two incomes to not only pay for day care but to survive. Therefore children are sent to day care facilities or preschools.

The benefits of attending a certified day care, operated by trained, certified early childhood educators are endless. A preschool teacher cannot replace a parent and that is not the goal of a certified day care program. However, the experience of learning in a school setting during the early years can be a valuable supplement to a child's experience at a time when the brain is being shaped and developed.

Of those fortunate parents raising their children naturally, many wish to take full advantage of this opportunity by attempting to give their children a head start on learning; reading to them, engaging in educational play activities, encouraging them to read, and more. Unfortunately, very few parents can do it all.

"Filling the Gaps"

There is arguably no substitute for a loving parent-child relationship and daily interactions – but scientific methodology has an important place. This is where trained, certified early childhood educators can "fill the gaps" when it comes to a young child's development. For example, were you as a parent aware that there are five equally important areas of a young child's development? These are summed up by the acronym, "SPICE" – Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional.

The way a child relates to others and functions in a group setting involves social development. If you are among the increasing number of parents choosing to limit their family size to one child, the importance of socialization in a structured environment becomes apparent.

Physical development refers to building motor skills, from the gross (basic movements such as walking and running) to the fine (such as holding a writing implement).

Intellectual development is achieved through structured play, and of course means development of language and math skills as well as the child's innate sense of curiosity and wonder; Intellectual development is central to success in school later on.

Creative development addresses artistic talents in visual arts, music, storytelling and even theatrics. Although it is popular in American culture to dismiss creativity and the arts as unnecessary, creativity is the foundation self-expression and problem solving. It is arguable that without creativity, there would be no innovation nor entrepreneurship. (It was Einstein himself who said "Creativity is more important than knowledge.")

Emotional development is also frequently overlooked, even by the most devoted parents. Yet, without a sense of self, including self confidence and the discipline to deal with one's own emotional responses, a child will have difficulty functioning in society later in life.

Long Term Effects

It is likely that most parents are aware of these developmental domains on an instinctive level. However, certified preschool educators are trained in the scientific theory and methodology that can make the difference between a child succeeding – and succeeding brilliantly.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.


  1. That photo of your little one falling asleep while reading is so sweet!!

  2. I take issue with Ms. Patterson & Thomas' article. While I don't disagree with the research, it is the elitist belief that only a "trained, certified early childhood educators" can supply the needed experiences for a healthy development. Elizabeth Goodenough had a similar statement at a conference in 2008 and it is still insulting towards parents. Lay people are just as capable of providing excellent experiences for their child as does a "professional". I too am a professional child developmentalist, but I believe in the abilities of parents. Instead of hoarding the
    information, why not support parents and freely give the information? By giving solidly researched information to parents, we would be encouraging the strengthening of their family, and most likely be able to reach far more children than by promoting preschools and daycares. It would also give children an amazing home life AFTER they arrive home from said preschools and daycares.
    i also take issue that "intellectual development is achieved through structured play". That devalues the huge value unstructured/spontaneous play has in a child's overall development. Unstructured play encourages decision making, social skills, evaluation, creativity, problem solving, among other, and all are needed for math and other academic skills.

    Let's support parents by giving them tools and encouragement. Strengthening families is the only way we can have a healthy society.

    I'll get off my soapbox now and agree that your little one sleeping while reading is soooo cute! And I like that you are encouraging your children to look outside of themselves...that is so emotionally healthy for them.

  3. Great thoughts there, Libby. I'm glad you took time to read the article and provided your comments.

    I agree with you. Strengthening families is the only way to have a healthy society. Parents have a big role in a child's development. And there are different tools and research out there for us parents.

    There are benefits of structured play, and unstructured play. Kids will always be curious and creative, and they should be able to express themselves, however, there are some "strict" moments where parents have to stay on schedule to get some progress.

    There are so many schools. Some families are privileged to take advantage of them, some are not. And to those who are, the more information one has about one school or institution, the better the decision as far as what school to send their kids to.

    With regard to my little guy. He loves to read, and depending on the books, he can read pages and pages until his eyes close. (As you can see from this picture that my husband took)

    Thank you for your feedback.

    @Together We Save, thank you :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this amazing blog about Socio Emotional Development. Keep sharing.

  5. The GOOD PUPPY Children's Behavioral & Emotional System provides parents, teachers & therapists, the tools they need to build a healthy structure that helps children thrive. The system is recommended for children, ages 3 to 9." Child Reward Chart #Behavior Chart For Kids #Good Behavior Chart, #Kids Behavior Charts, #Child Behavior Therapy, #Child Behavioral Tools, #Child Emotional Tools, #Behavioral Tools For Parents. #Kids Behavior Charts


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