Toys and Play in Infancy

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For a baby, an object that we adults term as a “toy” or an activity that we term as “play” has nothing to do with recreation. It is education. A toy is not something which can keep the baby “occupied” if it does not offer a learning.

Play is the chief way that infants learn how to move, communicate, socialise, and understand their surroundings. Play is an important part of the childhood development. Through play children learn about shapes, colours, cause and effect, and themselves. Besides cognitive thinking, play helps the child learn social and motor skills. It is a way of communicating joy, fear, sorrow, and anxiety.

Categories of play are not mutually exclusive; different forms or categories of play may overlap. An understanding of play in many forms can help parents understand its importance for children of all ages. Some specific categories of play are as follows:

·        Physical play.
·        Expressive play.
·        Manipulative play.
·        Symbolic play.
·        Dramatic play.
·        Familiarization play.
·        Games.
·        Surrogate play.

Play reinforces the child's growth and development. Some of the more common functions of play are to facilitate physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and moral development.  Toys are props for learning.  

Consciousness in Infancy

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The sense of Self in an infant is very different from that of an adult. Babies have deep connections, emotions, memories and experiences from the continuum of life. They continue to grow in Self-awareness and Self-realisation through exploration and recognition of their own bodies and the world around them as they are developing their completely active conscious mind.

Your Baby is a Mind Reader

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When you play with a baby, it is learning from you in two different ways.  It uses all its five senses to learn what is on the exterior but the more powerful learning is an internal learning that happens all the time. When you interact with the baby, the baby can actually look into your mind. 

Yes , babies are mind readers!!! There are 9 aspects of your thoughts that the baby absorbs like a sponge. These impressions that the baby takes in forms the structure of how it will develop its own conscious mind when it reaches around the age of 2 or 3 years. The 9 aspects of each of your thoughts that your baby absorbs are:

1] The emotion of the thought

2]The prioritisation structure - value given to the source of data

3] The source of the thought - tendency patterns that gave rise to the thought 

4] The source of the tendency pattern

5] The thinking process put in place for that particular thought to be expressed

6] The factors that went into the thinking process

7] The filtering process of data that form the input for the thought

8] The physical and emotional reactions that are manifesting as a result of the thought  

9] The people of the situations that the thought it

We are bombarded with around 2 million bits of data at any instant of time. Since we have a probability filter in place we process probably 40 to 100 bits of the data. A baby does not have a filter in place as soon as it is born. It learns from the adults how to prioritise and on which basis to filter data; how to process it and there after how to express it. Infancy is the time when it is creating the structure for a conscious operating mind. 

Infancy Milestones

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While parenting an infant, it is very essential to know about the milestones of development that children achieve from birth to 3 years. Some of these milestones are physical, social, emotional and intellectual. Most parents are aware of these milestones and many others take guidance from external resources. Factors important to take into consideration before using milestone chart

1] There are powerful processes that happens in the internal development of a child. Milestones are the expression of the subconscious progress and internal development of a child.

2] Parents have a participatory role in the achievement of these milestones in a child's life. In fact, parents can help by encouraging the child. For this, it is important to keep a record of the child’s developments regularly.

3] Parents who are well informed about milestones tend to get anxious about their baby of they find a delay in achievement. Expectation that leads to anxiety really does not help the parent nor the child. Careful observation is an important part of Infant parenting as long as it does not lead to anxiety and comparison

Two parts of Infant Empowerment

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Little babies develop internally and externally like the prenatal children. However, in the case of infants, parents can see and perceive the external changes. Adults (including parents) tend to get carried away by the overwhelming ‘cuteness’ of a baby’s external form and achievement of milestones like smiling, turning , crawling etc. .  This, however, often leads to an unintended neglect of the internal facets of the baby.
Internal development expresses through external milestones. Internal development includes development of reasoning, emotional processing, conscious mind development, thinking structures, belief and value systems, self-realisation and attachment bonding.
External manifestations are physical, social, emotional and intellectual milestones, responsive behaviour, cognition and reactions.

Omnio Infancy Programme educates and empowers parents to support and participate in the holistic development of their infant. It covers all aspects of internal development and guidelines to external expressions. 

Meaning of Infant Education

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“While the first two years of a child's life are spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self", most children are able to differentiate between themselves and others by their second year.

This differentiation is crucial to the child's ability to determine how they should function in relation to other people. Parents can be seen as a child's first teacher and therefore an integral part of the early learning process.” – Wikipedia.

“Childhood attachment processes that occur during early childhood years, i.e. 0–2 years of age, can be influential to future education. With proper guidance and exploration children begin to become comfortable with their environment, if they have that steady relationship to guide them. Parents who are consistent with response times and emotions will properly make this attachment early on. If this attachment is not made, there can be detrimental effects on the child in their future relationships and independence.

There are techniques that parents and caregivers can use to establish these relationships, which will in turn allow children to be more comfortable exploring their environment. 

Academic Journal References provide experimental research on the emphasis on care giving effecting attachment.”

Education for young students can help them excel academically and socially. With exposure and organized lesson plans children can learn anything they want to. The tools they learn to use during these beginning years will provide lifelong benefits to their individual success.

“Developmentally, having structure and freedom, children are able to reach their full potential.” – Wikipedia.

 Our scriptures have defined human development through Sanskaras and guidance for teaching and learning through spiritual development.

“Infant education is all about laying the strongest foundations in a baby, for all future life processes- student and adult”. 

Significance of Infant Empowerment

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Infancy is a period of Super Learning. Every impression sealed in an infant forms the basic programming code upon which the experiences of life then get expressed. Rightfully, Infancy has the potential to define / redefine human life. Apart from preconception and pregnancy stages, infancy is a golden opportunity for parents to co create the destiny of their child.

Participating in Infant education is not only rewarding but highly satisfying for a parent. Unlike the preconception and pregnancy period, in infancy parents receive feedback from their baby and the interaction becomes a very sensorial transaction. Parents therefore remain motivated towards activities and repetitions are also comes without effort since the baby can give a different reaction every time. Infant education helps to convert the parent and child nature bond to a more evolved attachment bond.

Nature bond is the instinctive parenting sense that is triggered in parents upon giving birth to a child. It is often mistaken to be “love”. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the minds and emotions of the parent and is crucial for the survival of the baby and existence of the human race. Parenting based on nature bond is helpful for parents during infancy until the child is around 6 years of age. To continue effectively in the role of parenting, a role which demands dynamic change along with the age of the child, parents need to evolve into intentional teachers and create an attachment bond with their baby. In the long term, attachment bond is the most essential factor that can assure a successful and peaceful parenting journey.