Should Your Child Specialise This Early?
Excellence in one field indeed requires specialisation. If you want your child to be excellent at playing the piano or basketball, it’s just wise to let your child specialise at his/her young age.
But what if the opposite is also true? What if generalists also excel and even surpass those specialists? Is excellence a result of specialisation or also because of exposure to different fields and interests?
Should your child specialise this early?
Children undergo rapid brain development where millions of neural connections form and the core brain architecture is being built. The early years are actually the ripe period where learning and development should happen. Those early years are also the perfect opportunity to give your child a huge head start.
What kind of head start should you give your child? First, a solid literacy foundation is crucial because it’s how humans get along and how they learn new concepts. It’s also crucial to let your child learn in a rich and nurturing environment (where play and exploration are encouraged).
Notice there that it’s a combination of academics and play. Both educational and government institutions recognised the importance of those two aspects in early childhood development (e.g. Early Years Learning Framework). Literacy has always been important, but we also need to let our children interact with real people, objects and surroundings.
Also notice there that it resembles being a generalist first. This is important because children need to have a “sample” first of many things that are out there before they can choose a focus. This way they will have several options and they can also have a lot more fun along the way. They can even gain a multidisciplinary perspective that’s now becoming more essential in this fast-paced and interconnected world.
To be a specialist or a generalist? The short answer is to be a generalist first and then specialise later. Exposure to different fields and environments will expand your child’s comfort zone. This will also help your child connect the dots and better get along with different people.