Tips for early learning that help prepare children for school success
These common-sense ideas help parents and caregivers work with infants and toddlers to get them on the early-learning band-wagon.
With the big push for children to succeed as they enter school, where is a parent to start? Actually, working with a child to promote early learning can start soon after the birth of the child. We know bonding is very important, and before we go on to learning, bonding with parents needs to take place and should continue. Going back to learning, there are steps parents and caretakers can take to promote early learning.
In our daily interaction with the child, we need to be very intentional in how we go about our day. Putting intentional play into our daily routine is one sure way that it takes place on a regular basis. Repetition is also important. The more we repeat it, the more likely the child will sooner or later attempt to mimic what we do or say.
One of the first things a parent or caregiver can do is look for communication signs from their baby. Start by repeating the sounds they make and their attempts at saying words back to your baby. Read, sing, read rhymes and talk about what you are doing or what your baby is doing.
For a child to develop thinking skills, provide an assortment of toys and experiences. Learning to problem solve does not need to come from store-bought toys. Large tubes where an object can be dropped to see what happens can be fun to an 11-month old. An interesting toy covered with a washcloth for baby to find, nesting different size plastic containers, tubes sealed tightly and filled with water, salt, or other things that provide different sound effects can be fun, too. Play with mirrors (babies love them). Pans/lids with no sharp edges are great to make loud sounds, and baby is not only developing eye-hand coordination but learning cause and effect.
It is also important to follow the child’s lead. Children are fascinated by newly performed actions and will tend to repeat them. The more they repeat it, the better they get at it. Once the child gets pretty good at it, they’ll move on to some other more interesting experience. Parents who are involved with their children on a regular basis will be delighted to see their children as they move through the milestones of development.
For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.