These days raising a child can feel a little like a competition; one which you are destined to lose, no matter how much pressure you put upon yourself and your child. It is important to remember that the speed at which your child learns to walk, communicate and recite the alphabet will not be under anybody’s scrutiny but your own, although it can feel as though other parents are judging your abilities as a mommy every time you leave the house.
That said, early learning is essential when it comes to raising a child; the grounding you give your little one now will stand them in good stead for the future, introduce an array of concepts they will soon come into regular contact with, and give them self-belief, confidence and awareness.
Of course, starting your child’s learning journey from birth will provide a wealth of other benefits, including preparing them for school, encouraging them to interact and engage with the world around them, and introducing bonding time that is so valuable to parents and children.
If you are daunted by the idea of taking charge of your child’s early education, do not worry; there is a good chance you are already doing many of the recommended activities with your child.
How can I encourage early learning in my child?
Children tend to learn via play, and by watching those around them, so be sure to introduce a range of concepts to your little one as they grow and develop; from sensory toys, to more structured games, art-based learning and imagination play.
There is no real limit to the fun you can have. After all, the more fun you make an activity the more your child is likely to take from it. The key for younger children is repetition, while older children will benefit from bonding time and solitary play in equal measures.
Sing and dance
It is likely singing songs, making noises, and reciting nursery rhymes will be some of your new family’s earliest forms of communication. Regardless of how silly you feel chattering away to your baby, remember you are introducing them to language. Besides, nursery rhymes and silly songs, as well as animal noises, are hugely entertaining to babies and young children, and will encourage them to interact with you far more than speaking normally would.
The toys and games that you provide for your baby will go a long way towards establishing their early education; rattles, cloth books, rain makers, building blocks, walkers, activity gyms, teethers, and play mats are all fantastic learning aids at various points in a baby’s development, while brightly colored, noisy items will engage and enthrall.
From birth you should surround your child with a variety of colors and textures, or black and white items to introduce depth and contrast; SkipHop’s collection of play mats and activity gyms are particularly useful for introducing new sights and sounds, and can be used from those very first weeks.
Encourage family learning
Whatever activities you introduce to your baby, be sure to do them together; whether you are reading books, practicing ABCs and 123s, or teaching your child simple actions, make sure that he or she sees you doing it too, and that you are spending uninterrupted time together.
Bonding time is so, so important to children from birth and can help your little one to identify fairly complex processes from a young age. Shapes, colors, numbers, and letters can all be made fun if you use your imagination, so see where your baby’s learning journey takes you both.
Let your child work it out on their own
Helicopter parenting is a term given to those who hover over their child’s shoulder, ensuring they are playing with a toy correctly, or working hard. However, it is often far more beneficial to allow your child to work it out on their own; indeed, allowing a child to get bored, or struggle to work out a problem, can be incredibly good for their early education.
Even babies left to their own devices can learn a lot, although make sure you are never too far away. Remember, a little frustration is good for personal development, so try not to do everything for your baby.
Every day is an adventure for a child, and you will no doubt marvel as your little one learns to tackle the world head on via a series of toys, books, games, and sensory equipment. Every activity that you complete together now will stand your child in good stead for school and, ultimately, adulthood.