Your child’s education begins the day he is born. The U.S. Department of Education and Parents as Teachers recommend activities that will give your baby’s developing mind a head start.
Looking at a sleeping newborn, it’s hard to imagine the progress that this baby will make in a year’s time. He can barely wake up, and his movements are feeble and random. Yet, in less than 12 months, he will learn to understand his native language, and he will develop more new motor skills than at any other time in his life. Babyhood is a time of incredible mental and physical development, but some infants will learn much more than others during this phenomenal year. So much depends on the willingness and ability of parents to teach their little ones. Here are some ways to help your child get ahead on his educational journey.
Talk to him
Begin talking to your baby from the day he is born. He may not understand your words at first, but he is listening. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are some effective ways to start his first language lessons: Repeat his name a lot. Use simple words and repetitive phrases like, “Good baby.” Use gestures when you talk, so your baby will learn to associate words like, “Wave bye-bye,” with an action. Talk to your baby about what you are doing when you dress or bathe him. Ask him questions, even though he can’t answer.
Read to him
Books are available for even the youngest child. They come in tough, soft vinyl, so they can be chewed. Inside are pictures of blocks and toys. Sometimes they will rattle or wheeze when they are squeezed. When a mother takes a baby on her lap and cuddles with him while they look at a book together, he learns that reading is a pleasant experience. When he and mom graduate to story books, he finds out that the book is more than a fun object to play with. It is something that contains stories and ideas.
Sing to him
His first musical education should also be associated with interaction with someone he loves. Listening to simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, accompanied with gestures, teaches him language and motor skills as well as music.
Play with him
When a young mother asked an education expert how she could begin teaching her baby, the expert suggested several activities that would help develop the child’s mind. All of the activities could have been summed up in one sentence: “Play with your baby, and teach him to play by himself.” The expert suggested a game she called “stack and tumble” in which the mother would stack blocks for the baby to knock over. He would come to realize the power of his own hands to interact with objects and cause interesting things to happen. Later, the child could be given the blocks to stack and tumble himself.
Whether you are talking, reading, singing or playing with your baby, your interactions are the basis of his education. According to the organization, Parents as Teachers, these activities play a critical role in a child’s education continuum. If you are diligent in your educational efforts, you will soon see the incredible difference a year can make.