90% of a child’s brain develops by age 5. These early years are when brain connections necessary for successful learning are formed, so the job of helping prepare kids for success – in school and in life – starts the day they’re born.
Young children are growing, learning and changing on a daily basis, and every day presents opportunities for the adults in their lives to actively participate and nurture their healthy development.
Infants are constantly seeing and experiencing things for the very first time. Share language, songs, stories and pictures about these new experiences. Talk with them about the bright yellow sunflowers that are growing outside of the window. Let them touch the petals while describing the softness of the textures. Exposing babies to a variety of unique words and experiences helps create brand new brain connections that will later develop into learning pathways.
With children who are verbal and can extend their thoughts and responses, asking open-ended questions is a great start. Rather than simply asking, “What color is that?” try instead, “Tell me about the colors you see.” This simple shift allows for creative explanation, imagination and language.
Engaging in conversation is another way to advance a child’s development. Back-and-forth dialogue extends children’s higher-order thinking skills, and your feedback offers them the chance to move beyond where they are to the next level of learning. It also shows them that you care about what they think and feel. Let the child lead, and your conversation may begin with the morning’s breakfast and end on a trip to the moon!
Keep in mind that children’s development occurs naturally through play and exploration, so providing many opportunities for engaging in new discoveries will lead to self-confidence, persistence and problem-solving abilities. These skills take root in the early years and help lay the foundation for a lifetime.
To learn more about how parents and caregivers can support their child’s learning, visit http://www.qualityfirstaz.com/parents-and-families/supporting-your-child/.
Leslie Totten is Quality First Program Director for First Things First.
Share this Today action on Facebook: