Children develop every day of their lives until they reach early adulthood, and it’s important that in the early stages of their life that we encourage learning, risk-taking and provide positive outcome models to ensure that they are happy and healthy children. As parents, you are important parts of a child’s early development and you can get involved in a child’s learning in a variety of ways. One of the ways that is often suggested by childcare professionals is instituting a play, talk and learn model at home similar to childcare. It is pretty straightforward and at Child’s Play, we believe this is a great way for kids to continue learning at home.

Use Five Senses

Children are known to be curious creatures, and it is crucial that when we consider at-home activities we consider what senses they will be using. They learn by looking, touching, tasting, hearing and smelling EVERYTHING, so let’s provide activities that help enrich these senses.

Activities can include cooking or baking, building with play dough, or planting flowers in the garden, but it is definitely not limited to just that. By encouraging children to use all of their senses a child can build connection pathways that can be used later to solve more complex learning tasks and will help to understand social cues.

Using Imagination

Encouraging make-believe play, stories and imaginations are important to a child’s social development because this is a demonstration that shows how the child understands the world around them. This is an important part of learning for a child because it shows what they can comprehend and how they comprehend common social interactions and everyday life. Every parent including yourself should promote their kid to participate in make-believe play and imagination and you can encourage this by reading them fairytales, dressing up, making up stories with them and their toys and by talking about your hopes and dreams i.e. When you grow up, where do you want to live?

Encouraging Decision Making

Asking a child to make choices and decisions at such an early stage in their life may seem foolish but will help them understand risks and social interactions. It can be as simple as “What do you want for dinner (pasta or rice)?” or as complex as “What shall we do today?”.  Decision making allows your child to think about their choices, reflect on past experience and then consider their likes and dislikes. It makes them feel respected and important, but if a choice is made that cannot be done that day, as a parent make sure to explain why because that will help them with future decision making.

The Importance of Time

Time is something that when at home you should encourage your three to five-year-olds to interact with. Why? Because it will help them understand how to tell the time, the importance of time and will encourage counting. You can do this by frequently asking them what numbers the clock says and asking them to tell you when they have to be at kindergarten, and how long until that time. Having routines can also help with the overall concept of time, we know that after dinner, comes bath, then after that is storytime, then bed.  By setting up the foundations of how to tell the time early in their development you are allowing your child to be aware of appointments, schedules and deadlines later on in life.

Everyday Experiences

Encouraging your child to be a part of daily activities such as walking the dog or cooking dinner will help your child develop social skills. Even just talking to them while you fold the washing will teach them about colours, textures and shapes which they will later be able to distinguish and verbalise back to you. When considering what to tell your young child, focus on descriptions and labels so that they can later apply this thinking to other activities.

Understand Your Childs’ Conclusions

Sometimes your child may come out with interesting statements and conclusions about events, and this is completely normal. While it might shock you it is best to ask your child how they came to that answer.  Asking how they came to that conclusion will give you a greater understanding of how they think and will prevent you YOURSELF from jumping to other conclusions or playing the blame game. By understanding how they think, you are then able to explain things to them like what is good and what is bad in a way that they will understand.

At Child’s Play, we know that sometimes the simplest things have the greatest outcomes for a child and we hope you do too. So try and put away the technology in your household for an hour a day and engage in stimulating activities with your children. If you have any more questions about how you can help with your child’s early learning, please call one of our facilities to get in touch with an educator.