1. Talk to your baby. From birth, your child is ready to communicate and build relationships. Have fun with rhymes, songs and stories. Talk to them about what you are doing and leave space in between for the obligatory coos and gurgles – early learning all starts here!
2. Try to see things from your child’s point of view. What might seem simple to adults (colours, shapes, puzzles, letters and sounds) requires a complex set of skills to master and understand when you’re coming across them for the very first time.
Value of communication
3. Value what children say. Attentive and sensitive adults encourage children to communicate, letting them know that what they say, think and feel is important.
4. Communication is such a vital skill and one that your child will not learn in isolation. Remember that what you say and how you say it is teaching your child indirectly how to communicate with others.
5. Join the library together. There are fantastic resources, activities and events at local libraries. It’s a great way of spending time together, away from the usual hustle and bustle. You’ll be hard pressed to find such an inspirational learning place.
6. Don’t waste money on ‘educational’ toys. Nurseries and pre-schools provide the experiences and resources they do based on sound educational theories about how young children learn. Painting, block-play, role play, puzzles, books, sand and water – these are the basics; children will do the rest through their imaginations, and thoughtful adult involvement.
The great outdoors
7. Go outside! The outdoors offer children an amazing range of interest and possibilities. It encourages physical development and emotional well-being and stimulates children’s natural curiosity and disposition to learn.
8. Allowing children to freely explore, without worrying about getting dirty or ruining expensive clothes, provides them with fantastic opportunities to learn. Mud kitchens, splashing in puddles, splatter-painting and sensory play, all offer children experiences that help them learn.
9. Cooking or baking together provides a huge amount of learning possibilities. From talking about quantities, to discussing the change in texture and consistency of the mixture, or thinking about the length of time in the oven – numbers, language, science, social development are all valuable learning experiences whilst you have fun cooking with your little one!
Read and enjoy stories together
10. Bring your child’s favourite stories to life with funny voices and lively interpretations. Talk about the story, guess what might happen next, or offer alternative endings to surprise each other with.
11. There are some great programmes for young children and, whilst there’s no substitute for two-way communication, there is still some learning taking place when children are engaged and interested – just don’t forget this won’t be much longer than half an hour, to an hour.
Don’t forget dads!
12. Whether it’s dads, granddads or uncles…male role models provide very different experiences in a child’s life. Outdoors, rough and tumble play, doing jobs together… it’s not about stereotyping, it’s just about valuing what they bring to children’s lives.
You can tweet Julie @villagetrafford, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/villagenursery or view The Village Nursery’s website – www.village-nursery.co.uk for further information.