Don’t forget the easy things!
Giving your child a head start doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort or organisation.
The following eight tips are very simple – indeed you are probably doing most of them already. But though they may be easy, they are also very important for your child’s development. So each time you do one of them, congratulate yourself!
1. Talk to your child all the time – right from the start. Talk about what you see around you; point out colors, words and numbers. Use descriptive language and as they develop ask them questions and encourage them to discuss everything they have done and seen. This will improve their vocabulary, comprehension, general knowledge and confidence and can be easily incorporated into your day.
2. Read to your child – starting from well before they can read. Talk about the story and the pictures and as they grow older start to ask them what they think will happen next, what they liked/didn’t like about the book/characters etc. Above all, always make the reading time warm and welcoming – you want them to associate reading with fun!
3. Tell stories to your child. You can easily make up very simple stories which will enthral them. These help stimulate your child’s imagination, improve their vocabulary and comprehension and should be a lot of fun.
4. Get out and about! Take your child somewhere new – to a beach, a zoo, a museum, on a train etc. New experiences expand children’s horizons and give you a lot of stimuli to talk about and discuss. Life experiences will also give children context when they read or learn about things and this ability to connect will enrich their learning experiences.
5. Play games with your child – word games, number games, board games or computer games. In doing so your child will learn to take turns, to follow instructions, to share and to win and lose gracefully.
6. Sing – songs teach new words and are good for rhythm and memory. There are thousands of fun, educational songs on YouTube (for example, here are some great alphabet songs). Find the ones your child likes and be delighted with how much fun they have with them. Reinforce the topics raised in the songs in your everyday conversations with your child.
7. Go easy on the baby talk. All parents use baby talk to some degree, and there is nothing wrong with this. But make sure you also expose your child to proper adult conversation too. Use rich vocabulary and encourage meaningful conversations. You will be amazed at the speed your child will pick up new words and good conversational habits by observation.
8. Involve numbers in your conversations with your child. For example, at the shops discuss how many items you need to buy and then count them together or when setting the table count the number of forks you’ve put out and decide if you need more. Every time you expose your child to numbers, no matter how simply, you improve their mathematical proficiency.
There you have it. Eight simple, but very important things you can do to give your child a head start. Get started today!