Every Harmony child care centre provides an environment mindfully designed to help your child grow into the best version of themselves. We call this the Harmony Difference, and we have integrated these ideals into every facet of our child care services.
From the time your child is born, until they reach age five, their brain is constantly making connections and assimilating new information, learning to interact with the world around them and developing their motor skills.
Every activity, no matter how small, presents an opportunity to build upon and strengthen those skills. The basic skills that your child learns in these years set the stage for their future development. A strong foundation is critical to enabling them to be confident and successful as they grow older.
Our talented and dedicated staff know that the services that we provide at Harmony child care centres are crucial to nurturing your child during their early development years. But your child’s learning journey does not stop when they return home at the end of each day – there is plenty that you can do as a parent to support your child’s development and make the most out of every day of their young lives.
Here are 4 ways to give your child’s development a head start.
1. Make craft projects that support their sensory development
If your child loves to play with feathers and glue, then making craft projects is a highly effective way to accomplish several developmental goals at the same time. Arts and crafts stimulate your child’s creativity, as well as many other cognitive areas.
For example, when you make a poster board of the alphabet using markers, feathers, macaroni noodles, and pipe cleaners with your child, you are helping them to:
- Learn how the letters of the alphabet are formed
- Exercise their creativity and imagination
- Hone their senses of touch, sight, and maybe even smell
- Practice their fine motor skills
Many craft projects can be used to achieve similar ends. Colouring in a zoo-themed colouring book could help your child learn to identify colours and animals, while practicing their fine motor skills.
Painting with watercolours can help them to learn how to follow steps and instructions while encouraging them to be creative. The more involved you are in helping your child through an activity – without completing it for them, of course – the greater opportunity there will be for your child to learn and grow!
2. Label Household Items
Selecting and labelling several items in your home can help your child to learn to recognise letters at an early age, which may help them to learn to read and spell more easily as they get older.
Rather than labelling every item lying around the house, choose a small handful (three or four) to label in clear handwriting, and use the same sticker or label style for each item so that the labels are easily identifiable by your child. Every two months or so, switch to several new items.
Even though your child may be too young to read, placing labels on things that they recognise shows them that the alphabet can be used to name everything in the world around them. As they grow older, you can use the labels to help them to identify letters and the sounds that they make. Over time the labels will help to reinforce your child’s reading skills as they begin to develop.
3. Play “I Spy” or Other Similar Games
As your child begins to identify letters, numbers, and adjectives, you can reinforce those skills by playing small games of “I Spy” or having scavenger hunts throughout your day. In addition to helping to keep your child entertained during errands or other mundane tasks, you will be helping your child to actively recognise letters of the alphabet or build confidence in their counting skills.
Here are a few examples:
- You can play “I Spy” to ask your child to recognise characteristics of items, ranging from colour to texture and everything in between. When your child incorrectly identifies an item, gently steer them towards an accurate descriptor and ask them to try again.
- When you are at the grocery store, ask them to help you count out items to put in your shopping cart.
- Sending your child on mini scavenger hunts can reinforce the same skills. Ask them to find several items that have something in common. You could tell them what to find – for example, find three objects that are bumpy – or let them choose the adjective that they want to use. When they’ve brought the items back, ask them to explain to you why the three items are the same.
These are just a few examples of simple games that you can play to help your child have fun without realising that they are learning at the same time!
4. Talk About Local Places
Every day you walk your child into the grocery store, past the dry cleaners, through the neighbourhood, and so many other places. Why not take advantage of a valuable opportunity to help them learn a little bit more about the world around them?
Whenever you pass a new place, ask your child questions about it and help them to learn the answers.
When you pass the police station, for example, ask your child if they know what that building is. If they recognise that it is the police station, ask them if they know what the police officers do every day. Ask them if they know why police officers do their jobs, what they wear, what police dogs are for, why they have sirens on their car, or whatever else you can think of.
Even if your child does not know the answers to all of your questions, trying to come up with a response will exercise their cognitive reasoning skills. Turning the answer to one question into a second question will strengthen their ability to draw connections between related details. And, in addition, they will be learning information relevant to the world around them.
Almost any activity can be transformed into an opportunity to help your child learn and grow. Simply being engaged, asking questions, and interacting with your child can support their development. Remember to encourage your child’s curiosity and use it to teach them about the world around them, and you will be on your way to helping them become the best version of themselves!