As a parent, you want your child develop in all of the important ways – like their language, math, and social skills.

You want to encourage and support their early learning with the right approaches.

Most of all, you want your child to have the best opportunity to become the greatest version of themselves.

Being actively engaged with your child’s early learning will help them progress positively in their social, behavioural, and core skills like language and math. Not only that, your involvement as a parent helps your child feel loved, connected, and appreciated, which in turn, furthers their confidence in learning and in life.

Magda Gerber, the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) and inspiration for our work here at Harmony, tells us that, “An authentic child is one who feels secure, autonomous, competent, and connected. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.”

As a parent, you are directly linked to contributing to your child’s confidence, competence, and connection with the world. In fact, your involvement directly affects the educational outcome of your child. Australia’s Department of Education and Training shares that, “Parent engagement is associated with improvements across a range of indicators, including better education outcomes, better behaviour, and increased social skills.”

So, as a parent, what can you do to support your child’s early learning?

With everything on your plate as a parent, it may be difficult to know how to incorporate learning at home or where to find the best approaches to early childhood learning.

To help, we’ve compiled 5 simple and effective ways to support your child’s early learning.

After reading this post, you’ll be familiar with proven methods of enhancing your child’s early learning along with easy ways to put these techniques into action. While it’s valuable to know the best approaches for child development, it’s even more critical to implement them into your routine and family life.

Feel free share these ideas with grandparents or other family members and caregivers, so they can be involved with your child’s learning as well. The more active participation in your child’s learning, the more positive outcomes for your child.

  1. Implement learning into daily activities

mplement learning into daily activities

How It Works:

Without adding activities to your busy schedule, you can foster a robust learning environment by implementing educational elements into normal daily activities.

Math, language, and social skills can all be incorporated into regular tasks and activities, from humming while you rock your baby to sleep to talking through bathtime to counting as you walk up the steps.

When you add talking or counting to an activity, routine tasks become beneficial learning experiences and prepare your child for literacy and numeracy.

Why It Works:

Integrating talking and learning into daily activities gives your child more opportunities to absorb information and connect with the world. Within a child’s first few years, they have an incredible capacity to learn, especially in the areas of speech and language development.

Continually exposing your child to talking, music, sounds, numbers, and stories will help maximise their early years of development.

Simple Ideas to Put It Into Action:

  • Talk through activities: When you are feeding, bathing, or going somewhere with your child, talk through what you are doing. Drawn them in and make them an active participant.
  • Sing to your child or rock them to music: You can sing simple songs, play music, clap, or repeat nursery rhymes to encourage the development of rhythm and speech.
  • Point things out: Share the world with your child by pointing out new things, including letters, animals, shapes, numbers, and toys.
  • Story-tell: When you’re playing with toys or en route to an appointment, tell stories to your child. Make it fun by adding different voices or animal noises.
  • Count, measure, sort: Whether you’re playing with blocks or preparing breakfast, be sure to count out loud and engage your child with measuring and sorting when they’re at the appropriate age.

As your child gets older, continue to implement math, reading, and language skills into your routine (i.e. discuss the math involved with the weather, sports, money, or cooking recipes).

  1. Read to (and with) your child

How It Works:

Read to and with your child as often as you can, with the goal being 3-6 times weekly. Make it focused, quality time spent together. Try not to rush the process or make your child feel that reading together is not important.

You can also use picture books with large colourful images. Talk aloud to your child while describing the pictures or making up stories.

Why It Works:

Reading to and with your child is one of the most effective ways to further their language learning. Opening a book for even just a few minutes a day will advance their development. Children of all ages find that reading is exciting, fun, and comforting.

According to a University of Melbourne study published in 2012, “Parental reading to children increases the child’s reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10–11. This is an early-life intervention that seems to be beneficial for the rest of their lives.”

Simple Ideas to Put It Into Action:

  • Set aside dedicated time for reading: Create a reading routine, at a time of day that works for you and your child. Use colourful picture books and engage your child with pointing and describing.
  • Use a variety of stories: Read stories from a book, develop your own stories from pictures, incorporate fun voices, or use puppets. Most of all, keep it fun! Pay attention to what method your child enjoys most.
  • Add other elements: You can further your child’s development in other areas, like math, by reading stories that include numbers (i.e. One Fish Two Fish, Three Blind Mice).
  • Have your child pick: Once your child is old enough, ask which books they’d like to read!

For excellent reading tips and tricks from Melissa at CloudMom, watch her 4 minute video here:

  1. Build upon what your child enjoys

Kids Playing in Nature

How It Works:

Pay special attention to what your child is interested in, and ask your child care centre if they’ve noticed any activities that your child has particularly enjoyed. This will give you insight into what your child is naturally drawn to.

With this knowledge, you can enhance your child’s learning progression by offering them opportunities to interact with what interests them. Simple activities involving what they enjoy are great launching points for development in speech, counting, and science.

Why It Works:

Giving your child opportunity to engage in what they enjoy, builds their love and interest in learning. In essence, you are supporting their development by supporting who they are. With this approach, you are personalising your child’s learning in a fun way.

Simple Ideas to Put It Into Action:

Depending on what your child is interested in, you may consider…

  • Taking your child to a new place (i.e. the zoo, the park)
  • Reading books about that subject
  • Playing related music
  • Playing dress-up
  • Buying a related toy, instrument, or stuffed animal
  • Building with blocks
  • Dancing to music
  • Spending more time outdoors
  1. Have fun together with quality learning time

 Have fun together with quality learning time

How It Works:

Set aside quality time to interact with your child in a fun and personalised manner. Involve play, movement, and music when you can.

Why It Works:

A critical aspect of enhancing early learning is to make it fun, relaxing, and enjoyable for you and your child. One of the ways children learn best is through play with their parents.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Education shares that, “You are your child’s first and most important teacher and you help your child’s brain grow through play and early learning.”

Your child loves to spend time with you and ensuring that time is personalised and fun will make it more meaningful and effective for development.

Simple Ideas to Put It Into Action:

  • Read or share picture books
  • Paint or draw
  • Create with Play-doh
  • Spend time in nature
  • Play music and dance
  • Go to new places together
  • Play games with letters or counting
  • Play dress up
  • Choose toys together

When your child is old enough, ask them what’d they like to do for fun with you! This gives them the reigns and makes them feel important.

For more fun learning ideas to do with your child, visit the New Zealand’s Ministry of Education resource page.

  1. Provide uninterrupted time for independent play and exploration

Insert: Young Child Playing With Instruments

Child Playing With Instruments

How It Works:

Give your child free time on their own to play and explore. Rather than engaging with them directly, allow your child to learn on their own, in their natural state. This time can be indoors or outdoors with toys, games, or nature.

Why It Works:

By giving your child independence to play and learn on their own, you are appreciating them and allowing them to flourish.

A child has natural, innate abilities to learn and explore, and it is healthy to foster this sense of independence and trust you have in them. This also gives you time to observe, appreciate, and learn about your child.

Simple Ideas to Put It Into Action:

  • Set up a play area allow them to use their toys on their own
  • Purchase a water table for them to play with outside
  • Lay a blanket outside with toys
  • Set up a safe area in your lawn or park for your child to explore on their own

Utilise what you know about your child to create play time they will enjoy!

With these ideas in mind, you can effectively support your child’s early learning. Pick one option from the list and try it this week. As time continues, add more learning components and adjust your approach to what works best for your child.

No matter how you decide to support your child’s early learning, know that being engaged is the best possible action to take.

Our educated and experienced child care centre staff are always available to help with further ideas for at-home learning and assisting with your child’s early development. To learn more about our child care centres, schedule a tour today.

Sources used:

https://www.rie.org/educaring/ries-basic-principles/

http://www.magdagerber.org/blog/magda-gerbers-rie-philosophy-basic-principles

https://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/engaging-parents-education

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/parents/primary/201literacymathstips2011.pdf

https://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/engaging-parents-education

http://www.education.govt.nz/early-childhood/teaching-and-learning/learning-tools-and-resources/play-ideas/music/