From the very first moment a parent holds a child, the mother or father knows that this little thing is a very definition of love. Throughout our lives, parents want to give us the best upbringing, education, and as a result – the future. When we speak about learning, the first thing that comes to mind is school. However, education begins much earlier than that. That's where early childhood learning comes in.
Early childhood learning is essential for parents to lay the foundation for future education at a very early age of a little one. It is not as much about knowledge as it is about curiosity and love for learning and getting to know the world. In order not to miss this precious moment, start educating a little one as soon as possible.
There are many ways which kids use to get familiar with the surrounding world. However, one method has proven to be one of the best so far. Playing – is an exciting and efficient way to ensure a child’s learning.
By the time kids are five years of age, their brain is developed by 90%. One of the keys that ensure a child's development is play. In fact, playing is skillful and helps a child to develop emotionally, physically, and cognitively. Their skills to form bonds with other people evolve as well. Little ones think, analyze, try, fail, and then try again.
Today I will give you the idea of how you can help your child develop through play. We will be looking closely into the peculiarities of children of different ages and kinds of activities you can do. Shall we?
Early Childhood Learning
All stages of a child's development have specific characteristics. Knowing them will help you find the right time and ways to help children in their development.
Younger Infants. In this period, a baby is interested in things that surround a little one. Self-preservation instincts help a child to get all the things it needs for life.
You can see them through cues that a child displays. Meaning you see that a baby is hungry, overstimulated, tired, etc.
This period is characterized by emotive communication (laughter and weeping). A little one observes your face and movements, listens to your voice and gathers information about the world.
Here are things that will be useful for playing with the baby:
- Talk and read books to a little one;
- Show a child black and white pictures (the contrast is essential for children because, at a very early age, they mostly see silhouettes of thing and people);
- Describe actions and comment on everything you are doing with the baby;
- Verbalize feelings: That is funny, isn’t it?
- Play “Peek-a-Boo," "Where's Your Nose?" etc.
- Nursery rhymes
- Show faces
Children are very different, and so is their reaction. Some kids simply stare at you because they are trying to understand what is going on with you.
It is a normal reaction, so please don’t think that you bore your child. They are simply trying to comprehend the information.
Older Infants. As time passes and children become older, you will see how genuinely interested they are in the world around them. A child is fascinated with the things and landscapes it sees from the stroller.
Apart from this, kids start taking an interest in toys and other things that catch their attention. They move their heads from side to side, focus attention on one object, and try to reach for it.
Besides, you should know that a child's almost-hobby is to throw things. They take toys or other objects in their hands and then throw them to the ground. Most people think that children keep dropping things because of their clumsiness.
Kids do this because they find this activity to be entertaining, even though you might be tired of bending down to get the toy ten times every two minutes.
Here is what you can do with the baby:
- Disrobe your actions and the result: "You pushed the button, and the music started playing!"
- Learn new words by describing things and actions;
- Encourage a child to look for the solutions and resolve problems on its own;
- Talk through emotions: "You feel sad because you have lost your toy."
- Praise a child for doing a good job when a little one has put some effort into doing something.
It is the time when children gain new skills. At this age, children obtain language skills; they communicate with other people and learn to feel themselves as a part of a group. They learn things and get to know the world by touching and tasting whatever it can. Tactile contact helps to get familiar with the object.
Children need more attention for they cannot stay still for a long time. Therefore, think of securing your house so that a little one would not get hurt.
You can help by:
- Letting a child experience the world around it. For instance, instead of saying “No” to taking cutlery, just let a kid take a look at what these shiny things are. Be there and look after a child. It is much better to satisfy a little one’s curiosity together, rather than be afraid that a kid will do it on its own and maybe even get hurt;
- Encourage a child's perseverance and wish to evolve;
- Praise a child's ambitions and promote it’s physical skills: “Thank you for helping me to clean up the mess. You are very strong!”
- Teach a child to respect the needs of other people.
At this age, children have a better understanding of who they are, who you are, and what the world is. Talk to children in a manner that would make them think (use open-ended questions) and use more descriptions to enrich their vocabulary.
Be patient and answer all of the questions that a little one will ask. Remember that parents are the most reliable source of information for children. Help children build a connection between the concepts and physical items.
Here is what you can do:
- Ask a child to explain the reasons or ideas behind its actions: “Why did you choose these colors for your beautiful picture?”
- Talk through the child's feelings and emotions. Kids feel the same feelings that adults do. The only difference is that you know what you feel, and you know how to control it. Children are new to their emotions and control. They can express their feelings verbally, but not always orally. Help children understand themselves better.
- Help to develop problem-solving skills. “Let’s draw a circle. How do we make it of a perfect shape?”
- Ask them about their games and leave the questions open, so that a kid could dwell on its explanation.
- Help develop social skills and bonds: "Why don't you color this book together?"
- Describe what you see.
With the float of time, and a little help with early childhood learning, children become more experienced, and their games become complex. They recognize things and phenomena, understand themselves better, create patterns, and apply knowledge and experience.
- Use science and terms that a child will understand. Instead of learning them by heart, help a child understand them. A little one needs to build a connection between the concept and a phenomenon;
- Introduce new and a little more complex vocabulary while playing the game;
- Introduce a child to science and the fundamental law of physics.
- Encourage a child to write while they are playing. Child's fine motor skills are only one of the first stages of their development. Ask a child to write a prescription if you are pretending to be a doctor. When you roleplay the situation at a restaurant, ask a child to write some short names of the menu's dishes.
- Ask open-ended questions and develop a conversation.
- When it comes to making decisions, ask your child for their opinion. A little one will feel important and equal.
Mini Little Bears
You can find whatever you want just by pressing the button at the age of technologies and the internet. The cyber-world has so many activities and programs to offer that you might need ages to go through all of them. Luckily, children are growing fast, and there is no need to go through all of the material that the internet has to offer.
Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, many schools are working online. One such school is The Blue Bear School of Music. It is a school for children of all ages.
Today, there are Zoom sessions for children aged six months – 5 years of age. Children have an opportunity to create music, sing, dance, work in a team, and socialize. Music plays a significant role in our lives and is an essential part of early childhood learning.
Fun Games For Child's First Year
While we are on the topic of playing games, here are some that can help you create an early childhood learning environment for your little one.
It is more about the emotional bond. Cuddling and holding a baby close to you is essential, for, in such a way, you can show your love. Besides, whenever a child is in a playful mood, a little one will have a good laugh while swirling with you around the room.
The same as you reed the child's cues and interpret its gestures, the baby can understand yours. Whenever a little one smiles at you – smile back, repeat different gestures, and sounds. Whenever a little one "coos" or "says" anything else, try imitating these sounds.
Children love nursery rhymes, especially when they involve clapping and playing around. Not only do these games are a lot of fun, but they also develop important skills.
"Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker's man, bake me a cake as fast as you can. Pat it and roll it and mark it with 'B.' And put it in the oven for baby and me."
The rhyme and the tune influence child's language development. Tactile contact – whenever you hold a child's hands – is what helps a little one adapt and stimulate the sense of touch. Besides, kids will start imitating the moves. It will influence the child's hand-eye coordination positively.
Where is Your Nose?
Ask a child, "Where is your nose?" adding melody to your voice. After, gently touch the baby's nose and say, "There is your nose!" while making your words sound like a song. Repeat this game and ask a little one about other body parts.
Play with Fabric
The environment is critical. Therefore help a little one discover it. Give a child different pieces of fabric (satin, corduroy, velvet, etc.) that have a different texture. Let a child hold them so that a little one could feel the difference.
Also, it is advisable to buy stuffed animals with different fillers, so that the materials would feel differently as you touch them.
It will help children understand the world and build up muscle strength (as they will be waving fabric in the air).
Shake it up!
Rattles are very popular among children, especially infants. They help them focus their sight on one object, react to the sound, and look for the source. Take a rattle and shake it near the baby.
Move it to the different sides and then hide it behind the baby. A little one will be looking for the rattle and turn its head from side to side. These movements help to strengthen the child's muscles and improve reflexes.
People are complex creatures, but even their complexity has patterns. Children may look and act in a very chaotic way, but the more time you spend together, the better you understand them. The suggestions above will help you learn about the age's peculiarities and decide which activity will be the best for a little one.
Apart from spending time with your child and trying to give a little one as much attention as you can, use what the internet can provide you. Tons of different games, courses, and things that a child will find interesting are available online. Therefore, find some time in your schedule to look for games and activities for your baby and give the best early childhood learning.
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