We want to teach our children to become the very best that they can be, and helping their mental development when very young is a vital part of that. What happens during baby’s first five years can influence how well he or she learns throughout life. We share our tips…
Parenthood nowadays is very different to what it used to be, or so you might think. After all, now we have education TV shows, electronic toys, screens and more… shouldn’t you be taking advantage of it? Well, the answer is yes and no. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to use new high-tech solutions to teach your baby to develop. Putting your child in front of a screen will not necessarily help their brain development, especially if it replaces important one-on-one time.
Talking to, and playing with, your baby is still vital to baby’s brain development and curiosity; that’s not to say that educational TV shows can’t help baby, but they should be alongside parental contact. You need to show baby that you love and care for him or her; that love will do wonders to encourage their development.
At the same time, toys can help baby to slowly make sense of the world and his environment. The key is to choose toys that are appropriate for their age and developmental status, so as not to frustrate them. Babies will be fascinated with noise and movement, so choose relevant toys to stimulate them. As they get older, include texture and toys they can touch. By nine months, simple puzzles that encourage them to interact or add colors and shapes should work well. Let’s look at specific things you can do for your child at each age to help their mental development, beginning with the first six months after birth.
Birth to Six Months
Slowly move objects in front of baby’s eyes so he or she can see them clearly. Pull silly faces, sing nursery rhymes and tickle baby; all will keep baby occupied. Narrate your activity to baby; this talking will help your child to learn speech later on, and allow him or her to touch objects with different textures and stack blocks, allowing him to knock them over.
Six to 18 Months
Make sure you interact one-on-one with baby; talk to him or her and sing songs with repetitive verses. This is the time at which baby begins to make associations between words and sounds.
18 to 24 Months
Encourage your child’s development with simple recognition games, such as asking them to identify the red flower or give you the blue box. Ask your toddler simple questions when reading to them – ‘where is the red flower? What did the kangaroo say?’ – and give children access to paper and drawing tools. Talk directly to your child as much as possible to help their speech.
24 to 36 months
By now, your child should be happy with independent play and is perfecting motor skills. A good technique to encourage their learning is to introduce real life activities into play time; this could be as simple as urging your child to talk on a pretend phone or to cook food on a pretend hob. Continue reading to your child and point out words as you say them.
Three to Five
Don’t allow your child more than one to two hours of television a day at this age; instead, offer the choice of reading a book, doing a puzzle or exploring new experiences. Sit each day and ask your child what he or she did today.