The incredible thing about children, and particularly babies, is the amazing rate at which they learn.
As a small child everything is new and everything is exciting. Things that seem mundane to an adult can be a fascinating chance to learn for a baby.
So as a parent you need to learn to embrace and enjoy play time. It is a wonderful learning experience and, by being an active part of it, you can help your child to learn and at the same time build life-long bonds between the two of you. OK, so if you’re ready to play, the next question is what game?
Sensations Are Fun
If your child is still very young running around may not be an option. For the first few weeks while muscles are still developing it’s all about making sense of the many stimuli in the world – from touch to light.
You can help your baby to meet various stimuli by using different objects (touch and sight), noises (hearing) and by blowing gently or touching lightly.
Of course it’s also no secret that babies like to test out their sense of taste, too. This is fine, and it’s also an important part of building his/her immune system, but as the parent part of your job is to make sure the taste tests are limited to non-toxic items!
Playing a Side Role
Playing is a lot of fun, naturally, but sometimes you need to let your child play alone. You can watch and play a supporting role, but try not to dive in and “help” more than is needed.
Allowing your child to learn to problem solve independently is important, and sometimes a well meant helping hand can rob him of the opportunity. Say for instance if he/she is trying to put the square peg in the round hole; give it a minute and let your child find the right solution.
Giving Help Where Due
Of course the above point doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever help and joining in with the game is good, positive reinforcement. Rather than trying to show your child solutions, try to introduce new problems or new games. You could for instance show him how to stack some bricks, and then give him the opportunity to try it out for himself.
This type of “help” is open-ended as it creates new possibilities and encourages creativity, rather than simply ending a game by giving away the answer.
Activity Is Learning, Too
It’s not all about cognitive processes. Children need to learn what their bodies are capable of and they need to develop muscle and coordination. Before your baby even starts crawling you can play games by wiggling his/her legs or arms. Moving objects around will also get his/her eyes moving, for example.
Whatever games you are playing, it is never too early to help your child to gain valuable life skills. Even reading can be taught from an early age so long as you do it in a low pressure and fun way. The key is involvement, so when you read to your toddler, let them turn the pages and look at the words (even if the words don’t mean much).
About The Author
Hi there, my name is James. I am a private tutor, I specialise in early years and I love working in education. I write for UK Tutors, who offer a “find a tutor” service so that you can find the ideal tutor for your children, no matter what their stage of education. Thanks for reading my post!