This post is contributed.
The idea that education should be left entirely to the schools is one that no parent should subscribe to. After all, we learn from all our experiences in life and the more involved you are in the development of your child’s brain, the more likely they are to grow up knowing how to use it. But that development can start from as early one-year old. Here, we’re going to look at how you give your toddler the head start they deserve by finding fun and easy ways to develop their brain.
Strong and smart are sides of the same coin
The stereotype of the dumb jock is very much a dated thing, even if it does seem you can find examples everywhere. The truth is that growing up active and healthy empowers not just your body but also your mind. Raising your child in the healthiest way possible has huge benefits, from nutritious meals and more interaction with healthy meals as opposed to too much sugar and fat, as well as physical activity like unstructured play in safe spaces. Brain plasticity, which is its ability to change and grow over time, can improve with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day. This can improve memory, brain volume, and even the mood of your child.
What a difference a book makes
It may be no surprise to you that reading is very, very good for your child’s development. First of all, it’s an easy way to incorporate more verbal communication in their life (which we will cover in more detail later). It also improves their ability to maintain focus and concentration on a single thing at a time. Needless to say, engaging their imagination and creativity is just as important. Creativity isn’t just good for the artistic pursuits, it helps us become better at problem-solving in all fields across life. Building a library of books to read to your toddler can help them get a major head start when it comes to literacy levels in school, too.
Talk often and loudly
As mentioned, one of the benefits of reading to your child is simply the act of verbally communicating with them. Talking to your child helps promote brain development in a whole host of different ways. They pick up on so many things intuitively. Not only does speaking to them regularly help build their vocabulary (so you don’t have to dumb down your language too much), but it also helps them grow emotionally, too. As they grow more able to recognise the emotions in others speech, it helps them become more empathetic, improving their communication skills even further. It’s just as important to listen to and validate their attempts to communicate, too, even if they may not be completing full sentences just yet.
Make play a learning experience
There are so many different ways for your child to play, only helped by the growing role of technology. However, before you leave them for hours with a tablet in hand, it may be worth considering what they are getting out of that play. In many animals, including humans, play is essentially how we mimic the skills we will use in later life and is one of the most efficient ways of learning those skills. This blog shows a whole host of toys that aren’t just fun for them, but also bring with them real learning value and skills that they can apply in later life. Choose toys that engage them mentally and creatively. They will learn without even knowing it.
Finding their place
We don’t learn and grow in a bubble, but with many others around us. Some of the tips above, like reading and talking to your child, can help them learn emotional intelligence. But socializing not just with you and other older family members but other children can be just as important. There are plenty of ways to socialize your toddler, as shown in this post. Casual gatherings with other parents and children can help. In preparing for the education experience, finding a preschool can help them get used to structure and the role that grown-up authorities other than you will have to play in their further development, as well.
Empower them emotionally
We’ve mentioned emotional intelligence, but what is it exactly and what else can you do to foster its growth? Essentially, its their ability to recognise different emotions not just in others but themselves. For instance, the lesson of delayed gratification, which involves not taking what rewards come easy but investing the time and effort into greater reward, is an example of emotional intelligence. By recognising the source and impact of different emotions, children are better able to cope with difficult or stressful situations in life. This article shows a variety of ways to help grow your child’s emotional intelligence over time, such as giving them the time and quiet they need to express their emotions and growing an emotional vocabulary, so they can learn the difference between “sad”, “upset”, and “disappointed”, for instance.
Appreciate the effort
One important lesson to learn is that we fail from time to time. Rather than expecting perfection, it has been shown that praising a child’s effort with new activities and challenges will not only raise their self-esteemm but can make them more likely to try again in the future. An important part of helping your child grow is not only by providing praise but substantial praise. If they have done something good, you should express what they have specifically done and why you’re praising them for it. This helps them understand the cause and effect of positive actions and changes, rather than creating a simple action and reaction that they are less likely to learn from.
Simply being involved in the learning process, whether it’s communicating or choosing the right toys, helps teach your child so much about the world. More importantly, it can teach them how to learn, how to approach problems and the value of finding solutions.