Our entire world changes when a new baby arrives. The first year is full of new experiences, challenges and giggles. Children develop and grow rapidly in their first 5 years across the 4 main areas of development - Motor, Language, Cognitive & Social/Emotional.
From our experience we know that babies enjoy the box as much as the toy that comes in it. There was a time when we had a collection of delivery boxes in which the toys were delivered. Toys are of course fun for kids, but the right ones will also help them in their overall growth and development.
If we look at one of the areas of early childhood development, Cognitive development refers to how children think, explore, figure things out & develop problem solving ability. As parents we can help our child’s cognitive development by incorporating few activities in their everyday routine. A few things that we can incorporate in our routine are -
- Sing Songs Together: Play the child’s favourite songs in the house/car and sing along with them and encouraging them to sing too. This will help promote memory & word identification along with added joy of listening to their giggles
- Identify Noises: Help the child identify the sounds they hear throughout the day. This will enable them to relate to objects in their everyday environment.
- Practise Alphabets, Counting, identifying shapes & Colors: Sing “alphabet song” with the kid and help them identify the letters. Count along with them the number of shoes in the shoe rack, number of steps while climbing up & down the stairs, number of slides while in the park. When interacting with the kid identify colors & shapes like red car, blue bike, yellow round ball, black rectangle bag, pink square cushion.
- Give choices: Whenever & wherever possible, offer the kid with choices and prompt them to make thoughtful decisions. For example, rather than commanding the kid to clean the room, ask them what they would like to pick up first - books, blocks or toys. Ensure the choices we give are limited and specific.
- Expand the child’s interest: Help the child expand their interest in specific learning activities by visiting places like museums/ library/ market/ farm etc. to stimulate their curiosity and provide them with hands-on experiences. Ask questions while exploring and listen to their response and reaction.
Play a variety of games with everyday items: It is education, fun and cost effective to play with everyday items. This also develops a sense of creativity in the child. Below are a few games/activities which will make interaction between you and your kids:
- Ask your child to match various sized lids to their accompanying pots.
- Look into the mirror and ask your kid to point to his nose, ear, eyes, etc.
- Improve your toddler’s sensory ability by allowing them to touch alphabets made from different textures.
- Label a few items like windows, curtains, chairs in the house. Reinforce this concept daily and in due course the kid will be able to identify the words independently.
A child should be allowed to explore different ways of solving problems. Allow them some time to figure things out like a new puzzle even though you may want to provide some encouragement and gentle guidance. Though the above methods require a lot of patience from parent’s end, it will help the kid learn and have fun at the same time.