There are many ways caregivers can enhance children’s ability to learn from birth to age three. During the first three years of life, the child’s brain is being developed at a rapid pace. Through effective communication and age appropriate activities, children can reach their fullest potential.
• Play vocal imitation games with the baby. For example, if the infant is smiling and making sounds, imitate the sound back, sitting face to face.
• Sing songs and read nursery rhymes. Babies can pick up on both patterns and changes in vocal tone and volume. These activities develop neural connections in the baby’s brain.
• Read books to the baby daily that are age appropriate for their level of development.
• Talk to your baby. Point out things around them. Talk to them and sing to them while feeding them and while changing their diaper.
• Respond to the baby in positive and compassionate ways. When the baby is crying, respond with sensitivity and patience. A bond is being developed during the infancy stage between baby and caregiver.
• Make everyday experiences more meaningful. Talk to your toddler about events, for example, about a trip to the grocery store. Ask open ended questions before, during and after the event. For example, talk about what foods they can see and their colors, practice counting items, etc. Routine trips can be educational.
• Encourage your child to talk by praising them constantly for any attempts made towards words.
• Provide an array of toys such as blocks, large Legos, toys with patterns and textures. Changing toys and putting out a few at a time will help with exploration of new skills. Initiate play then pause and watch your toddler play themselves or with other children. Monitor to be sure the toddlers are playing safely.
• Enroll toddler in a play group for socialization.
• Engage children in art activities such as simple collages, finger painting, painting on an easel, and using crayons. Fine motor skills are being developed for writing later.
• Read books. Point to pictures in the books and ask child what objects are. Ask open ended questions before, during and after while reading a story.
• Take child to museums, the zoo, to the beach, the grocery store, etc. Enroll them in a play group. Provide them with as many enriching early experiences as possible. Point things out in the community and in day to day routines. All of these activities support healthy brain development and function.