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Top tips on how to develop your child's learning, from birth to one year old

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House Chores  Meal Time  Out and About

 Play Time   Night Time

  

House Chores

'Activities' to explore with your child while doing the house work.
baby with mum in kitchen

When you're folding laundry, take long socks and dangle them above your child's head. Encourage them to try and "capture" the toes of the socks! As they move their arms up and down to reach the socks, you can say, "Up!" and "Down!" to describe their actions.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When you play this game, your child is learning new words as they listen to you describe what they're doing. They're also introduced to important concepts like "up" and "down" through their senses.

While in the kitchen with your child, describe what you're doing, especially if you notice they're interested in something, like pouring water in a bowl or cup. Say things like, "Water goes in the cup". See how they respond. They might look at you and then look at the cup.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When you notice what your child is interested in, you motivate them to learn more about the world around them. As you talk about what you're doing, you introduce them to lots of new vocabulary, and help them make connections between objects and words.

While you clean up the dirty dishes, show your child a dirty dish and say "yuck" with a funny face. Your expression should make them giggle. With each new dish, use a new word, such as "sticky" or "goopy". See what funny words they can come up with too.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Your child learns communication skills from your tone of voice, facial expressions, body movements, and words. They also learn to love the sound of words when you use funny words.

While washing dishes, give your child a spoon to hold. Say, "You have a spoon!" Then hold your hand open and say, "My turn!" See if they will hand the spoon back to you. If they do, say, "Thank you!" If they don't, give them another utensil and see if you can trade them back and forth.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When you and your child play this game of give and take, you're helping them understand the back and forth of communication. They're using their skills of focus and self-control as they listen, watch, and follow your directions.

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Meal Time

'Activities' to explore with your child during meal time.

As you feed your child today, sing softly and watch how they respond. If they like it, smile and sing even more. If they make some sounds when responding to you, add their sounds to your song so you can make Mealtime Melodies together.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When you sing with your child and respond to their reactions, you're engaging them in learning about sounds and words. This leads to their learning new sounds and words, which will help them learn to talk and read in the future.

When you're having a snack, talk with your child about what you’re doing. "When I bite an apple, it makes a crunch sound. When you have teeth, you'll eat apples too." If they respond or reach for it and it is safe, let them touch it. "It feels smooth, doesn't it?"

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When you talk to your child, the part of their brain that processes sound lights up, helping them make sense of what their hearing. It also sparks the action part of their brain, which gets them ready to say words. Although they can't talk yet, this simple activity is helping them learn how to talk!

Watch your child during mealtime. Comment on their reactions to how the food tastes and feels and copy their facial expressions. Do they make a happy face when eating something sweet like fruit? Say, "You liked that juicy strawberry?" and then comment on their response.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

By describing your child's experiences and responding to their with words, you're helping them make connections between objects and language, and between feelings and actions. Interacting with them makes your relationship stronger and engages them in learning.

As you feed your child, tell them what you see. "I see your fingers picking up a piece of food. I see your mouth chewing a banana. I see you drinking with your mouth." If they make a sound or say a word, repeat it to create a back and forth conversation. Babbling and talking are learning!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

As you have a back and forth conversation about what you see your child doing, they're listening to you and learning new words, even before they can talk. They're also learning to communicate with another person and how much fun it can be.

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Out and About

'Activities' to explore with your child when outside.
father and child at beach

When you're in the park, ask your child, “Did you hear that?" each time you hear a sound. Imitate the sound out loud and make gestures to go along with it. Invite them to make the sound too.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

You're giving your child practice being able to hear differences in sounds. This is an important skill for enjoying and learning language so they can communicate well with others.

Try to imagine what your child is seeing when they're with you at the grocery store. Watch them and describe what you think they may be seeing. When they're looking at fruit, talk about what it is and how it tastes. Do the same when you walk down the soup aisle.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When your child sees you watching and hears you talking about their experiences, they're making new connections in their brain between what they see and the words you use. As you go back and forth, you’re teaching them they're valued.

As you ride in the bus or car, describe to your child how the day is: “Today is bright and sunny. Today I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face," or "Brrr, today is cold! That's why we have coats on." Ask them to take a turn. Be sure to respond to their words or sounds.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT 

When your child hears you describe the weather and things associated with the weather, they're learning to make connections between what and why. These connections will help them develop critical thinking and communicating skills.

Turn your trip to the park into a chance to Drop the Ball. Give your child a safe object to hold onto and drop, like a ball or a crumbled piece of paper. If you pick it up, they will drop it again. "Down it falls. Up it comes." Keep up the game with new objects!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT 

Building your child's ability to use their hands is important. They will use this ability at home, at play, and at school. In addition, they're learning to pay attention and to have self-control and also key skills for life.

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Play Time

'Activities' to explore with your child during play time.
child lying on the floor

Your child may not be walking or talking yet, but with your help, they can boogie. So, turn on some music and hold them as you dance around. When you sit down together, shake your arms to the music and see if they can do the same!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Paying attention to sounds and movements is an early step in listening for sounds—a reading skill.

Hold a mirror up to your child’s face and ask, "Who's that baby?" Then say their name. Pull the mirror away and watch them. Do they smile? Wave their hands and feet? Do they reach out for the mirror? Comment on what they're telling you with their actions.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

This game is a fun way to help your child learn to focus and pay attention as they notice you and the mirror. They're also learning about how to communicate with others as you respond to their sounds and movements. This will help them learn to talk in the future.

Go sightseeing in your home! Walk with your baby and point out different objects. Describe an item and if safe, let them touch it. Say, "Do you feel the lamp shade? It is rough. Watch what happens when I turn on the light." Pay attention to where they point or look and respond.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Your child learns by watching and listening to you. When you sightsee at home, you're developing the skill of focus—paying careful attention to details—while also making connections between words and actions. They're learning what interests them matters!

Grab whatever is nearby, like a blanket, a book, or your hands, and use it to play Peek-a-boo with your child. First you hide behind it and then say "Peek-a-boo!" Next, let them be the hider.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Peek-a-boo helps your child learn that you're still there, even when you're hiding. But most of all, it's fun! Your face and voice are their favourite toys.

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Night Time Routine

'Activities' to explore with your child during bath time and bed time.
woman giving baby a bath

As you're putting your child to bed rock them gently and sing softly to them. Pay attention to how they tell you they want more singing. Do they turn their head toward you? Smile? Move? What do they do to say "Enough"? Cry? Turn away? Take note of how to respond to their cues now and in the future!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Singing to your child before bedtime is like a calming conversation using music. You sing, they respond, you respond etc. They're learning how it feels to calm themself, which is an important life lesson.

As you get your child ready for bed, talk to them about what you’re doing—taking off their daytime clothes ("night night clothes") turning the lights down ("night night lights"), closing the shades ("night night outside").

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Regular routines help children learn to go to sleep more easily. When you name the activities, you're helping them learn words for these activities—even before they can say those words themselves.

Is your child starting to babble? Use bath time as an opportunity to babble about "b". If they say, "ba", you can say, "Baby takes a bath with bubbles! Ba-ba-ba!" If they respond with more babbles, copy them right back! What other words can you make from their babbling sounds?

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

You’re helping your child develop communication skills when you respond to their sounds with sounds of your own, building on their babbling to create words. They're also learning to engage in the back and forth "conversations" that are basic to relationships and learning.

At bedtime, talk to your child about the weather today and what it meant for you. "Today was COLD. I wish I had worn a heavy jacket because I was outside all morning!"

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Talking about everyday activities helps build children's vocabulary, communication skills, and their brains!