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Ages 1-3

Top tips on how to develop your child's learning, from one to three years old

Choose a category that best fits what you're doing

House Chores  Meal Time  Out and About 

Play Time  Night Time

 

  

House Chores

'Activities' to explore with your child whilst doing the house work.
young girl smiling in kitchen

Cooking dinner? Give your child some safe plastic containers to open and close. Say "open" and "close"” as they play. Show them how to put things from the kitchen, like spoons, in and take them out of the containers. Say "in" and "out". Make sure to talk to them about what they're doing.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Your child is thinking like a scientist by experimenting with how things work when they open and close containers and put things in and out. You can even give them different lids for the containers to see which ones fit and which ones don't.

While you put away the clean dishes, hold each one up and ask your child to "Name that Dish!" Plate! Bowl! Fork! And so on. Make it fun like a game show. You hold up the item, they tell you what it is, or you say what it is, then on to the next one!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Your child learns to make connections between words and objects when they can see it and hear them at the same time. These connections are important to developing talking and reading skills.

Turn cleaning a surface into a game. Give your child a clean, almost-dry sponge and ask them to help you wipe off a surface you’re cleaning. Ask them to wipe it clean in long lines from top to bottom. Then try making a zigzag. Then circles. See what they think of too!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Doing "grown-up work" can make your child feel very proud of themselves and their accomplishments. In addition, they're learning how to take care of the things in their life and is also learning new words too!

As you sort laundry, ask your child to guess who it belongs to. You can hold up a shirt, "Who wears this?" Let them respond and then they can pick the next piece of clothing and you guess. If they don't know, you can tell them and share how you know this.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When your child guesses who the clothing belongs to, they're playing detective. They're focusing, paying attention to clues, and using their working memory and problem-solving skills. These skills are important for learning new things.

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Meal Time

'Activities' to explore with your child during meal time.
toddler eating lunch

What are all the descriptive words you can use to describe the food your child is eating? Is the banana mushy, squishy, and slippery? Are the eggs warm, crumbly, and soft? Point as you say them and watch them respond and respond back to them.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When your child hears and sees new ways to describe their food, they're learning new words as well as the skills of observing their experience and communicating more effectively.

At snack time, exercise your child’s five senses. Let them taste a piece of the snack and ask how it tastes, then have them smell it and tell you what they smell. Talk about the shape of it and how it feels to the touch. You can smell and taste it too.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The more your child can experience the world through their senses, the more they'll learn.

Time to eat? Invite your child to imitate what you do. Pick up your spoon, take some food and say, "Mmm delicious," and put the spoon down. Or take tiny bites and have them do the same. Then invite them to do something and you copy them.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

This back and forth game help your child learn to pay attention and remember so they can repeat your actions. They need these thinking skills to learn information and use it. Plus it can encourage a picky eater to eat!

As you eat with your child, describe the flavours you both are eating. "The fruit is sweet. The pickle is sour." Make a face that goes along with it to make it more fun. You can also talk about which foods you like the best.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

When your child hears you describe the foods you're eating, they're making connections that will help them learn new words and what they mean. They're also learning about what you like and don't like. This is important in learning to get along well with others.

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Out and About

'Activities' to explore with your child when outside.
Daniel in supermarket

Start telling a story with your child: "Once upon a time there was a bunny who lived in a forest." Ask them, "What do you think the bunny did today?" They might say, "The bunny PLAYED!" You continue, "What did the bunny play with?" Keep the story going based on their responses.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Telling ongoing stories with children can become a loving tradition that they will remember and cherish all their lives. It's skill building too. Children are using their imagination, building their vocabulary, and remembering the story to continue in the future.

Pay attention to the sounds you're hearing and talk about them with your child. "i hear a bird tweeting. Do you?" Try to find the bird. Do this with fire trucks or cars going "vroom!" Pay attention to what they're listening to and ask them, "What do you hear?"

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Children learn through their senses and through games like Sound Searchers. Using words about the sounds you're hearing helps your child begin to listen to the differences in sounds and the words that describe them.

As you shop for groceries, point out foods you see. Play with the sounds of words as you show your child the juicy red "to-ma-toes" or the white bumpy "caul-ee-flower". How do they respond? When they make a sound in response, copy it.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT 

Your child is practicing the skill of being able to hear differences in sounds. This is a skill that will help them learn new words and over time be able to hear the differences in sounds.

When outside, make a telescope with your hands. Circle your fingers and hold them to your eye and look at your child telling them, "I see you!" Show them how to make their own finger telescope. Take turns looking through the finger telescope and sharing what you see.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT 

This simple game is not only fun, it gives your child the chance to pay attention to their surroundings and think flexibly as they see familiar people and things in a new way. Being flexible is a big part of problem-solving and making the most out of life.

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Play Time

'Activities' to explore with your child during play time.
child playing with blocks

What can you find in your house to play pretend with your child? Offer them clothes, blankets, empty boxes, and clean and safe kitchen objects to use. Include their ideas in what you come up with. You can give them prompts like, "Should we build a boat or pretend to cook dinner?"

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Playing pretend is a great way for your child to explore ideas and practice language skills. They also get the chance to "try on" different roles, like being a parent or a baby, and to see the world through other people's eyes. This is an important skill for getting along with others.

Play a pattern with your hands and let your child do their best to copy. Try different patterns of sounds and lengths, like clapping or opening and closing your fist. Then you can take a turn to copy what they do. See how long you can go back and forth.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

As your child watches you and copies your movements, they use their memory and focus. These skills will help them learn to take in new information and use it as they get older. Children learn best when there is a back and forth interaction, like when you watch them and respond to what they're doing.

Turn your living room into a wild animal kingdom! Make an animal noise. Can your child guess the name of the animal? Can they copy the sound back? Now it's their turn to make a sound for you to guess. See how many times you can go back and forth: "Woofff! Hissssss! Rooarr!"

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Back and forth conversations, whether they're with words, sounds or faces, help your child learn to pay attention, listen carefully, not go on auto-pilot but follow the rules.

Invite your child to hide. Then search for them, talking out loud about the clues you're using to find them. You can say, "I see something wiggling. I wonder if they're near that chair". If they giggle, say, "I hear a laughing noise near the door". Now you hide and they make up the clues to find you!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Children love hiding games because they help them understand when things disappear they can continue to exist. To stay hidden, they have to use self-control. In sharing your clues for finding your child, you're helping them learn problem-solving skills too.

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Night Time Routine

'Activities' to explore with your child during bath time and bed time.
young boy in bath

As you dry your child, rub their fingers and toes one at a time. Name each one as you dry them and do a little dance! When you dry a pinky, shake your hand. When you dry their toe, stamp your foot. Make up a new move for each little finger and toe!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Being a part of the Dry Dance with you helps your child become more aware of their body, not to mention your playfulness and love. A loving, caring relationship with you supports their developing brain and thinking.

Brushing your child's teeth? As you look in the mirror, talk about how your faces are the same and different. You both have two eyes and a nose, but yours are bigger. You both can make funny faces. Make a funny face and see if you can make them laugh!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Comparing how your faces are the same and different helps your child learn to sort objects and experiences into categories. Sorting information into categories is important for reading, math, and science. And this game builds the connection between you!

Use your child's time in the tub to talk about the weather. Sprinkle water on their arms and talk about rain. Let them take a turn sprinkling rain on your arms. When you're draining the tub, show them how the water looks like a tornado. Take turns opening and closing the drain to let the water swirl around.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Having conversations helps to build children's brains—they're learning new words and learning about cause and effect when they see the water go down the drain.

Grab two cups before bath time. Give your child a cup and pour water into theirs. Then ask them to pour the water back into yours. Count the number of times out loud and see how many times you can go back and forth!

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Supporting children as they explore and discover will help them become learners for life. Counting out loud also helps them build a stronger sense of numbers.