The Little Tots Sunshine Home Daycare
Boosting Your Childs Development
By: Andrew Ashworth

As your child's first and most important teacher, you will lay the foundation for all of his or her future learning. The things you can do to improve your child's chances of being happy, smart, and successful are simple and enjoyable-and many parents have always done them instinctively. For example, just talking to your child can increase his or her intelligence and improve his or her ability to learn language, to think, and, eventually, to do well in school. The most important things you can do to provide a loving and stimulating environment are to respond to your baby's needs with love and consistency, and to touch, play with, talk to, and sing to your child. Infants have a strong drive to practice new skills. Give your child as much freedom as possible to explore (with supervision).

Until children become mobile and skilled with their hands, they have to depend on others for stimulation and entertainment, Change your child's scenery throughout the day-for example, move the child from room to room, sit outside, or go for walks in the stroller. Vary your child's body positions frequently to give different perspectives and provide opportunities to exercise different muscles and learn different skills. Your child will have an easier time learning to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk if you provide plenty of space on a safe floor than if you keep him or her in an infant seat. He or she will become skilled at picking up and handling objects if you provide a variety of interesting ones. Your child will talk more easily if you frequently speak directly to him or her.

Respond to your child's cues. He or she will let you know when boredom strikes. Watch for your child's readiness to perform a new skill and then provide the opportunity to do it. Helping your child learn new skills does not mean pressuring your child to do things he or she is not developmentally able to do or interested in. If your child does not respond to your encouragement to try something new, he or she is probably not ready for it yet. Try it again later. This time of rapid development in your child's life will pass quickly. Take advantage of every opportunity to explore and discover new things together. Remember that play is learning for very young children. Not only are you and your child having fun together, but each new experience and interaction is forming the basis of your child's future intelligence, imagination, and creativity.

Your child's toys need not be either expensive or educational. In fact, certain store-bought toys can be inappropriate for children this age and it can be very expensive to provide new playthings every time your child gets bored with old ones. Children this age are fascinated with ordinary household items such as pots and pans, measuring spoons, boxes with lids, plastic containers with lids, paper, and large pieces of fabric-and they love to play with blocks and look at pictures. They generally like new playthings that are only slightly different from their familiar ones. So, when your baby tires of playing with a furry ball, give him or her a rubber one, or a ball of a different size; replace a pot or pan with one of a different size or shape, or a foam block with a wooden one.

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