As You Child Grows

As parents we often ask what we can do to help our children to grow and learn. The activities below cover many areas of development and will hopefully provide you with some fun and creative ways to help your children to grow and learn! Information such as this can be found in many sites on the internet. Hopefully you will find the time to explore some of the links that we have provided for you on our Useful Resources page.

Birth to 6 Months:

Imitate your baby's cooing and babbling.

Talk to your baby in a pleasant voice.

Be exciting - use your face to show what you are saying.

Provide sounds for your baby - music, singing, noisy toys.

Provide safe toys for them to explore with their mouths.

Talk about all the house sounds, like water and pet noises.

Provide opportunities for your little one to sit in a supported position to allow for free head movement as they develop.

Hang shiny, colorful, safe things above the crib and out of reach.

Show the baby objects around the house; remember that what is ordinary to you is fascinating to this tiny new person.

Talk as you are changing diapers, feeding, or bathing your baby.

Describe and talk about your daily activities: "Now it is time to go to bed."

Shorten your sentences and repeat a lot; this is great for your little one.

Sing in the car to your child. Peek-a-boo is a great first game. Give them opportunities to bring their hands together as well, help them to clap.

Dance with your young partner. Holding your child while dancing to different types of music develops rhythmic responses and can be great exercise for you.

Read books aloud to your child, even your own book. Your voice is a source of learning and security to your little one.

6 to 12 Months:

Remember that everything is new to your baby, so measuring cups and spoons are as much fun to hold and play with as expensive, complicated toys.

All day long, talk and listen, talk and listen.

Your baby loves repetition. It is reassuring in a strange world, and it helps your baby learn - so sing the same songs, tell the same stories, and tell your baby again and again about things you are doing.

Carrying your baby is important for your baby's learning. Many more things come into view when a baby is higher. From the floor, your baby's world is chair legs and feet. In your arms, your baby can wonder at the many things you see and talk about. Baby backpacks can be delightful for parents and baby.

Praise your baby. Your baby wants to make you happy, so your delight delights your baby. The happiness and pride in your voice and on your face is important to your baby.

Your baby will begin to love and play along with baby games like "Where's your mouth," Hide and Seek, and Patty Cake. Allowing for opportunities to sit and to stand with support provides different vantage points to view there world from.

Give your baby children's books that are OK to play with. Your baby will learn to turn pages and concentrate on pictures.

Set aside specific times in the day to "read" with your baby.

10 to 20 Months:

Read books with simple, everyday, colorful pictures. Use a few familiar books over and over so your child can learn the story.

Change the rules of games and the stories in hard books so they are simple enough for your pre-toddler to enjoy.

Use "board books" so that your pre-toddler can hold and enjoy them, without the fear of damage.

Repeat a new word over and over and use gestures to help your child build his/her listening and understanding.

Learning bye-bye waves and kisses are fun for everyone.

Watch for your child's own hand-words, like pointing to a refrigerator when hungry.

Bang on pots to make music; dance to your songs. Your pre-toddler loves movement and noise.

Sing in the car, too. Treat yourself and share your favorite songs with your child. Your pre-toddler doesn't love only nursery rhymes.

Your busy, busy, busy child loves to experiment, touch, and make "messes." Help meet that desire on your terms: finger paint with pudding on a cookie sheet; play with shaving cream in the bathtub; put a plastic table cloth on the floor, then play with play-dough or eat a popsicle with fingers.

Your pre-toddler will have some "words." These words might not sound the way our words do, but praise your child and enjoy this sign of early learning and achievement - even if your pre-toddler's favorite words are "no, more, mine."

Make animal noises when you read animal books. Pretend to be animals by making noises and crawling together.

Water is fascinating to your pre-toddler. Water play with plastic cups and scoops will delight and amuse your child. You must always be there to watch, no matter how little water is in the tub or pool.

6 to 12 Months:

Remember that everything is new to your baby, so measuring cups and spoons are as much fun to hold and play with as expensive, complicated toys.

All day long, talk and listen, talk and listen.

Your baby loves repetition. It is reassuring in a strange world, and it helps your baby learn - so sing the same songs, tell the same stories, and tell your baby again and again about things you are doing.

Carrying your baby is important for your baby's learning. Many more things come into view when a baby is higher. From the floor, your baby's world is chair legs and feet. In your arms, your baby can wonder at the many things you see and talk about. Baby backpacks can be delightful for parents and baby.

Praise your baby. Your baby wants to make you happy, so your delight delights your baby. The happiness and pride in your voice and on your face is important to your baby.

Your baby will begin to love and play along with baby games like "Where's your mouth," Hide and Seek, and Patty Cake. Allowing for opportunities to sit and to stand with support provides different vantage points to view there world from.

Give your baby children's books that are OK to play with. Your baby will learn to turn pages and concentrate on pictures.

Set aside specific times in the day to "read" with your baby.

 23 to 32 Months:

Learn about colors: sort blocks, socks, clothes by color, saying the color word many times.

Show your toddler different uses for the same thing: dig with a spoon, eat with a spoon.

Make stories longer, and try different books more often.

Knob puzzles with 1-5 pieces are fun, but so is dropping buttons or dry macaroni into small plastic bottles.

Finger painting and fat crayons are treats and good learning tools.

Make everything an adventure; your toddler loves enthusiasm. Do exercises together, with or without TV help.

Begin to tell your toddler about plans for the day, such as shopping and doctors' visits, before you go.

Your toddler thinks chores are a game. Enjoy it and praise lavishly when your toddler picks up toys, puts clothes in the basket, or puts things in the trash for you.

Make faces in the mirror together and describe how the two of you look.

Explore with hands: half fill a dishpan with beans, rice or sand and practice shoveling, pouring, dumping and funneling.

28 to 38 Months:

Begin the public library habit. There are tape stories and books for check out. There are also story hours which delight the children and allow parents time to browse the books or just listen and rest.

Act out songs, learn songs with actions, and make up your own songs

Build things with blocks, Duplo, pillows, or pencils.

Pretend to be an animal and live under the table.

Crayons or fat magic markers on old newspaper make wonderful pictures.

Puzzles with 5-10 pieces are about right.

Go on a walk and look at bugs, sticks, or interesting rocks. Talk about everything you see.

Play copy cat with your body and your words.

String cheerios or fruit loops on a string for a beautiful good-tasting necklace.

Play with bubbles and plastic dishes in the sink. Put down the plastic tablecloth and play with dry rice and beans with scoops and cups.

Say-sing nursery rhymes and counting songs.

Read your favorite stories; let your child fill in frequent words of the story.

Make up your own songs to match whatever you are doing.

Identify and sing songs about parts of the body: eyes, knees, nose, feet, hands, ears.

Talk about time passage, things that are past and things that are in the future.

Play action games with hopping and skipping.

Ripping and tearing is a fun natural desire at this age, so provide scrap paper and old newspaper to avoid having books and magazines shredded.

Make sure your child sees you read. Don't always save your own books and reading for when your child sleeps.

35 to 46 Months:

Offer choices whenever it's realistic: Do you want to brush your teeth before your bath or do you want to take your bath first?

Help your child choose his/her own clothes in the morning.

Enjoy any kind of arts and crafts: drawing, painting, cutting, and gluing.

Let your questioner choose a book and tell you the story from the pictures.

Make a book from paper and pictures cut from a magazine.

Read a familiar story, but add something silly. Let your child catch your mistakes and tell you the way it should be.

Tape your child's made-up stories; you'll enjoy listening to them later.

Singing and dancing in costume is a special treat. Play Follow the Leader and Simon Says.

Plan and pretend how to act in new places and situations.

Help your child share with others, but allow him/her to have one thing he/she doesn't have to share with his/her friends.

Since fantasy is more elaborate, puppets and stuffed animals can be animals in the jungle, in the zoo, or kings at a tea party.

Help your child notice the seasons and the changes in nature.

Talk, pretend, and discuss feelings a lot - feelings your child has and feelings others have. Being able to pretend you are someone else is the first step in understanding others and being able to get along and share.

Call a friend on the phone.

Dress all in one color and look for that color all day everywhere you go.

Make rock animals with rocks and magic markers; glue-on eyes are a real treat.

Sort your little toys into coffee cans, animals in one, trucks in another.

With vanilla wafers and a tube of frosting, make face cookies for dessert.

Squeeze your own orange juice.

Look at family pictures. Discuss ages and relations.

Doctor your baby doll or stuffed animal before going to the doctor's office.

Buy different colored dried beans to use for sorting into egg cartons, glue-on art projects, and counting.

Crayons or fat magic markers on old newspaper make wonderful pictures.

Puzzles with 5-10 pieces are about right.

44 to 50 Months:

Write out made-up stories, then act them out with mom and dad as audience.

Cooperative play is great fun for your child, so provide times to spend with other children the same age. Develop a baby care co-op. Find a mother or two with children your child's age and set up a play schedule. Your child will have a chance for fun and learning with others, and you will get some time for yourself to talk to the other mothers

Write out made-up stories, then act them out with mom and dad as audience.

Cooperative play is great fun for your child, so provide times to spend with other children the same age. Develop a baby care co-op. Find a mother or two with children your child's age and set up a play schedule. Your child will have a chance for fun and learning with others, and you will get some time for yourself to talk to the other mothers.

Explore all the playgrounds in local parks and schools. Your child will love the variety of places for physical activities.

Play with elaborate puzzles with 18 to 25 pieces.

Legos are good additions to your basic wood blocks. Encourage your child to name and make up a story about everything that is built.

Make a list and then take a trip to the grocery store. Talk about the groups of foods, and let your preschooler hold the coupons. Show your child which items to cross off the shopping list.

Sort through clothes. Talk about how small your child was when wearing the things that are too small, and how much bigger your child will be next year.

Talk about yesterday and try to remember as many things as possible.

See who can remember the most.

Make a pretend house under the table. Invite each other for a picnic.

Make a number book: Cut out magazine pictures and glue one on the page with a 1, two on the page with a 2, etc.

Go on an outside scavenger hunt. Find a small leaf, a big leaf, a round rock.

Use markers and glue to make animals, people, and bugs from your rocks.

Cut strips of colored comics and glue loops together for a chain to celebrate a birthday or spring or just for fun.

Use a deck of cards to match the numbers.

Have your child help plan the weekend. Having pancakes for breakfast and a walk to the playground are reasonable requests you might not know about unless you include your child in the planning.

48 to 62 Months

Cut out paper snowflakes or paper dolls.

Decorate a small box with paint and macaroni for tiny treasures.

Decorate a large box with paint or magazine pictures as a treasure box to store toys.

Cut out paper snowflakes or paper dolls.

Decorate a small box with paint and macaroni for tiny treasures.

Decorate a large box with paint or magazine pictures as a treasure box to store toys.

Shop at a different grocery store and talk about how things are the same and different.

Cut out coupons from the paper together and then sort them by groups.

Talk about your feelings and the feelings of playmates and of people in stories and on TV.

Watch TV with your child and talk about real and fantasy during commercials.

Fly paper airplanes.

Plan and pack a bag lunch to eat outside or during a walk.

Help your child joyfully anticipate kindergarten.

Become part of pre-school library hour.

Attend school concerts and plays. Your child will be fascinated watching "big kids."

Walk by the kindergarten rooms, the bathroom, and the library each time you visit school with your child. Encourage the "my school" feeling of ownership with your child.