6 Simple Ways to Support Language Learning with Your Child

If you're a parent or caregiver, you already have the superpowers you need to help your child learn to communicate! You don't need a degree in speech or child development. You don't need books written by experts or expensive educational toys. Babies learn to talk from being talked to.

Talking, singing, and pointing with your baby from the very beginning are some of the most important things you can do to build a strong and healthy brain! 

Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying. 

Talking is teaching.

This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of The Basics, 5 fun, simple, powerful ways every child can get a great start in life! 

Here are six simple ways you can talk, sing and point with your baby or toddler. Chances are, you're already doing these things throughout the day. But being mindful of just how important it is to talk, sing, and point, can help you be even more intentional with your child. 

1. Talk throughout the day.

Talk to your child during activities like changing, feeding, bathing, going for walks, and running errands.

Describe what you are doing. Name and point to the objects around you. If you have a baby, know that the sound of your voice is your baby's favorite sound! So when you fix lunch, buckle carseats, or walk to the mailbox, describe what you're doing. 

2. Add ideas.

Help grow your child’s use of words by expanding on what he says. For example, if he says “eat,” you can respond with, “Yes, let's eat a snack. I'm going to fix some apple slices and cheese."

3. Point.

When you talk about something, point to it. This helps your child understand what you mean. Encourage your child to point, too. “Can you point to your shoes?” This will help them connect words to objects.

4. Sing.

Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes. Choose ones you remember from your own childhood or make up new ones. Children love music, and there is a great deal of research that supports the power of music and rhyming for healthy brain development!

5. Go back and forth.

When your baby makes a sound, show excitement in your face and voice! Respond to their sound with words and see how long you can keep the “conversation” going. You may have seen this video that went viral of a dad having an animated conversation with his toddler. This is a perfect example of going back and forth, even though your little one may not be using real words yet. 

6. Listen and respond.

Listen to your toddler’s questions and answer them. Have a conversation. This is when the most powerful learning takes place.

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Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are Talking, Singing and Pointing with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.  

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


3 Things You Can Do TODAY to Maximize Love & Manage Stress

Why is it so important to be parents and caregivers who “maximize love?” Because  love is foundational to a child’s health and success. It’s the number one thing every child needs and deserves. Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable, and when parents are able to respond to their child's needs with love

And for a parent to be able to maximize love, they have to learn how to manage their own stress. This means taking steps to avoid unnecessary stress and learning to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable.

Here are 3 things you can do today:

1. Have a person.

It’s so difficult for parents to maximize love and manage stress when they're running on empty and lack support. Even the most loving parent can snap under too much stress. But when a mom or dad has a friend or family member they can call, it can make all the difference.

Having support doesn’t eliminate a parent’s stress, but it does provide the support they need to cope. Having a person, or a group of people, provides perspective, love, reassurance, and maybe even tangible help.

Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships..

2. Take a break.

Rare is the parent of a young child who can get a full day away, much less a mom’s weekend away. Instead, it’s helpful to build in breaks throughout the day, moments that serve as a reset. A “time out” for yourself can help you find perspective. It provides space for emotions to die down or for your head to clear.

A break can look like:

  • Taking one minute to walk away and take deep breaths so that you can return to your child with more calm and less anxiety
  • A stress-relieving activity: exercise, a nap while your child rests, prayer or meditation, calling a trusted friend
  • Taking a break with your child by going to the park, taking a walk, being in nature, and simply having a change of scenery

 

3. Prioritize sleep and rest.

This doesn’t sound glamorous, but prioritizing your own sleep is crucial for your mental, emotional, relational, and physical health. In the same way that your child is more prone to tantrums, whining, and lack of perspective when they don’t get a nap or a good night of sleep, it’s hard for grown-ups to manage stress and love others well when we don’t get the rest we need.

It’s normal to need some time to yourself once your child goes to sleep, but that can easily turn into staying up too late watching TV or scrolling through social media. Don’t let screens rob you of what you really need for renewal: sleep. 

For one week, try choosing an earlier bedtime over mindless scrolling or watching and see if you feel like a better, more rested version of yourself. : )

Sleep equals sanity. It’s simple but true.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!  

 


Building a Healthy Brain with Books: 8 Simple Tips!

 

Eighty percent of brain growth happens within the first three years of life. During these early years, infants and toddlers absorb massive amounts of information from interacting with other people. This early learning becomes the foundation for all future learning!

One of the most important ways to seize the opportunity of the early years is through reading to your young child just 15 minutes a day. The more we read to young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and do well in school.

When you read to your infant, they learn how books work and develop new language skills. They learn to associate warm, fuzzy feelings with books and learning. It's a wonderful way to bond with your baby and create simple routines. When you read to your toddler, you teach them to use their imaginations; they learn about people, places, and things that can be important building blocks to later life success.

We know that simple practices create lasting foundations.

Whether you have a baby or a preschooler, here are 8 simple tips for building a healthy brain with books:

1. Read to your child early and often. You can begin reading to your child even when he or she is a baby. Research shows that children who don’t have as many words in their “word bank” are less ready for school, less prepared for academic success, and less able to follow instructions.  

Reading to your child from their earliest days is a simple way to expose them to words, pictures, and the simple rhythms of turning pages and hearing your voice.  

2. Actively involve them. As your baby gets older and develops coordination, involve them more in the reading experience. Let them hold the book and turn the pages.

3. Make it a positive experience. Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t want to read to young children because it’s a struggle. They interrupt, they wiggle, they get up and walk away.

When reading to babies and toddlers, there’s just one goal: give them positive experiences with books.

They’re learning how to look at a book and how to turn the pages. They’re hearing your voice. They’re receiving deposits in their word bank. They’re looking at pictures and pointing or watching you point. When they get tired or squirmy, close the book and move on. Keep it fun, for you and for your child!

4. Make reading together part of your routine. Reading a book before naptime and bedtime helps children wind down and provides a regular point in the day to read together.

5. Describe the pictures. With infants, you don’t need to read the word on the pages. Instead, describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters and doing. Point to the page when you do this. Books provide all sorts of learning opportunities beyond reading!

6. Have books available. Having a book basket in the living room or keeping a book tote to keep in the car communicates that reading is an important part of your world. Keep a book in your diaper bag and tucked in the basket of your stroller. Instead of handing your child a screen, hand them a book!

7. Visit the library often. Children LOVE the library. And libraries love children.

Not only can children begin to fill up their own library bags from an early age, they can also enjoy the fun and play surrounding literacy. Take advantage of the many preschool opportunities your local library has to offer!

8. Discuss stories. Your toddler will learn the most if you have conversations while you read. Respond to their comments and questions about the story. Ask questions that get them thinking. “Why is the boy sad?” “What do you think is going to happen next?”

As your child gets older, go a step further. Retelling the story back to you is a wonderful tool for language development. Let them go back through the book, using pictures to help them. As they mature, so does their ability to retell a story back to you!

We hope these tips encourage you to make books a simple but important part of your everyday routine with your child! For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories.

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are helping their young children "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com. 

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child's brain needs it!)

Young children are born "movers." A child's first 12-18 months of life are filled with exciting "movement milestones!"

  • Learning to raise her head and look around
  • Raising up his torso while having tummy time on the floor
  • Flailing tiny arms and kicking newborn feet during diaper changes
  • Rolling over, scooting, and crawling
  • Taking those first wobbly steps
  • Learning to run, fall, and get back up again 

And that's just the beginning of a young child's relationship with movement and play!

There's a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child's brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Physical activity and curiosity don't simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain!

When your baby is crawling, when your toddler is climbing the ladder to the slide, when your preschooler is tossing a ball, they are actually building the architecture of their rapidly developing brain. As young children explore their surroundings, their brains build mental maps of places and spaces. 

This is why "Explore Through Movement and Play" is one of the 5 Basics that every child needs to get a great start in life!

Here are 7 simple ways for parents to encourage exploration through movement and play:

1. Give your baby regular "tummy time." When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings. 

2. Play peek-a-boo. This game teaches infants that objects and people exist even when hidden. It's also a fun way to bond with your child! Best of all, you can play games like this during everyday activities like diaper changes or bath time. 

3. Make art. Drawing, even if it's just scribbling with crayons on scrap paper, is a good way for little hands to build strong muscles and for little minds to develop creativity. 

4. Get outside as much as possible and encourage natural exploration wherever you are. Grass, leaves, flowers, and rocks are all fascinating to young children! The world is a brand new place for them and they learn by engaging with the everyday objects of their home and outside world. As your child explores, point to objects and say things like, "This is a leaf. It falls from the tree." (This is a great way to do Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point!

5. Build an obstacle course indoors. Use blankets, pillows, or boxes. See if your child can go over, under, around, and through these objects.

6. Use "position words." Whether you're at the park or indoors, use words like over, under, near, far, through, and around as your child engages in these activities. 

7. Visit the playground. Climbing, swinging, jumping, and hanging from monkey bars provide outlets for a young child's boundless energy while also building strong bodies and brains. 

Though movement and play come naturally to babies and young children, we live in a world where television screens, computer monitors, and smart phones are part of everyday life. It's tempting to rely on devices and digital entertainment for your young child instead of making sure they get plenty of physical activity and natural play.  

Because 80% of brain development happens in the first three years of life, it's important to seize the opportunity and give your child a great beginning! The more you practice "The Basics," the more they will become a simple part of everyday life for you and for your child. 

Know that when you put away the screen and encourage your child to engage with the real world around them, you are building a powerful brain, preparing them for school and for life! 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are helping their young children "Explore Through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


8 Simple Ways to Build a Strong Foundation for Math

"I'm just not a math person." 

We've all heard someone say this. Maybe you've said it yourself.

As adults, we know our own strengths and weaknesses, and this awareness can lead us to believe that we don't have what it takes to equip our young children, especially if it's in an area where we haven't had success. 

That's why many of us say, "I'm just not a math person!"

But think about this:

Would you refrain from tossing a ball to your child because you weren't good at sports?

Would you choose never to read a book with your child because you don't consider yourself a good reader?

We believe every parent can give every child a great start in life if they know "The Basics!"

Believe it or not, children come into the world pre-wired to learn simple math ideas, including numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. As parents and caregivers of young children, you can seize this important window of brain development and teach them to become a problem solver. 

This is why "Count, Group and Compare" is the third Palmetto Basic.

 Here are 8 fun and simple ways you can do math with your child and help them develop important thinking skills! 

1. Move in rhythm. 

Clap, tap, rock or kiss your baby in a steady rhythm. Count while you do it. 

If your child is in a baby swing at the playground, count each time you push the swing. Have fun! These are simple ways to teach your child about patterns and counting. 

2. Count objects.

Count groups of things, starting with small numbers. You can count your child's toes or count their Cheerios. Infants learn through all of their senses, so hold objects up for your child to see and touch. "Look, there's one...two blocks. Two blocks." As your child gets older, continue to count things together. 

3. Compare. 

Provide opportunities for your child to touch and explore things that are the same and different. For example, let your baby shake things that make different sounds, or touch fabrics with different textures. Talk about how they are similar or different.  

4. Use math words. 

 

When you talk to your infant or toddler, use words related to math ideas like amounts or comparisons. Examples of math words are more, less, big, small, tall, short, round, square, equal. 

5. Make groups.

Children learn to say strings of numbers before they truly understand the meaning of numbers. After they learn to count numbers out loud, the next step is understanding how many things each number stands for. "Five" isn't just a word that comes after "four;" the word five represents five of something. Count objects, like socks or blocks, and put them in a group so your child can see the whole set.  

6. Make it a game.

Have fun with counting. You can count 1, 2, 3, and then let your child say 4, 5, 6. If you're walking down the sidewalk, you can clap after every 5 sidewalk lines. All sorts of everyday objects and activities can be turned into math games. You know that you're building a healthy brain, but your child simply enjoys the fun and loves bonding with you!

7. Name shapes.

Shapes are everywhere! Look for them with your child and name them.

"The clock is a circle. Do you see any other circles in this room?"

"The sign is a rectangle. What other rectangles do you see outside?" 

8. Match and sort.

Make a game of matching and sorting objects. For example, let your child match socks while you do laundry. Your child can match and sort items by their shape, color, size, or other features. 

When you make math a fun and daily part of life with your child, you are teaching them to become a math person! And you may find that you actually enjoy math more than you realized. : )

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The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! We're choosing one Basic a month, sharing an overview here on the blog and other resources you don't want to miss through social media.

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


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