These are challenging, unprecedented days. And when parenting young children is part of the mix, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to “check out,” to say to yourself, “I’ll be more intentional about things once life becomes normal again.” We get it.
But here’s the thing about young children: their brains are still developing rapidly, even though the rest of life feels like it’s on pause. In fact, 80% of a child’s brain growth happens in the first three years of life! Parents and caregivers, it’s important to seize the opportunity of the early years, even when it’s not ideal or convenient (like during a pandemic!)
Thankfully, there’s good news. Promoting healthy brain growth isn’t complicated. Everyday life provides all the opportunities you need to give your child a great start in life. Here’s how The Basics can help!
1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress.
These are stressful times. Loving your children well while managing personal stress is THE most important thing you can do right now. This is also the Basic that serves as a foundation for everything else. Maximizing love for your child prepares their young brain and body to learn, to adapt, to relate to others, and to thrive in all areas of life—both in a time of crisis and beyond.
Here’s a recent post that provides practical tips for managing your own stress as a parent or caregiver, and provides simple ways to love your child well: Parents and caregivers, here’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your children during these trying times.
2. Talk, Sing, and Point
Talking, singing, and pointing with your baby from the very beginning are so important for healthy brain growth. 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. Chances are, you’re already talking, singing, and pointing 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. Here’s a post that can help: 6 Simple Ways to Support Language Learning with Your Child
3. Count, Group, and Compare
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 growth and teach them to become a problem solver. This is why “Count, Group and Compare” is the third Basic. Use these everyday moments to prepare your child for math! (even if you’re not a “math person”)
4. Explore through 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! Here are 7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child’s brain needs it!)
5. Read and Discuss Stories
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, we’ve got you covered: Building a Healthy Brain with Books: 8 Simple Tips!
Parents and caregivers, we know you’re tired and overwhelmed. We know it’s sometimes easier to hand your toddler the iPad than to have a conversation or read a book. But as much as possible, keep doing The Basics. Snuggle, talk with them, count, play, and read. Your engagement with your child not only makes them feel loved and important, it supports the brain growth that’s so important during this time!
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! And we’ll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
*If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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