Here are five ways to help your kids thrive before five:
1. Engage them in conversation. Children are constantly learning. And how to have and hold a conversation is a vital piece of their development. So how you talk to them and how they see you communicate to others is how they will also begin to communicate. Not only will this help them later in life to talk to people, but it will also help them to learn to express themselves. Whether it is how they are feeling at the time or thoughts and ideas that they may have, being able to effectively communicate that to others is very important.
2. Let them play. Often we think of children playing on the playground or in the backyard as just them having fun. But actually playing is a big developmental stage for children. This is another stage in learning to communicate with others. As playgrounds turn into forts or dollhouses and backyards become jungles or fields. Children communicate what they are imagining to each other. Also it lets them begin to work with rules. Playing tag or football means that everyone has to follow rules, but sometimes rules are broken. And how children deal with conflict can often be developed on the playground.
3. Allow time for boredom – In today’s society, where we are constantly connected to some device, it is hard to be bored. We have games and social media and shows just clicks away. While this may be good for parents looking to entertain a child in a restaurant or in the car, boredom is actually important to a child. It allows the child to develop patience and their imagination. Sitting at a table with nothing but a toy car can turn into a rally race were your child is the champion. Or sitting in a waiting room with a Barbie can turn into a whole day of shopping and fun. Our culture has already made it very difficult to be patient. We have fast food, always need the fastest Internet speeds, and often opt for the express checkout lanes. We don’t like to wait. Unfortunately, we may not have a choice sometimes. So developing a child’s patience early on is important as they grow.
4. Enroll them in a Preschool/Childcare that uses Developmental Curriculum. A great daycare is certainly an option, but it won’t be focused important steps in your child’s development. Preschool and developmental childcares on the other hand, have teachers who are trained to help children develop key skills at each age. When touring preschool/childcare facilities, ask if they use a developmental curriculum. We understand that a lot of places can foster growth in a child without a specific curriculum, but a developmental curriculum will help a child most effectively work on these skills and ensure they are prepared for elementary school.
5. Provide opportunities for guided peer interaction. We all need to interact with others. While some of us are more comfortable than others at doing so, it is vital that we have that interaction with our peers. Children can learn a lot on the playground and in the classroom, but sometimes it is good to have a guided peer interaction. This gets children used to interacting with others that they may normally not interact with. If there is conflict or miscommunication, you are there to help guide them into resolving that conflict in a healthy manner. Then, we not only develop our communication skills, but we make new friends as well.