Parenting Tips for Home | Supporting Your Child’s Early Learning

Parenting Tips for Home | Supporting Your Child’s Early Learning

Learning begins from the minute a child is born. In fact, they learn more during their first five years than at any other time. That’s why it’s important that every child has opportunities to learn and develop every day. Having a stimulating environment plus good nutrition and plenty of physical activity will help the brain develop and positively influence your child’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language skills.

Remember, all children develop at different rates.

Some of the things you can expect to see are outlined below. The information has been sourced from the Early Years Learning Framework Developmental Milestones booklet, developed by Community Child Care Co-operative Ltd NSW (CCCC) for the Department of Education. 

To see more detailed information and milestones check out the Starting Blocks website.

BIRTH TO 4 MONTHS

From the day your baby is born their brain is growing and developing. They learn by connecting with people so it’s important for parents and carers to provide them with as many learning opportunities as possible to encourage their development.

How can you encourage your baby’s learning?

  • Display delight, encouragement and enthusiasm for their achievements
  • Make and play with sounds together
  • Get into a routine – eat, sleep, play, repeat
  • Make positive eye contact as often as possible
  • Talk and sing to them
  • Play simple games e.g. peek-a-boo
  • Smile back when he or she smiles at you

4 TO 8 MONTHS

By the time your baby is four months old he or she has already developed their own personality. They know when you call their name and can be soothed by the sound of your voice. Over the next few months you’ll see your baby becoming more curious of their surroundings and starting to play and communicate with other babies and toddlers.

How can you encourage your baby’s learning?

  • Mimic their sounds and actions e.g. clapping, waving
  • Encourage their motor skills e.g. place a toy out of reach and urge them to crawl towards it
  • Play games e.g. peek-a-boo, splash time in the bath, go to the mirror and show their reflection
  • Play together on the floor to encourage your baby to stretch, wriggle and roll
  • Tickle and laugh with your baby
  • Read them books with simple, bright pictures

8 TO 12 MONTHS

At 8 – 12 months your baby is on the move and getting into everything, developing skills like problem solving, investigating and experimenting. He or she is becoming more excited and curious about the world. They’re learning how to point and make sounds at the things they want and are beginning to understand how they affect the people around them.

How can you encourage your baby’s learning?

  • Provide opportunities that challenge, intrigue and surprise them
  • Encourage them when they try to explore e.g. try to crawl to get something
  • Share their achievements with family and people around them
  • Look at books together, naming and pointing to the pictures
  • Talk to your baby in simple language
  • Take turns in playing simple games e.g. clapping, blowing bubbles or finger and toe songs and games
  • Sing nursery rhymes with actions e.g. round and round the garden
  • Place a toy out of reach and encourage them to crawl or walk to it
  • Give them finger foods, using different tastes and textures
  • Give them space to crawl and pull themselves up on furniture
  • Encourage them to mimic you using simple sounds and words
  • Always let them know you or another family member is there with them

1 TO 2 YEARS

Your child is now a toddler, they like to do things in their own way, in their own time so it’s important they have a safe environment to learn, play and explore in. Their concentration is better so they are better listeners and will happily play for longer. Day by day they’re open to new challenges and can seem more independent, but don’t be fooled – you can’t take your eyes off them for a second!!

How can you encourage your toddler’s learning?

  • Encourage your toddler to ask questions and face new challenges e.g. what’s the right way to go down the stairs – walk through each problem with them
  • Help your toddler to experiment with everyday things e.g. show and explain why some things float in the bath and others sink
  • Do simple experiments together like making play dough, blowing bubbles and looking at insects
  • Talk with them about the technology and objects we use each day and how it helps us to live e.g. cups, pencils, TVs and computers
  • Explore the outdoors together and talk about how things change during the day or over the year e.g. the weather or the seasons
  • Pull things apart and put them back together again (e.g. a toy) and discuss what each part does

2 TO 3 YEARS

Your child is now starting to test boundaries and can throw temper tantrums so it’s important you find ways for them to have a break to recharge their batteries. Their memory is developing fast and they can now talk about people who are not with them at the time. This is a time where your child’s imagination is soaring. They enjoy doing things outside the home, so it’s a great time to visit parks and playgrounds. Play time becomes a game of make-believe, where they practice skills and mimic situations they see around them. Use this time to talk to your child about respecting others so they learn how to play fair.

How can you encourage your child’s learning?

  • Give them more experiences by going to different places e.g. park, beach, public swimming pool, shops
  • Sing songs, listen to music and dance together
  • Describe things they can see and hear in their environment e.g. hot, cold, big, loud, green
  • Ask them to solve everyday problems e.g. It’s raining, what do we need to take when we go outside?
  • Try to start toilet training. Start with ‘wees’ first
  • Give them boxes and blocks for building things e.g. pretend houses and bridges
  • Help them develop their motor skills and understand concepts such as ‘under’ and ‘over’ by creating obstacle courses in the home e.g. going ‘over’ pillows, ‘through’ the tunnel, ‘under’ the chair
  • Encourage your child to use their imagination and develop the muscles in their hands by using crayons, paints or chalk

3 TO 5 YEARS

Your child is now a preschooler, who is fascinated by the world around them. They can speak in longer sentences and will start asking lots of ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ questions as they try to understand more about the world.  They enjoy playing with other kids, learning rules and taking turns. And you’ll see them start to form real friendships as they begin to develop their social skills.

How can you encourage your child’s learning?

  • Encourage them to play outdoors
  • Open them up to more experiences by taking them to different places e.g. wildlife park, museum, playgroup, aquarium, library
  • Be creative in setting up play activities e.g. painting, music, arts and craft
  • Build their self-esteem by involving them in your everyday activities and giving them simple helping tasks e.g. help setting the table for dinner
  • Be interested in their questions and take the time to reply
  • Show enjoyment in their success e.g. when they read a word correctly