Children start learning as soon as they are born, and you are their first teacher.
Be Your Child’s Best Teacher
For kids, every interaction is a chance to learn something. The best way to help your child learn is to take advantage of everyday moments and turn them into learning opportunities. This is easier than it sounds, and you are probably using a lot of the tips on this page already!
Love: When your child feels secure in their bond with you, they can focus on learning from their surroundings. The first three years of life is an especially important time for children to have steady, calm relationships with their caregivers. This builds a lifelong foundation for the way that they will communicate and form relationships with others. One way to form a loving bond with your child is through touch: hugs, holding hands, and other comforting physical contact.
Talk: Even if your child is too young to fully understand what you are talking about, they are learning about how language works when they hear you speak. Narrating what you are doing as you go about your day will help your child learn and understand. Reading signs out loud to them, or describing what is going on around you as you walk around the block all help our child learn.
Play: when you play with your child you are teaching valuable social skills like sharing and taking turns, as well as skills like stacking blocks and matching shapes. These are the building blocks to more advanced skills.
Kids learn from kids
Kids learn so much from interacting with each other. It goes beyond the necessary social skills of sharing and taking turns. Playing with other kids also helps boost the skills that help kids succeed in school and beyond! During play time, kids are learning how to test ideas, think about imaginary scenarios, and observe their peers who have mastered a more advanced skill.
For kids in preschool and older, play is a part of the school day. If your child is younger and is usually home with you, consider library story time or a play group. Play groups are a great chance for kids to interact with each other and start learning how to play with other kids. Many communities have free play groups for kids These groups are also a great way to meet other parents—find a play group near you.
Parents Learn from Parents
Being a parent is amazing, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming at times. You have to take care of yourself in order to be a good parent to your child. Luckily, there is a lot of support available to boost your confidence and help you be the parent you want to be.
In-home parent support: In-home parent support programs (sometimes called home visiting) give you access to a dependable professional who can answer your questions and help you prepare for and adapt to your growing family. These free, voluntary programs begin serving parents while they are pregnant or have a newborn baby. They will meet with you one-on-one a couple times a month to teach new skills, cheer you on, and work through whatever you’re facing at that time. Depending on the program, the person who visits can be a nurse, a teacher, or a parent who is trained to mentor other parents. The topics you cover are tailored to your needs and interests.
See if you qualify for in-home parent support by calling the Help Me Grow Washington Hotline at (800) 322-2588.
Parenting classes: Taking a parent education class can help you build skills and adjust to the challenges of raising a family. Having these skills can create a healthy relationship and build a strong bond between you and your child. These teach strategies for promoting secure and healthy relationships between caregivers and children.
Parent support groups: Attending a new parent support group is a great way to meet other parents and get support when you have an infant or young baby. Many groups are free or just ask for a small donation. Common issues that are discussed usually include infant sleep, infant nutrition, changes in your relationship and how to deal with a fussy baby. It’s great to know you don’t have to face these challenges alone.
Modeling Healthy Habits
Children learn by copying what you do, not from hearing what you say. That means that it’s up to you to show them healthy behaviors at home. From eating healthy foods to making sure you always wear your seatbelt, your child is taking cues from you. The same thing goes for relationship-building and communication skills. Modeling loving and caring relationships with other adults will show your child how to build their own relationships later in life.