Activities to Improve Early Development

Mom and Baby sensory activities


People may associate school with learning, but while the world of academia may revolve around schools and other institutions of learning, it can actually happen anywhere and everywhere – especially when it comes to young children. The world is full of things for kids to explore and it is important that they experience as much as possible. Encourage kids to observe, ask questions, and invite them to start learning (and never stop) by inspiring cognitive and language development with these fun, everyday activities.

Textures on Textures

Young kids, namely toddlers, tend to be sensory learners, exploring the world around them with touch, smell, and taste. It’s no wonder that kids love putting their toys in their mouths, or grabbing everything within reach. Keeping this in mind, think of textures, scents and other dazzling things that can grab your child’s attention as well as teach them about the things they see every day. Arts and crafts can allow kids to get tactile with things like beans, cotton balls, pastas, and pipe cleaners. You can even incorporate sensory learning into reading as well! Books aimed at infants are often bulky and made from touch cardboard with the intention that kids will want to touch them or even try to bite them – so let them! Even if your toddler is gnawing on a book instead of reading it, they are becoming familiar with the object in a way they know how. Let kids trace letters, get messy with finger paints, and experiment with other objects they can touch and feel, or even smell and taste depending on the materials you have available.

Measure for Measure

Kids may not totally understand the US measurement system in inches or feet yet, but they can become more familiar with the concept of measuring. Instead of using rulers and tape measures, ask your kids to measure things around the house in objects they are more familiar with: How tall is the table in Legos? How long is the kitchen counter in apples? This can easily turn into a fun game that allows kids to use more familiar sensory objects to understand more abstract ideas and concepts.

Get Labeling

For apprentice readers, reading anything and everything is practice. When making a meal, ask kids to read off the labels of ingredients to you or ask them to help you work your way through the dinner menu. Slap labels on everyday household objects, even the tables and chairs, to get kids used to the idea of reading and making connections. Aside from labeling, you can also make it a habit to ask kids about what letters are in the words of the things around them – What letter does “light” start with? How many objects around the house start with the letter T?

With these everyday activities you can improve early development in children and provide a life long love of learning.

Time-Out Mistakes and How to Solve Them

Child on time out

Disciplining a child can be tough, no matter what your methods, but one time-tested method that many parents resort to is time-out. Time out can be enacted to calm a hysteric, tantrum-throwing child or help drive a point home about certain behaviors. It can also provide kids with time to think about their actions and about how they carry themselves, too. As time-trusted and wide-spread as this method of discipline is, many parents don’t always experience the results they expect to gain from it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends time-outs as an effective discipline strategy, saying that “ignoring, removing, or withholding parent attention to decrease the frequency or intensity of undesirable behaviors” is “especially important in promoting positive child behavior.” But in order for time-outs to be truly effective, parents need to know how to go about enforcing them.

The Empty Threat

Saying you’re going to send a child to time-out might sound like a warning, but for some kids, it could soon become an idle threat that they know won’t be enacted. Sometimes, saying that time-out, or any other disciplinary measure, is imminent can get kids to reevaluate their behavior on the fly and adjust accordingly, but when only threatened enough times, kids may begin to think that time-out is not a reality. When warning kids to use time-out, do so in a firm voice and be prepared to follow through. Like any other punishment, time-out can be adjusted to the situation, but acting on your word can make this method much more effective on a consistent basis.

Too Much or Too Little Time Out

Some experts claim that time-out length should correlate with a child’s age. Kids under the age of two are not likely to be affected by any kind of time-out method, but otherwise time-out (when timed properly) can be helpful. Some studies support the age/minute method, dishing out 2 minutes of time-out for a 2-year-old and 3 minutes for a 3-year-old etc. But others think that a flat, and consistent, five minutes is enough. See what works best for your kids and go from there.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Time-outs don’t help when your child might actually want a time-out. If your child is acting out in places where they already don’t like being, such as the grocery store, giving them a time-out is only giving them what they want. Find other small disciplinary measures to take, such as removing a privilege or a toy, or delaying some other activity later on.

Location, Location, Location

“Go to your room!” may sound like a common disciplinary phrase, but sending a child to their room for time-out may not have the desired or intended effect if their room is full of their own belongings, toys, etc. Find a place where kids are more or less forced to focus on their actions, such as a laundry room or bathroom where they may not forget about their punishment and find themselves distracted.

New Study Reveals Reading Aloud to Kids Really Does Matter

Dad reading to child


A child’s reading behavior and attitude towards reading should always be a thing of importance to parents and caregivers. An interest in reading is more than just about developing a hobby, but it is about developing invaluable skills that will help a child throughout their young lives and beyond. Reading plays a key role in academic performance, personal development, and their ability to understand and communicate with others.

In a study performed by Scholastic and featured in the fifth edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report, the concluded results determined that early literacy was important, especially when parents read aloud to their children during the first five years of their life.

According to the study, most of the 2,558 parents surveyed began reading to their children ages 0 to 5 aloud at home anywhere from as much as 5 to 7 days a week. But as their children got older, these numbers diminished significantly. Even though parents acknowledged the importance of reading and wanted their children to enjoy reading, many (if not most) parents ceased reading to their children once they were able to read independently on their own. Despite this, 40 percent of surveyed children ages 6 to 11 actually wished their parents still read aloud to them.

Researchers working on this study were also interested in patterns that may influence whether children became frequent or infrequent readers. For many frequent readers, aged 6 to 17, there were several factors contributed to their love for reading – but one of the more striking ones included having parents that were not only frequent readers in their own right and parents who read aloud to them often, starting at an early age. The study also revealed that 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read aloud to at home, while only 13 percent of infrequent readers were being read to.

As much as factors like reading aloud can help encourage kids to read more on their own and to be better readers, these behaviors can also result from “a whole constellation of other things that goes on in those families,” said Timothy Shanahan, professor emeritus of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a past president of the International Reading Association. Regardless, it is still worthy to note the numbers when it comes to parents who consistently read aloud to their kids and those who do not – so if you are thinking of foregoing that bedtime story, you may want to think again.