Preschool and kindergarten are great ways for your child to learn but learning doesn’t start there. Learning starts every day.
When we say that parents are their child’s first teacher, we mean it. Your child looks to you daily to learn new things.
You can do a lot to encourage that learning. It is important that you recognize your important role as his first teacher. This will encourage you to respond to your baby in ways that encourage his learning and brings you closer together. Even just responding quickly teaches him he can count on you.
Talk to him throughout the day. Point out things to him and name them or describe them. Just hearing these words as the two of you look at an object becomes a lesson.
Repeat words that you say to him over and over. He may even try to say the word when you do this. Even if he doesn’t, he is setting the foundation for learning how to say it tomorrow.
Smile and even make funny faces when you talk together. Make sure you look at his face when you talk with him. Even using a slow playful, loving voice adds to his learning.
When he makes sounds, repeat his sounds. That may encourage him to use more or even try the same sound again.
Change your voice from time to time. Make your voice sound higher or talk slowly and stretch out your words. Make talking fun and see how it improves listening.
Take advantage of all the time you spend together. When you are bathing him, feeding him, or even changing his diapers, talk to him. Sing songs to him. Smile at him. Make a funny face at him. Tell him what you are doing. Let him hear your words.
Even though he obviously can’t read, he still will enjoy hearing you read. He will love it when you point to the pictures of the different individual people or things you see on the page about.
With each book you read, you are encouraging him to become a reader. You are also teaching him words as well as bonding ever more tightly.
Developing a bond
All these ways you are close with him, bring you emotionally closer. All these connect him with you in a special way. At the same time, all of them are ways you are building a closer relationship with him. You are creating a secure connection which is a bond with your baby.
This kind of secure connection will help him grow up to be a more confident person.
So why is this bonding so critical. Actually research has been done that found that babies who were securely attached to their mother at 12 months would turn to her for comfort when exploring an unfamiliar place and even in their early 20s to come out of an argument still feeling connected to their partner. This research suggests that our ability to love, trust and resolve conflict stems in part how we were treated as infants.
Loving your baby may even help her health. Research has found that attentive mothers protect children from stress which may cause sleep disorders, digestive problems, memory issues, depression and even obesity. Perhaps you didn’t realize how important you were.
Bonding with your baby is fun and rewarding. It isn’t doing something the correct way. It is really about watching him and being sensitive to his needs. It is about having a close time with him and responding to him.
What you do today influences his life for a long time. Have a wonderful time together, and you both will see a special payoff.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach current First Teacher Executive Director Nicole Brewer, email email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.