Any time can be learning time!
Your little one learns so much when you spend time with them. Even with a busy schedule, you can turn a little bit of time into a learning experience for your child. Try these tips to get more out of your time with your little one.
Talk, talk, talk!
You can help your child learn lots of things as you go about your daily routine just by talking about what you are doing. The more you talk with your little one, the better. Even if they are not old enough to talk back, hearing you describe things helps your child’s language development and can help them to do better at school when they’re older.
Creating space in your schedule for dedicated time with your little one really benefits their learning and wellbeing. You don’t need a lot of time or to do anything complicated – just read a book together, sing songs and rhymes, play a game or chat about the day.
Be in the moment
During that dedicated one-on-one time with your little one, be in the moment. Give them your full attention and avoid distractions such as checking your phone or social media. Try to stop thinking about other things – just enjoy your time together.
Try to give your little one lots of positive attention in your everyday interactions together. Look at them, smile, show interest in what they say and do, make eye contact, and be gentle and caring. If they are old enough to talk, make sure you listen to what they are saying and encourage them to participate in conversations with you. This can help your child feel special and important, and build their confidence.
Praise your little one for the things they learn and achieve. You can praise children of different ages for different things – you might praise a baby for learning to clap their hands, a toddler for putting their hat on when asked, or a pre-schooler for trying to tie their own shoelaces. Try using ‘descriptive praise’ – tell your child exactly what it is that you like about what they have done. For example, ‘It was great how you took turns on the swing with your friends’. This helps boost their self-esteem and encourages more good behaviour in the future.
Praise your little one for their effort, not just when they achieve something. For example, ‘You tried really hard to button your shirt yourself, well done! Let’s finish it off together’. Praising effort can encourage your child to try hard in the future, and helps them to see themselves as learners who can master new things. You can also encourage your child before and during activities, for example, ‘Show me how you can put your shoes away’ or ‘Keep going, you’ve nearly finished the puzzle!’
 Colker, LAURA J. “The word gap: The early years make a difference.” Teaching Young Children 7.3 (2013): 26-28. http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/files/tyc/The%20Word%20Gap.pdf