Helping Young Children Learn

Parenting Thoughts

Learning Games
Conversations without words.  We try to teach our school age children and teenagers to not “talk back.”  But, that is exactly what we do want to teach our babies. If you make funny noises or coo at them, they will likely do the same thing back at you. If you go back and forth with noises, coos, and giggles, even without any words, babies are making connections with you and are learning about conversation.
Words are everywhere.  Even before your children can read, you can read words to them out loud. They might be words in a book or magazine, words on signs, words on envelopes, etc. This is how children learn the names of things and see that written words mean something.
Make silly mistakes on purpose.  Once in awhile, try making mistakes on purpose. Say that an apple is an orange or that your car is a bicycle. In order to correct you, they have to:
  • pay close attention to what you are saying
  • trust that they are right about what they already know
  • not be afraid to think for themselves.
Stick to things in order to reach a goal.  Play statues with your children to teach them:
  • not to be distracted
  • to stay on course to reach a goal.
  • Playing statues means that one person pretends to be a statue – being very still like they are made of concrete. Another person tries to make the “statue” laugh or move. Take turns being the statue.
Feelings. Make a feeling face for your children. Have them make the opposite feeling face. You can do it live face–to-face, or you can do it as a drawing game. For example, you can make a crying face, and they might come back with a laughing face. You might make an angry face, and they might make a kissy face. This is a way for children to learn about different feelings that others might be feeling – in other words, they are learning about empathy.
Adapted from as reported in AARP Bulletin (January/February 2019).