Here are some simple tried and tested sensory and movement lessons that have been effective for 3 of my kids. I hope these would be the start of your baby’s journey as you discover more ways to teach your child.
1. Describe and define what she is doing or what she is holding. You may also encourage her to copy the things that you do.
“We are taking a bath.”
“This is your head, this is your feet.”
“Are you kicking your feet?”
“Give mommy your right hand.”
“This is how we jump.”
2. Use music to teach. In bath time, in play time and most especially in the car.
My son who just turned 4 years old used to love songs but now, he would silently sit still in the car when we play Kids Bible Stories album in the car. Calea on the other hand, we play action songs and animal songs to encourage speech.
Animal sounds – this will encourage your baby to learn in a fun way about vowels, letters and how to put them together. It is sort of an exercise for your baby’s tongue. We practice baby sign language but we make sure that we also practice animal sounds to encourage speech. In this way, they are able to communicate what they need and want
What sound does a cow make? “mooooo”
What sound does an owl make? “hoot hoot hoot”
for baby sign language, we usually teach just a few:
“all done” – both arms raised up in the air. We use this mostly during eating time.
Best to start using 6 or 7 months up
“wait wait” – our own version where we press down the air with our palm
“poo poo” – pointer finger and thumb pressed together and moving it from side to side.
Music will eventually teach your child coordination, to learn to anticipate instruction and to improve their memory. During music, song and dance, I also try to teach my kids to jump with 2 feet and eventually with just 1 leg up. They say that if your child is able to balance with just 1 leg, of both legs then he/she is ready to study concepts.
3. Water is your best friend. Use bath time or pool time to teach.
Be strategic with the toys that you will use during bath or pool time. For us, I used to use colored plastic balls to teach color. I would ask my eldest, Caitie to pick and give me the color red and so on. As we progress, I would write numbers so she can look for the numbers and give me the number that I ask for. You can eventually teach math concepts here like putting 3 balls in a bucket or using letters to form words.
4. Use familiarity
At a young age, I stick letters, numbers and shapes flash cards around the room or near their bed just to get them familiar with these concepts. Then as they get older, it will be easier to combine connections of the concepts like letters that form words.
5. Create a prepared play area
Be strategic with the toys that you buy. Identify what you want your child to learn and that's the toy/s that you buy and prepare in her space. For example, I want my daughter to learn to use her motor skills, so I bought the toy where you need to press a button and a toy pops up. You use your hands to close. So here, we describe what she does and at the same time, teaching her fine motor skills.
“Press the pink triangle.”
“Close the door of the dog.”
As much as possible, teach your child to play with “one toy at a time”. Get a play mat and place it in the middle of the room. When she picks a toy on the shelf, bring her to the center of the room or her place mat to play. Once shes does, guide her to put back the toy. And repeat with others.
Step 1 Demo on your own. Allow your child to learn how to do it.
Step 2 Do it together. Guide your child how to play the toy
Step 3 Watch and allow your child to do it on her own.
Step 4 Leave your child to be able to do it on her own.
Steps 1 to 4 also works with mentoring adults!
6. Use waiting time as an opportunity to teach.
Whenever we are waiting for food at a restaurant, I bring out flash cards to teach the kids eventually it will progress with songs, then reading books then we take out the books and just tell stories, then we take out the stories and learn to converse over the table. What I’m working on now is how my son would be able to converse as a group and learn to wait for his turn. This “trick” also helps me encourage the kids to eat without seeing it as a “chore” .
For sensory lessons, we also practice baby-led weaning wherein we allow our child to eat on her own using her hands. We simply leave safely cut pieces of food on her plate or high chair table and she uses her motor skills to grab or pinch and put it in her mouth. Both Caitie and Calea were able to transition to eating using a spoon happily. As with Ethan, I still need to discover how to make scooping and eating as a routine and not a chore. As Ethan grows older, time at the kitchen becomes our classroom.
7. Create a prepared open space
And most especially, if you want to encourage your child to crawl, walk and have stronger legs, create a safe and open space where he/she can freely explore. These tiny limbs need all the practice and exercise it needs. Strategically position toys in one corner of a room, books in another and create some drills by using pillows or picklers.
Allow your child to roam barefoot and without pants. Make sure that he/she is wearing a comfortable diaper that can make her move around for longer periods of time.
Observe how your child walks while wearing the diaper. Using a diaper that doesn't go “lawlaw” and doesn't rub her inner thighs is what you are looking for. Just like the new Pampers Baby Dry. You can make sure that your child can #gogalaw with the magic gel channels that allows her to walk without a hanging sack. Because it is very important to create uninterrupted play!
I hope these start up tips would encourage you to create more fond memories with your baby. Don't forget to record her milestones!!
*This blog is in partnership with Pampers. All insights are my own.