Parents don’t need to wait until their children are heading to kindergarten to incorporate learning into their everyday lives. In fact, the sooner they start, the better, as studies show that younger minds are better able to absorb new information.
But kids learn better when they’re having fun – so be sure to make it enjoyable. The goal is to get kids excited about learning before they even start school.
“Making learning fun can foster a pursuit of knowledge at a young age,” says Dr. Helen Boehm, a psychologist and consultant for VTech, a maker of age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children.
There are many fun ways to get kids to love learning:
• Read together: Give children a literary kick start by reading together. It will expand their vocabulary, introduce them to the alphabet, expose them to new ideas and foster a love of reading. Choose books with fun and engaging stories and characters, covering subjects that interest them. Make trips to the library seem like a fun treat, and plan visits around the library’s storytelling hour.
• Explore: Visit a children’s museum, historical society or aquarium that has great programs for children. Such programs are usually hands-on, giving children a chance to learn more about history, dinosaurs or art in an interactive way.
• Learning toys: Traditional toys can also provide a fun, educational edge. Instead of a classic teddy bear, consider a customizable one, such as Cody the Smart Cub or Cora the Smart Cub, who can be personalized with a child’s name, favorite stories and songs. The cubs are a great way to introduce kids to valuable every-day life skills, such as daily routines, first words and emotions. Or try the 3-in-1 Race & Learn, a driving simulation game that can build hand-eye coordination and help kids master multi-tasking skills while teaching letters, phonics, numbers and shapes.
Another option is a tablet made for kids, such as the Little Apps Tablet, that features vivid animations and sounds, pretend camera activity, and learning games that teach counting, words, letters and math through activities with progressive learning levels.
• Learn together: Always wanted to study a foreign language? Parents can consider learning with their child. It’s perfect because they’ll both be total beginners. Practicing together will be fun and can be a good distraction for restless kids during errands or in the car. And early childhood is the best time to pick up language skills.
• Food Fun: Plan a trip to a local farm with children. It’s a great way to experience the outdoors and learn how food grows. Many farms have opportunities to “pick your own” produce. Getting kids to help in the kitchen is another terrific way to improve fine motor skills and learn about food and nutrition.
Find more learning resources at www.vtechkids.com/parenting.
Before children even set foot in school, parents can foster a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.