As parents, it is our duty to make sure our children grow up to be healthy, happy, and successful individuals. But the question is, how can we grow clever humans? It’s a cliché to say your baby’s brain is a sponge but in fact, the level of learning they’re capable of is truly astonishing. As they absorb the world around them, they are simultaneously learning how to communicate both verbally and non-verbally, learning practical abilities while also learning social skills. They are geniuses as babies and it’s your job to grow them into clever humans. Here’s how:
From the simple act of saying “hello” to more complex ideas and conversations, language allows us to connect with others and share our experiences. Language also plays an important role in brain development, which is why it’s essential to start introducing language to children as early as possible.
When children are exposed to language early on, it helps them recognise patterns and build the foundation for future learning and language skills. Studies show that children who are exposed to a rich language environment have better reading and writing abilities, improved critical thinking, and stronger communication and social skills. This makes them more prepared for school which means they’re more equipped to do well in education.
Early language also supports the development of emotional and social skills. Children who are exposed to language from an early age are more confident in expressing their feelings and thoughts, leading to stronger social relationships and giving them better control over their emotions.
Tips for Supporting Language Development
1. Read to your child. This is one of the most effective ways to promote language development. It exposes your little one to new vocabulary, sentence structure, and storylines that help them understand the world around them and build their language skills.
2. Encourage conversation. By talking to your child, no matter how young they are, you are aiding their language development. Ask simple questions, tell them new things and encourage them to express themselves.
3. Singing and rhyming are fun and effective ways to promote language development. They teach children about sound patterns and help them to recognise and remember words.
4. Play games like “I spy” and “Simon Says”. These are excellent games for promoting language development in a fun way. They encourage children to listen, follow directions, and use language in creative ways.
5. Expose children to new experiences, places and people. Experiences like going to the zoo or a museum offer opportunities for new words in an enriched learning environment. Head to Gallery Oldham and explore the art and activities
6. Use descriptive language: Instead of using simple words, teach your child descriptive words like “big,” “small,” “soft,” and “hard.” As they learn these, make the words more difficult like “gigantic” or “miniscule”. Descriptive language encourages children to develop their vocabulary and thinking skills.
7. Give lots of praise. Positive reinforcement is essential for building good behaviours and is fantastic for promoting language development. Praise your child when they use new words or phrases, particularly when they use a difficult work in the right context.
8. Limit screen time. While there are lots of educational shows and apps for children, it’s essential to limit screen time to make space for social interactions and real-life experiences that promote language and brain development in a real world environment :
- Chatterboxes – fun speech and language activities for 2-5 year olds
Good nutrition is essential for children’s growth and development, and it contributes significantly to their ability to learn, develop and concentrate. Your child’s physical and mental development relies heavily on the quality of nutrients they receive. For instance, the consumption of iron and protein-rich foods helps with the growth of muscle and brain tissues, while Omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones you get in oily fish, are critical in the development of the brain and can improve mood, concentration, and memory.
Children who have access to balanced diets are more likely to have positive self-esteem, better sleep, enhanced learning and concentration skills, better mood, and behaviour.
Parents play a significant role in ensuring children’s proper intake of nutrients. The food children eat should be varied, fresh, and wholesome. Avoid processed food as much as possible. You can still buy foods that are nutrient-rich and good value by buying frozen or tinned fruits and vegetables which are packed while they’re at their freshest.
Promote Wholesome Snacks
Offer healthy snacks to your child, such as hard-boiled eggs, hummus with cucumber, and carrots, celery, and peanut butter, low-fat cheese, whole fruits, unsweetened dehydrated fruits, or nut mixes.
Offer your children healthy fats such as nuts, avocado, oily fish, etc. But make sure it’s in moderation. Be careful with unhealthy fats from processed foods.
If your child is under 5, the NHS says you should not give themwhole nuts and peanuts, as they can choke on them. You can give your baby crushed, ground or smooth nuts and peanuts, such as peanut butter, from around 6 months old. However, if your little one has a history of allergies if there are allergies in your family, talk to your GP or health visitor before introducing nuts and peanuts
Offer lots of water
Staying hydrated is critical for your child’s overall health. Ensure your child drinks sufficient water daily, with fewer fizzy or sugary drinks. Your child may not remember to ask for water, so be sure to offer it frequently. Your child’s urine should be pale yellow and never smell.
Plan Your Meals
Planning a weekly meal menu and shopping list based on whole foods not only saves time but provides well-rounded nutrition for the whole family.
Find fun ways to learn about nutrition together
Learning that fats and oils help our bodies absorb vitamins, while fibre helps keep our digestive system working may not be the kind of fun facts you want to learn when you’re little. But from games to crafts or even cooking together, there are plenty of fun ways to learn about nutrition.
Healthy Start card
- Apply for a healthy start card – nhs.uk website
You could be entitled to a Healthy Start Card if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4. If you are eligible, your card will be topped up every 4 weeks to spend in some shops on:
- plain liquid cow’s milk,
- fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
- infant formula milk based on cow’s milk
You can also access Healthy Start Vitamins for children by collecting from a Family Hub, satellite hub or children’s centre.
The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is a fact with significant implications for growing children, while early language development lays the foundation for future learning, social, and emotional skills. By nurturing these areas you are growing your little one into the smartest version of themselves.
While this guide will put you on the right track, it’s also important to know that children develop at different speeds. But if you think your little one may be late in meeting their milestones, speak to a health visitor.