Infant Early Learning
Infants are learning to use their senses to take in information about the world. They are beginning to gain control of their bodies so they can interact with their environment. They need things to look at and touch and hear. They are learning to interact with you to get their needs met and to follow routines that will help with self-regulation. All of these skills are important for later learning in reading, writing, social interactions, and reasoning. By the time children are crawling and then walking, they will be able to do more of the activities listed below.
CRAYONS & MARKERS
As your child gains more control over the muscles in her hands, she may try to copy what you do with yours - which leads to the first writing trials. Young infants are not ready for crayons and markers, but offering safe objects for them to grasp gets them ready for this next step. If you give your older infant a paper and crayon, she will try to make strokes. That's great practice for letter writing that comes much later!
- Display your child's handprint in the home demonstrating to her "I value who you are and the things you do."
- Massage baby's hand, move fingers, individually.
- Make marks on a paper and see if the baby will imitate you. Take turns "writing." In an excited voice, praise baby's efforts - "Look what (baby's name) did!"
- Encourage your child to make large circular scribbles on the paper and talk about what she is doing.
Music is a way to turn everyday activities into fun. Children love to move, sing, and simply let music become part of themselves. Moving with you to the rhythm of music and instruments is important for your baby's physical and language development. Musical instruments can be made out of many household objects. Oatmeal box drums, plastic bottles and wooden spoons are favorites. The possibilities are endless.
- Sit face to face with your baby and sing. Repeat any "singing" she does by mimicking her sounds.
- Mirror your baby's movements in response to the rhythm of the music.
- When playing with instruments such as a drum, bell or blocks, name them for your child as you use them.
Water can provide hours of fun for children - whether in the bathtub, the kitchen sink, a dishpan, or a wading pool. Water provides lots of opportunity for children to use their senses, their muscles, and beginning words. Be sure to supervise closely!
- Gently pour water on baby's hand – talk about how it feels: warm or cool, wet.
- Float toys on water. Encourage babies to reach for them. As baby is able, encourage him to fill a cup and dump it out.
- Encourage your child to choose what to put in the water.
Babies need lots of things to look at and to reach for. This stimulation will help them learn to use their eyes and hands together. You can encourage reaching by stacking any brightly colored objects close enough for the baby to see and touch. Once she starts crawling, try stacking brightly colored empty food boxes or toys on the floor and see if she will crawl over to knock them over!
- Give your baby eye contact as you hand her various objects. Talk to baby in a quiet, comforting tone of voice.
- Hand her a cup or block and encourage her to bang or shake it. Repeat her movements and take turns.
- Place brightly colored blocks or a cup in front of your baby while she is lying on her stomach. Encourage her to reach for the objects.
TRIP TO THE LIBRARY
Babies learn a lot about the world by noticing new sights and sounds. Take opportunities to talk to your baby about the environment on the way to and from the library and while you are there. As he gets a little older, help him focus on pictures by pointing to objects in the books. Some babies will be able to point just like you do.
- Use facial expressions as you talk and read to your baby.
- Talk to him about what you are doing at the library. Read. Read. Read.
- Crawlers enjoy books with simple object pictures, nursery rhymes, or peek-a-boo pictures. Encourage your baby's fine motor development by picking books with thick pages that can he can turn himself.