The majority of brain development occurs in the first three years of a child’s life so when you play, sing or read to your child and give them time to respond, you will help them make the most of this opportunity.
Why am I doing this? By listening and speaking children develop the ability to think and understand experiences. As your child grows then their language develops and becomes more complex so they are able to have more complex thoughts and ideas. You and the family are the first source of language and learning. Your child will get better through listening and speaking. They need chance to practise words and to hear them.
How can I do more? Talk about the things you see around you and their colours. When you are out and about name the things you see. Explain new words, show shapes that you see around you. Talk about animals as you point them out in a book or if you see them out and about.
Just keep talking and listening.
A puppet can be useful to hold the attention of a child. It can become a little friend to share moments of joy or sadness with, or have a laugh with. It can help your child to communicate. When a child is spell-bound by a puppet they can learn without even realising.
Making a simple sock
puppet with your child
What you will need
Cotton wool or googly eyes
Wool for hair
What to do
Put the sock on your hand, and make a mouth by tucking a bit between your palm and fingers.
Then ask your child where its eyes should be, and stick the cotton wool balls on the sock with glue (or the googly eyes if you have them).
Use a felt tip to draw on a nose.
Cut some wool strands and glue them in place.
Give it a funny name and a silly voice and make your child giggle!
Make bath time a enjoyable part of your child's routine. It can be a very special time shared with you and your toddler. Talk and laugh with your child as you bathe them.
It can also be a very good way of getting them ready to go to bed. If they know they are going to have a chance to have one more play with an adult before sleep time it will reinforce that they are loved and cared for.
When your baby is old enough to sit up, give them a little sponge, a bath toy, or plastic cups. For instance, you might count out loud to see how many little cups of water go into a bigger cup. Check out the site to find 10+ fun things to do in the bath that will encourage discussion. Check out bath time fun.
Rhythm in Words
Enjoy the rhythm in words. Make rhythms out of your child's name or their friends' names. Chant, clap or drum those rhythms out - "Aoi-fe-Sull-i-van" or "Seán-Mac-Lough-lin". Do the same with phrases like "rash-ers-and-saus-a-ges" or "Cork-and-Kil-ken-ny" or "Dub-lin-Dub-lin". See if they can hold their own rhythm while you drum or chant another rhythm at the same time.
Starting Nursery 3- 4
When its time for your child to start nursery it can be very stressful for them.
1) Talk positively about this what it will be like.
2) Talk about what you will need and let them help with choosing what they want to wear. (Try to sort out the clothes the night before to avoid the rush in the morning).
4) If your child settles quickly, it's best to say "bye bye" and leave promptly. Try not to hang around too long.
5) Reassure your child that you will be there to collect them later and leave.
6) Always be on time when you collect your child. It can be frightening if they think you have forgotten them.
7) When you pick them up, make sure you give them some quality time to tell you about their day. They might not be ready to talk about their day until after you have arrived home. Be ready to listen.
Make time to talk.
Every Picture tells a story
Every picture tells a story - Pictures - pictures everywhere - in story books, in magazines and newspapers, on birthday cards, and social media. Pictures are a great way to encourage your child to talk. Make comments, ask questions, and listen to what your child has to say.
A lot of pictures have a story attached to them. Ask questions - what do you think is going to happen next? who do you think these people are? Are they happy or sad? etc...
There are no right or wrong answers - it's whatever you say it is. This is a good way of encouraging your child to talk, and to learn about the structure of stories.
Some story books have now words just pictures. These are ideal for creating a story with your child.
The Taste Game (5 - 7)
Some food is salty, some is sweet, some is sour; some food is smooth, some is crunchy. Here is a taste game to enjoy the differences. If your child is a fussy eater, choose foods that you are sure they like, and reassure them.
Without your child seeing, lay out some tiny chunks of food on a clean tray.
Without letting them see the food ask them to taste each piece one at a time and see if they can tell you what they are. (go to learning 5+ to find full instructions)
Museum Trip (8 - 9)
A museum can seem like a boring place at this age. It's because there is too much to see and too much information to take in. You can make it more interesting by doing a few simple things.
1) Treat it like a treasure hunt. Before you start, print out some images from the museum website and ask your child if they can find the object.
2) Talk to them about the object if you manage to find it and ask questions - is it smaller than they expected, what was it used for, how old is it, what is it made out of?
3) Tell them interesting stories about an object or two - whether it's the Egyptian mummy or a Viking sword. Connect it to things they know already.
4) Stay for a short time and then go and have an ice-cream. Keep it enjoyable.
Having a Laugh (10 - 12)
Children love to hear and tell jokes – the cheesier the better. Telling jokes is a good way to build their confidence for speaking out.
Try out the jokes below with your child.
Why was the Egyptian girl worried?
Because her daddy was a mummy!
Why were the early days of history called the dark ages?
Because there were so many knights!
What do you get if you cross a tiger with a kangeroo?
A stripey jumper!
What did the policeman say to the tummy?
You are under a vest!