Yes, we’re grateful for healthy, happy babies. But don’t we all want our kids to be brilliant too? I do. I’m not talking about the level of genius that lands national talk-show appearances or gains early admission to Harvard. I’d just like my boys to be blessed with brains that let them breeze easily through life: little struggle, lots of opportunity.
As it turns out, we parents have a hand in making that happen — and not just in the genes we pass along. Science clearly shows that baby’s brain development depends, largely, on his early experiences and not experiences with fancy DVDs or brain-enhancing toys. “You are the best toy in the room,” says Gina Lebedeva Ph.D., director of translation, out-reach and education at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Our brains have evolved to learn from other brains.”
Simply engaging with baby in positive, everyday ways helps her build the trillions (yes, trillions!) of brain connections that lead to language development, problem-solving skills and the emotional IQ that’s so important for getting along — and ahead! — in the world. But if it feels like school, you’re trying too hard. The key is to have fun with your little one as you help her to see — and hear, smell, feel and taste — how incredibly interesting everything around her is. Try these 12 easy and fun baby learning activities you can use on the go and during snacktime or playtime.
When you’re out and about
Play tour guide
Narrating your day helps baby pair words with what he’s seeing, says Kathy Gruhn, a speech-language pathologist and author of My Baby Compass. Speak slowly, simply and in that higher-pitched “child-directed speech” that slips out naturally (research shows it enhances baby’s learning). Feel ridiculous talking to yourself? Don’t, because you’re not. Months before they talk, babies understand much of what you’re saying and may even start making incredible connections. Take it from Hillary Homzie, a mother of three boys in Napa, California. “When my oldest was 6 months old, I got a job writing a travel book on Philadelphia and took my son on my trips — to the aquarium, the insect museum, the Italian market,” says Homzie. “I narrated everything. At 14 months, he pointed to pasta at a farmer’s market and said ‘money noodles.’ I realized I’d told him about penne: ‘penny’ ‘money.’”
Help him take it all in
If you’re on a walk and hear a dog, ask your baby, “What do you hear?” suggests Gruhn. Then give the answer: “Dog. Bark. Ruff! Ruff!” Do this every time you encounter a barking dog and your child will probably start answering with the sound (Ruff! Ruff!), says Gruhn. Eventually, he’ll refine his response to “dog.” Try a similar approach to teach him about physical sensations. If it starts drizzling while you’re out, before you run for cover, let him experience the mist on his face. He won’t melt. Say, “Feel the rain. Rain. Wet.” Then cover the stroller and hustle home.
To read the whole article, do visit http://www.parenting.com.