The brain learns best when it's challenged with new information. Babies and children learn certain skills most easily during particular "windows of opportunity." Read on to find out at what ages babies reach these windows of opportunity for emotional, verbal, and logical skills, and learn how to help the process along.
Emotions: Birth to 18 Months
Emotional intelligence, which involves an understanding of others, predicts about 80% of a person's career success. Emotions such as empathy, happiness, hopefulness and sadness are shaped by how the infant is nurtured. With a well-developed emotional intelligence, a person tends to form good moral standards for himself. Although emotional intelligence continues to develop through adolescence, a baby's early experiences form the basis for a lifetime. Here are some methods for enhancing your baby's early emotional skills:
- Provide a secure and consistent environment for your baby.
- Smile often.
- Acknowledge and verbalize the emotions that your baby is feeling.
- Show empathy when baby is upset.
- Bond with your baby on their level; "converse" through baby sounds.
- Explain why you're saying "no" instead of just saying it.
- Allow your baby to help in family activities, such as sorting laundry.
- Express positive feedback for good behavior.
- Explain when and how your baby's actions affect others.
Speech: Birth to Age 10
Babies are born with the ability to learn any language. The more spoken communication a baby is exposed to, the quicker and more thoroughly the baby will learn that language. Babies and children also quickly pick up grammar and sentence construction in a way that adults learning a new language can't. Here are some tips on guiding your baby's language development:
- Start reading to your baby at a very young age.
- Talk back to baby's cooing and babbling.
- Point out and name things around you.
- Repeat yourself often.
- Pronounce words clearly.
- Use daily life activities to explain what you're doing.
- Sing songs and teach your baby the words.
- Play language games with your baby… like nursery rhymes.
- Consider teaching your child a second language while he/she is still young.
Math and Logic: Age 1 to 5
Problem-solving skills are directly related to sight, hearing and touch. Interestingly, a baby's math skills are often developed in conjunction with his musical skills. By stimulating these senses, your baby can develop strong skills in spatial relations and problem solving. Here are some ways to do that:
- Give your baby different shapes, objects and colors to touch and see.
- Expose your child to classical music.
- Give your baby toy musical instruments to play with.
- Attach a mirror in your baby's crib.
- Carry your baby facing outwards so they’ll have lots to look at.
- Provide an assortment of toys that can be taken apart or put together.
- Give your baby toys that make noise when it’s squeezed or pulled. It teaches your baby the concept of cause and effect.
- Teach your baby to put things in categories.
- Play counting games.
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