The critical window for sight was primarily established in the first 6 months. The critical windows for brain development from 6 to 12 months of age are speech and emotional development, although these two areas began in the first 6 months. Language capacity grows tremendously during this period, and this is a good time to introduce the natural sounds of other languages.
As a parent you only have to remember five words in order to enhance these two areas. They are love, praise, sing, read, and play. Below are listed some tips for enhancing the building blocks for speech and emotional development for future learning.
- Provide plenty of love and care (hold , cuddle, kiss). Affectionate touch is especially important during the early months. Being held and cuddled frequently is extremely important in the development of a baby’s sense of self-worth and security.
- Talk constantly with your child. It will build vocabulary, develop patterns for learning language, and help create a special bond between parent and child. Face infants when talking to them so they can see and smile with you. Talk about what you are doing, familiar objects, or people. You may even want to babble back or echo sounds your baby makes much as you would in a regular conservation. Even though an infant cannot understand everything you say, he will be learning many words that will form the basis for language later on.
- Read aloud to your child during the day. Establish some specific routines such as reading after meals or bedtime. Telling the same stories and singing the same songs over and over may feel boring to you, but not to your child. Children learn through repetition, repetition, repetition. This principle applies to more than language.
- Play music; sing for and with your child. Have fun.
- Play with your child. Get down on the floor to meet her at her level. Play peek-a-boo and other games such as hiding something out of sight and finding it.
- Provide opportunities for your child to explore his or her environment. Do not keep him caged in a playpen or swing. Provide a bigger safe space for him to explore. Children will learn by doing. That is how they learn best. Older infants need space and time to practice crawling, creeping, pulling up, and walking.
- Praise your child; build self-esteem. When a child master the challenges of everyday life, she feels good about herself, especially when you acknowledge her accomplishments with specific praise. “Wow!” “You’re standing!” “Yea!” Clap to show your enthusiasm.
- Listen and respond to your child. Give your child your undivided attention. It will make him a secure and confident learner. You will not spoil a child by responding to his needs.