Over the past 25 years, I have had many conversations with the parents of newborns. The most pressing questions usually are about crying babies, sleepless nights and breastfeeding. But a close fourth are questions about ways a parent can interact and play with their infant.
Play is important because it allows babies to explore and make sense of the world around them. According to research done by Zero to Three (www.zerotothree.org), "play promotes a love of learning by stimulating and supporting children in their development of skills, concepts, language, communication and concentration."
Thanks to a wonderful organization, Colorado Bright Beginnings, all parents in Colorado have free access to simple and beautifully designed materials, that includes a developmentally appropriate LearningGames booklet. These materials help develop the child's brain, thinking skills, social skills and build the child's confidence during the first three years.
Because children learn through play, this is a wonderful resource that provides activities for parents to do with their child. These activities are developmentally appropriate, allowing parents to have fun with their child. Games are varied so that many can be used just about anytime and anywhere. Sometimes an older child can even play a game alone.
LearningGames also promotes early literacy and language. The moment of recognizing words on the page is no more the start of literacy than the start of a plant is the moment it breaks through the ground - a lot of "root work" has gone on before. When you play LearningGames with a child you'll know that you are engaged in some of the earliest and most basic parts of literacy development. In the earliest of these games the child's response may be only a glance or smile. Later the child may respond by pointing to an object or picture and still later the child may answer in words.
If you or someone you know has a child that is newborn to 36 months old, they can receive LearningGames and other great Bright Beginnings materials by calling 945-1234, ext. 13, to schedule a free visit. For more information visit our website www.familyvisitor.org.
- Sandy Swanson is the executive director at Family Visitor Programs.
This Parent Talk column should have run on Saturday, March 16. It was omitted due to a copy editor's error.