Quality of time not quantity is important for child development

Working mothers are often time poor, but you needn’t feel guilty for the time you spend at your desk. Not only are you being a great role model for your child, but it’s the quality of time you spend with your child rather than quality that’s most important for their development.

The most important thing a parent can do for their child is being engaged in stimulating intentional play. Even if for an hour, throwing and catching a ball, building puzzles, playing games, etc. and talking, you will see huge growth and progress.

How much time a parent should spend with their child is age specific. But it is important to remember that the early years of a child’s life are years or rapid development and change. And, it’s because of this that it is important to understand key developmental landmarks: physical-motor, social/emotional, language, play and cognitive to ensure you do activities to stimulate these key developmental areas. Here are some suggested activities:

0 – 12 months

• When feeding look your child in the eyes and talk to them
• Massage your child’s feet to improve circulation and aid walking and balance when they are older
• Hold and move an object 30cm from your child’s face to strengthen their eyes which will help with their reading
• Talking to your child throughout the day, telling them their name, pointing to body parts exposes children to language
• Introduce your child to music and teach them to clap their hands
• Read simple books to teach new words and new objects

1 – 2 years

• Play clapping games and dance to music. Use this as an opportunity for them to also interact with children and adults
• Read books and introduce new words and objects
• Go outdoors, talk about nature and encourage them to touch and count what they see. Even play in the sand and mud
• Build with blocks: this helps with math as they get older
• This is a great age to teach children their body parts

2 – 3 years

• Play outdoors in the sand and grass and expose children to nature
• A child should be able to identify and name body parts
• Encourage your child to draw and thread beads. By using their hands their fingers will strengthen
• Allow your child to mimic you, be it sweeping, talking on the phone or doing the dishes
• Make musical instruments from household items
• Play catch with a big ball

3 – 4 years

• Thread beads in sequence
• Play hopscotch  – this is great for balance
• Your child should be able to dress themselves at this point, so also teach your child about hygiene, they should be able to wash, brush their hair and teach and understand healthy eating
• Kick a ball to one-another – this is great for physical strength
• Throw and catch different sized balls, and introduce targets to throw a ball into
• Make and dance to music. Clapping games are also important.

4 – 6 years

• Sort objects with your child, count with them and identify numbers
• Play with colour and use pictures in your play. This helps with their eyes’ development
• Give your child responsibilities appropriate to their age
• Read to your child and get them to re-tell you the story
• Play guess the object from a description you give
• Get out of the house and encourage your child to speak with other children and adults. Going out for breakfast or lunch is a great way to do this

These are a tiny selection of suggested activities, but do things which bring out your child’s talents, develop them appropriately and of course spend time developing a bond and making them feel loved and cared for.

By: Dr. Lauren Stretch of Early Inspiration
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