Every child is different. When you talk, play and listen you will learn more about them.
Every child is unique. When you talk, listen and play with your child you will learn more about their needs and interests. This will not only help your child develop well but it will also help you build a strong relationship.
When you have a good relationship with your child it can make you both happy. It will also:
- make your child feel secure and loved, which helps their brains develop;
- help you to overcome difficulties with your child’s eating, sleeping, learning and behaviour.
Make time to talk and listen to your child
Learning to talk is one of the most important skills that children need to develop before they go to school. Being able to talk and communicate well is proven to help children make friends, learn to read and have better opportunities in life.
Even in the womb, your baby can hear your voice. From birth your baby will respond to familiar voices. Your baby is born with a brain that has a huge potential to learn.
The first two years of your child’s life are very important. During this time they will learn all the skills needed for talking. These include looking, listening, copying and making early sounds.
Research tells us that a child’s ability to talk is strongly influenced by how much mums and dads talk to their children. Talking and responding to your baby and young child as well as singing, playing and reading together will help your babbling baby grow into a happy and healthy talking child.
Cymraeg (External link) has lots of different resources that can help you to use Welsh with your baby, even if you don’t speak the language very well yourself.
Make time to play everyday
Play is fun for babies and children. It’s also how they learn, and how they work out who they are, how the world works and where they fit into it.
One of the most important things you can do with your child is play. The time you spend playing together gives your child lots of different ways and times to learn.
Play also helps your child:
become more confident
feel loved, happy and safe
develop their social skills like sharing and making friends
learn to talk and communicate
develop physical skills like holding a pencil, writing, walking, climbing; skipping, hopping
connect and refine pathways in their brain.
Your child will be happy if they have plenty of time and space to play. You don’t need lots of expensive toys.
Inexpensive play ideas
Newborn - Although your new-born can't hold toys yet they will still enjoy lots of playful interaction with you. Make faces, smile, laugh and stick out your tongue. Sing nursery rhymes, chat, tickle, count toes or blow raspberries. You can also read to your baby, but hold the book close as newborns can only see close up.
Baby - Give your baby bright and safe things to look at. Blow gently on your baby’s tummy or play pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo. Make some noise together - sing, bash pots and pans and make animal sounds. Share a book - your baby will love spending special time with you.
Toddler - Toddlers love scribbling on paper with crayons, pencils and paints. They usually enjoy playing with water - you can give them empty plastic pots and plastic bottles to play with. Remember to keep a constant eye on your toddler around water. Outdoor play in the garden or park, will give your toddler a chance to let off steam and develop their skills. By the time your toddler is three they will love dressing-up, playing house, and other pretend play. Share a book as this will help your toddler learn to talk.
Child 3-5 - Children love playing in cardboard boxes – they can pretend the box is a shop counter, oven, car, boat and doll’s house. They could paste on coloured pictures cut from magazines. They will enjoy dressing-up - use some hand-me-down clothes and bits of fabric. Give your child some coloured paper, stickers, crayons and washable markers.
There’s lots more ideas for play activities and songs on Words for Life (External link), Mudiad Meithrin (External link) or Playful Childhoods (External link). The Education Begins at Home Facebook page (External link) also has ideas for things to do at home.
Help with words and numbers for children aged 0 to 4
Start using words and numbers with your child when they’re born. Building simple, fun activities into your daily routine will help them develop.
It doesn’t have to take long. Just 10 minutes reading every day will give them the best start in life.
Read together every day.
Sing, read, and repeat.
Point out print everywhere.
Put books where they can be reached.
Join a local library for free.
Be positive about numbers.
Look at shapes, number order and measurements.
Start talking about time.
Learn number rhymes and songs, such as 10 green bottles.
Count as you go about your daily routine.
More information (External links)
- Education begins at home - Hints and tips on how you can support your child at home and help prepare them for school.
- Pori Drwy Stori
- National Numeracy
- Libraries Wales
Make time for quality time together
Try to have some time together as a family. Use time together, such as mealtimes, to talk and share a laugh. Plan things together like going to the park or beach, having a picnic or visiting a museum. There are lots of activities that are completely free. The Family Information Service will have details of things to do in your area. You can contact them by telephone on 0300 123 7777.
By the time your baby is three, 85% of their brain will be formed. When you hold, talk, listen and play with your baby you help their brain to grow.