All parents want is for their children to be healthy, happy, and perform well in school.
But education doesn’t have to be put off until kids start elementary. They can actually start learning, and enjoy the concept of learning before then, at home – with their Christmas presents.
And if they do, this could actually influence their academic achievement in school, according to a recent study published in Applied Developmental Science. Yep, exposing your kids to positive home-learning environments early in life could impact how they perform in school. No, we’re not talking about an iPad with games.
When we say home learning, we’re talking about engaging in meaningful conversations with your children, taking them through learning activities, plus giving them books and toys designed to increase learning, as by doing this they’re more likely to develop early cognitive skills that can lead to later academic success.
Daily Hive has teamed up with Dr. Clement Chau, director of learning for VTech and LeapFrog, to highlight three gifts for kids that offer lasting play value while contributing to their early learning development.
The very first introduction to literature a kid gets is with a book. And this has huge lasting benefits. Think about what will appeal to your child when you’re buying them a book, if they love trucks or fairies, perfect, get them a book on the topic. Make sure the book has vivid, clear imagery because that’s a must for young children, that the illustrations correspond to the storyline. Well-written stories that offer imaginative, rich, and challenging, age-appropriate language, are a great option. If you can find a book that has new and difficult vocabulary where words and meanings can be inferred from the context of the story, buy it. Also, timeless themes will help children and adults enjoy reading together, are a great choice.
If you want to help build your child’s communication skills, look out for gifts that encourage pretend play activities that you can both participate in. For example, a play tea set is perfect to host a good old-fashioned tea party. Play mobile phones like Kidibuzz are excellent for pretend play as they have more than 40 learning games and other apps, which makes them of those toys that have a secret ingredient: learning (…kids will never know). Costumes are also another great gift to promote pretend play so you can dress up with your child, invite their stuffed animals, and encourage polite table manners. Your child can transform into a doctor, princess, or teacher, while you play their patient, prince or student.As children grow, these pretend play activities will help children learn to use language to communicate ideas in clear and strong ways. Plus, they’ll have a load of fun at the same time, so it’s a win-win situation.
If your child asks for video games for Christmas, toys could be a better option. As a fun, common gift, they can also be a great resource for learning. Have a look for toys that offer much more such as developmental and educational play. A lot of baby and infant toys introduce a variety of valuable ‘firsts’ like colours, letters, numbers, and animals, in delightful and appropriate ways. You can also help give your children the chance to strengthen their fine motor skills by buying them gifts of blocks, puzzles and playsets with track pieces. Board games can also help with problem-solving techniques while push-and-pull toys encourage movement.
This season, you can shop for gifts that will give your kids more than just five minutes of fun. You can actually help contribute to a strong early home learning environment that will lay the foundation for a bright academic future.