Have you ever questioned whether you’re doing enough to “educate” your baby?
Somehow society has set the standard that in order to maximize learning potential for your littles and to give them an academic edge, you need to enroll them in as many educational opportunities as possible and you need to buy them all the bells and whistles that claim to teach your kiddo specific skills.
In reality, our babies, from the very day they are born, are bombarded by the 4 pillars of too much: too much stuff, too fast, too much info and too many choices.
And marketers have gotten very clever at pulling on your heartstrings, knowing you will do anything to help your children reach their full potential.
Sure it’s fun to take a class with your babe to get out of the house, or to enroll in a program to meet new friends, but the truth is that the best learning for your baby happens in the daily routines and interactions of every day life, not a 45min class once a week.
Educating your baby is really about:
- Developing a relationship of trust with them, so they feel confident enough to take the initiative to make discoveries on their own. Educating babies really isn’t about what you specifically teach them, but about how you make them feel. Knowing that you are always there for them and knowing you’ll always respond consistently to their needs, upsets, frustrations, etc. helps them feel safe. Only when they develop that trusting relationship with you will they be open to taking in all the learning opportunities around them.
- Talking to them and helping them understand what is going on around them. When we think of education, we often think about a structured learning environment where activities are set up with a specific learning outcome, but young children are constantly learning from everything that is happening around them, so take the time to describe things that are happening in their surroundings and keep them in the loop of what’s going on so they can learn how the world works.
- Giving them time to engage in free play on their own. Play comes naturally to children, so stop yourself from directing their play or showing them what to do. When we overstep our role and constantly interrupt their play, our kiddos become dependent on us to show them what to do all the time, and once you develop that habit they’ll be constantly demanding your attention to entertain them.
- Providing quality play objects for them to interact with. Having a few open-ended toys for babies to combine in different ways goes a long way in helping them learn important life skills. This is much more effective than having loads of developmentally inappropriate toys scattered everywhere, which is just overstimulating.
- Helping them learn about their emotions and how to self-regulate. This probably gets the least attention when talking about learning for babies. One, because it’s uncomfortable. Two, because we don’t think babies understand. Yes it’s painful to watch our littles upset and all we want to do is take their pain away, but supporting them in regulating their emotions and teaching them tools to do so will have a huge impact on your kiddo’s self-esteem and confidence. You may not believe it, but babies actually understand a lot more than you think they do. We just don’t give them enough credit.
It is through this type of every day interaction and engagement that your baby learns important skills, and this is really what the focus should be on when thinking about ways to support your baby’s development.
You may have noticed, these skills have nothing to do with learning their ABC’s, 123’s, colors or numbers. Rather it’s about learning fundamental life skills that stimulates their brain development, which will help them set the foundation for future academic learning.
This in essence is what “educating” babies are all about.