It takes a village to raise a child. There’s no denying that parenting is one of the world’s most challenging—yet rewarding—jobs. And while there’s no single “right” way to do it, some tried-and-true strategies can help support your child’s development.
Why Parental Support is Important
A child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life. This is a critical time for learning. Parental support can help ensure their child has the best possible foundation for success.
Numerous studies have shown that children with a supportive home environment do better in school and life than those who do not. One reason for this is that children who feel loved and supported are more likely to have higher self-esteem. They know that they are valued and are more confident in themselves. This confidence allows them to take risks and try new things, which is essential for learning.
In addition, when parents show an interest in their child’s development, it encourages the child to continue learning. Children are constantly exploring and trying to make sense of the world around them. If they see that their parents value learning, it will motivate them to keep doing it.
How to support your child’s development
Your responsibilities as a parent don’t end with providing food and shelter. You also play a vital role in your child’s development. Here are some things you can do to support your child:
Encourage Exploration & Creativity
One of the best ways to support your child’s development is to encourage their natural curiosity. Set up an “exploration station” in your home with age-appropriate toys, materials, and books. As your child begins to explore and experiment, be sure to give them plenty of space and time to create without interruption. And don’t forget to celebrate their creativity! Show interest in what they’ve made and offer gentle encouragement along the way.
Enroll them in a nurturing childcare center
Another great way to support your child’s development is to enroll them in a nurturing childcare center. A good childcare center will provide a safe, nurturing environment for your child to grow and learn. They’ll also have access to experienced teachers and caregivers who can help support their development. Here, they will be able to socialize with other children their age and learn essential life skills such as sharing, cooperation, and communication.
Read to them every day
Make reading a part of your daily routine. Not only will this help your child develop essential literacy skills, but it will also foster a love of learning. Choose books that are interesting and age-appropriate, and take turns reading aloud. As your child gets older, ask them questions about the story and encourage them to retell it in their own words. It would also be ideal to visit the library together, so they can pick their own books.
Sing songs and play games together
Singing songs and playing games together is a great way to bond with your child and support their development. Games such as “I Spy” and “Simon Says” help with memory, concentration, and following directions. And singing lullabies or children’s songs helps with language development and pitch recognition. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun!
Limit screen time
It’s no secret that too much screen time can harm children. Limiting your child’s screen time to no more than one hour per day is important. This includes all screens, such as TVs, computers, tablets, and phones. If possible, avoid having screens in your child’s bedroom so they can wind down and relax without them. Instead, opt for screen-free activities that will help them unwind before bedtime. Try to find a balance between screen time and other activities, such as outdoor play, reading, crafts, and puzzles.
Create a Structure & Routine
Children thrive on routine—it helps them feel safe and secure in their environment. Establishing a daily routine can give your child a sense of order and predictability that will help minimize stress and anxiety. That said, it’s important to be flexible, too; leave some wiggle room in your schedule for spontaneity and free play. A good rule of thumb is to have a general Daily schedule with specific times for meals, naps/quiet time, outdoor play, etc., but leave some unstructured time each day for flexible activities.
Supporting your child’s development takes effort, but it is so worth it! Not only will it benefit them in the short run but also throughout their entire lives. Parents play a crucial role in shaping who their children become, so make sure you are doing everything you can to support your little one’s growth!