Even at a young age, children are ready to learn. Their brains are like sponges; they are primed and ready to soak up all kinds of knowledge. This can be great but also overwhelming at times. What do you teach? How do you teach them?
We’ll outline fun ways to encourage a love of learning and build a solid foundation for your young child. We’ll also feature additional steps you can take to enhance your child’s education and secure their future, including a review of the Gerber baby plan.
What To Teach and How To Teach It
Teaching your child a few foundational skills such as numbers and letters early on will set the stage for a lifetime of learning and success. The act of actually teaching these foundational skills is all about fun.
Young children learn best when they move, sing, and play. That’s why the best way to teach a child something like the alphabet or simple counting is through games and songs. Even knowing this, however, it can be hard to create these fun games and songs out of thin air.
Fortunately, there are tried and tested activities and games created by others. These activities can be repeated as is or you can create your own twist to make them more personalized for your children.
Here are few games and activities to use as a starting point.
How Kids Can Learn Numbers
Number recognition and identification is a vital educational and life skill. Children, even at a young age, should know what basic numbers look like. Of course, the best place to start is numbers one through 10.
Children can repeatedly study examples of these numbers, but that’s neither fun nor creative. There are ways to make number recognition more exciting without much preparation.
Use Art to Teach Numbers
For children who are artistic or visual, consider pairing numbers and art. Children can practice identifying and forming any number through sensory art projects, painting by number activities, or tracing numbers with a little paint and Q-tips.
Use Games to Teach Numbers
If your child is more kinesthetic and needs to move, consider a number scavenger hunt. Write the numbers your child needs to practice or identify on a sheet of paper. Next, place sticky notes with each number around the house. Let your child search the house to find those sticky notes and match them to the original piece of paper.
This scavenger hunt can be changed depending on the interest and ability of the child or the materials you have on hand. Consider using playing cards or stickers.
Similar to the scavenger hunt activity, children can learn and practice their numbers by completing a maze activity. Create a maze for small cars or action figures that has numbers in the correct order. Add in other maze options with numbers that aren’t in numerical order. Children follow the correct maze with their car and celebrate when they cross the finish line.
Target practice is another great activity for number learning and practice. Create targets labeled with numbers — consider using paper plates, plastic cups, or balloons — and allow your child to knock the corresponding numbers down as you call out a number.
How Kids Can Learn Letters
The alphabet is the first step in learning to read. Children need to be able to identify and form every letter of the alphabet. It’s important children get plenty of practice with these letters.
Use Reading to Teach Letters
The single best way to encourage a child to learn and recognize their letters is to read, read, and read. This doesn’t mean your child needs to read to you or alone, but you and other guardians should read aloud to your child as often as possible.
Use Art to Teach Letters
Another great activity is to involve the senses. Consider a touch and learn activity. Use Play-Doh, pipe cleaners, or shaving cream and encourage your child to create the letters of the alphabet.
Another artistic approach is alphabet art. The possibilities are endless with this activity. Consider writing each letter of the alphabet with every color of the rainbow, or buy or create alphabet stamps so children can stamp the letters in the correct order.
Use Food to Teach Letters
Bring the alphabet to the kitchen and use some of these eat the alphabet activities. Turn some pieces of your favorite meal into letters of the alphabet. Start the morning with alphabet pancakes or take a break in the afternoon to make some alphabet cookies.
Learning the alphabet can also be active. Try a few of these activities to get your child moving while learning those letters. Help your child form the letters of the alphabet with their bodies or go for a neighborhood walk and find letters.
Tips for Teaching Kids
Finding the right activity for your child can be a bit of trial and error. Some activities will be more effective than others, but it can be a long road to find the right way to connect and teach your child. There are a variety of ways to make learning fun and enjoyable.
#1 – Discover Their Passions and Interests
One of the best ways to make learning fun and get a child involved in the process is to connect the material with your child’s passions or interests.
Is your child interested in fire trucks? Visit the library and find books on fire trucks. Is your child interested in snack time? Consider using treats to count and practice numbers.
#2 – Use Hands-On Experiences
Try to make your learning experiences hands-on. Getting a child to use their senses and body to learn or complete a task is proven to make the learning stick. It’s also just more enjoyable for everyone.
#3 – Demonstrate Your Own Passion
Learning isn’t just a moment in the day. It’s a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. One of the best ways to encourage this lifelong pursuit is to show your own passion for learning.
This can be as simple as talking about what you’re learning. Share your excitement, new ideas, and challenges. Show your child that learning happens all the time, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
#4 – Find Your Child’s Learning Style
Not everyone learns the same way. Some people need to hear information while others need to read it or see it. Finding and understanding your child’s learning style is a great way to make learning fun. It will also help your child understand how to tackle tough material later on.
#5 – Be Supportive
The best way to teach your child is to be supportive. Sometimes children can get stuck in the learning process. It gets more challenging and more difficult.
But learning isn’t about production or outcomes. It’s about the journey. Be sure to encourage your child and offer support at every turn.
A Solid Foundation and Insurance
If learning is a lifelong process, then it’s a good idea to plan for the future. With young children, many people look toward college and even graduate studies. Learning numbers and the alphabet is a great first step, but parents can also prepare financially.
There are options for saving, and many parents choose the Gerber Life College Plan. Ultimately, this savings plan is life insurance, but it allows parents to build a college nest egg without the risk of losing the investment. It’s guaranteed money with fixed monthly payments.
There are some options parents can choose to personalize their child’s plan, whether buying direct or through an agent. Creating this savings plan is just another step in creating a solid foundation for your child.
Laura Gunn researches and writes for the insurance comparison site, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. She is planning the educational future of her two young boys and wants all parents to know the options available to them.