You’ve probably heard the phrase “kids are like sponges,” when it comes to early learning. It’s true, and new scientific research makes it clear that a child’s brain develops in very important ways during the first five years of life. Exercising your child’s brain in these early years is like strength-training for the mind. By talking, reading and singing, you’re helping to build connections in the brain that will affect your child’s life forever.

At this stage, kids begin to form reason and start building a concept of how and why things work. Their reasons may be absurd, ridiculous and sometimes adorable. It is important for you to listen and explain why things are the way they are.

Explore – When your child is getting dressed, pick out their pants and ask them to find a shirt that matches. Listen to their reasoning of why certain colors go together. If it doesn’t make sense, explain why.

Show – Show your child how to turn the light switch on and off. Say “on” and “off” and see if they can match your words. Take turns giving and taking directions. This helps kids learn the essential concept of cause and effect.

Be silly – Dance to your favorite music. Shake a leg, wiggle your hips and ask them to follow your steps. Next, ask them to lead, while you follow their steps! There are many benefits of music in early childhood development.

Reason – When you’re doing laundry, help them pick socks that match. Notice what they pick, and if they choose to match by pattern, color or size. Talk about the differences. When putting away laundry, let them decide where things go. Ask them for their reasons, and correct them if they’re wrong. Explain why your reasons are correct.

Having lots of conversations with your child, sharing songs and reading regularly will set him or her on a path for success. Keep up with their development by incorporating age appropriate activities that are not only fun, but also educational.

Related articles

Promoting early brain development is part of HealthPartners Children’s Health Initiative, which is aimed at improving the health and well-being of children from pregnancy through age five. Brain, cognitive and behavioral development early in life are strongly linked to health outcomes later in life, including cardiovascular disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, drug use and depression. Learn more about HealthPartners Children’s Health Initiative.