Learning is a lifelong process. It begins the moment we’re born, and there’s no limit to how much information we can absorb in a lifetime. The brain, however, develops rapidly during early childhood. Engaging and finding fun ways to include your child in your life will help them build better brain connections, and will have a lifelong effect on their ability to learn language and communicate with others.

Begin to mentally challenge your child at this stage. Continue to involve them in everyday activities. Be creative in keeping them interested in learning.

Question – Ask questions throughout the day, and let your child form their own answers. Aim for 20 questions a day to help keep them engaged.

Challenge – Instead of simply doing things for them, challenge your child to find their own answers. If they are dressing up, ask questions like, “Can you find the clothes you wear on your legs?” Questions will help them exercise their working memory. Presenting the same information in different forms helps brain development.

Play – Play games that involve brain exercise, like scavenger hunt. Ask your child questions like, “How many things in the room are blue?” and, “How many objects start with the letter T?” Teach them to be aware of the environment and to connect similar things. Change things up by using letters, colors and shapes.

Engage – Continue to make chores fun. When you’re doing laundry, ask them to sort clothes by color – then ask them to sort them by pattern and by size. Changing the rules helps them think flexibly and spark creativity. When you’re cooking, let them build an instrument using a plastic container with keys and spoons inside. Music activities with toddlers helps them learn. Create a rhythm and ask them to copy. Ask them to create a beat and dance to their tunes!

Discover – Let your child taste a few grains of salt and sugar. Which one do they like? Talk to them about the difference. They are learning to explore their senses at this stage. So let them experiment!

By the age of 5, your child’s brain will have grown to 90 percent of its adult size. Keep up with their development by incorporating age appropriate activities that are not only fun, but also educational.

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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.