As children age and develop, they go through many different stages requiring different kinds of stimulation and learning. When we think of preschoolers and children in kindergarten, the phrase ‘fun learning’ is easy to describe: we think of arts and crafts, basic science experiments, and a fair amount of input from the child. Learning is just as important for infants, and in some cases, it’s even more important than later learning, so how can infant daycare make early education fun and age-appropriate?
Defining What Infants Learn
A child’s first year is filled with major milestones such as lifting their head, rolling over, and crawling towards you. They’re also using this time to learn about their surroundings and the animate and inanimate objects around them. They’ll smile at you and at others, showing the beginnings of social interaction, and they’ll reach and grip onto colorful toys that interest them. By simply interacting with your child, they’re learning more than you could possibly believe, including early language skills, and they’re putting those fine motor skills into practice.
The key to learning at this age lies in enjoyment and creativity. It’s easy for an infant to get tired quickly and to hop from one activity to another. Good stimulation that’s suitable for your child’s age is going to help keep them interested and keep them learning. This is also an impressionable time for their self-expression. Before they’ve gotten comfortable with word production and sentences, they’re going to be expressing themselves through sounds. Older infants even learn the art of turn-taking in conversation, so you should start to notice that they respond when you speak to them, even if they’re not forming words just yet.
How Infant Daycare Promotes Learning
One of the greatest benefits of daycare is social interaction. As a newborn, your child spends a lot of time with you and some other close family members, but not always with infants their own age. Social interaction is a wonderful teacher, promoting problem-solving skills and letting your child observe and accept social norms and behaviors.
At daycare, your child will participate in activities like sensory play, which teach your infant about the world around them and keep them entertained at the same time. Interesting sounds and textures add varied stimulation to an infant’s day, improving their fine motor skills and their cognitive development. More importantly, infants do a great amount of learning in this way while still having fun.
Keeping Them Interested At Home
Infants can get bored with one activity very quickly. Unlike older children, they need their learning to be assisted by a teacher or a parent. This is a perfect opportunity to take an active part in your child’s learning and reinforce what they are doing in daycare. Here are some of our favorite fun, (and secretly educational) activities you can do with your infant.
Playing with Bubbles
This is an interesting activity that takes very little set up. When bathing your child, encourage them to play with the bubbles in the water. Toss some into the air and let your child reach for them – they’ll fall slow enough that your child will be able to take in what they’re seeing.
Learning Body Parts
Older infants understand more words than they can say. Even when that first word may still be elusive, they are beginning to build a mental vocabulary. Help get your child ready for language learning by introducing short songs or chants to help teach them body parts such as noses and hands.
As infants, children start to learn that their actions cause reactions. One way to let this learning milestone coincide with creativity is to let your child play with simple instruments, such as a xylophone they can hit or toy keyboard they can press. They’ll learn that they are the cause of the sound and that they can start mixing these actions and sounds however they please.
At Parkland Children’s Academy, we use a structured age-appropriate curriculum for our infant daycare. We also make sure that every child receives personal attention in the form of assisted learning, and encourage social interaction and routine building in our daily activities. Contact us for a tour of our facility, and see how much fun infant learning can be.