This post is in partnership with ParentEducate.com.
Child development is often synonymous with early education, but that’s not the whole picture. Yes, in our classrooms, we work on all areas of development, from social-emotional skills to pre-academics, but as educators, we know that we can only do our job well if we act as a team with parents. We each have a role in helping the children we care for develop and grow in all these areas. Parents often ask me what the most important things they can do for their children at home to support development. Here are my top 4 ways parents can support their child’s development at home.
I can’t stress this enough. One of the reasons good preschool classes are so peaceful is because they have good and predictable routines. This is not impossible to replicate at home, and no, you don’t need a visual schedule, but if you want one, I have some printables here.
What you do need is predictability; every day doesn’t have to be the same. You don’t need a strict timetable, just a routine that generally follows the same pattern. Breakfast at the table, playtime, lunch, a book before nap… you get my point. I know families can’t always have the same routine every day, but even having pockets of predictability will help your young child feel calm and in control. This will help them focus on learning and exploring instead of resisting change and feeling anxious. When you do have to change things up, offer plenty of forwarning and reminders.
Children need time with the people they love. They need to play with you. They need to bond and strengthen the relationship, so they trust you enough to ask for help, to go to you when they are hurt and when they need someone to work through big feelings with. This doesn’t come with force. It comes with time and relationships. When children feel safe and loved, they can turn their attention to learning because the most important needs have been met.
Whenever I see a student acting out, one of my first questions to a parent is, “How is their sleep lately?” children need sleep, a lot of it. Think of your child as a rechargeable battery and sleep as getting plugged back in. Children can’t be expected to self-regulate well when they have not had enough sleep. They just aren’t capable of doing that at a young age. If you want to support your child’s development, one of the most important things is to make sure they get enough sleep. Have a rock-solid bedtime routine that includes the same elements. At our house, it was brush teeth, PJs, three books, and lights out. We could do this routine anywhere. Even while traveling, I’d pack three books and PJs. More than once, my kids changed into PJs on airplanes and ferries. They also then fell asleep because it was their established routine. Good sleep also gives you time for the next thing…
When we learn new things from knitting to building a back deck, to a new language or any other skill, we take courses, watch videos, but somehow parenting is supposed to just be ingrained? That’s a bunch of baloney. Parenting takes skills, and those skills change as our children change. Trust me. My teen is forcing me to learn all new things because I don’t have multiple degrees in adolescent development as I do in early childhood.
If your goal is to support your child’s development, invest in learning more about it and parenting. You can buy lots of books, go to seminars… or you can check out ParentEducate.com. When the folks at ChildCare Education Institute told me they were working on offering parents the same high-quality courses that they create for teachers, I was thrilled. As a teacher, I have used their professional development courses for years and know that they are research-based and addresses topics that are important now, not five years ago.
I am excited that parents now have the same opportunities to learn more about all the topics we as early educators focus on and more parenting-specific topics like promoting mindfulness at home, basic nutrition, transportation safety, and positive guidance. These courses are short. You could do them in 20-30 minutes, which means you can sneak them into your busy day. The best features of ParentEducate.com are that it’s available whenever you are- 24/7 365 days a year and you can start a course on your laptop and switch to your phone or tablet without losing any progress. So if you are anything like I was when my children were small, using times like the 30-minute swim lesson and those magical minutes when all the kids were napping at the same time might just be your only time to learn, that’s ok with this platform!
ParentEducate.comis a fantastic way for you to stay up to learn all the things you need to support your child as they develop. The fact it’s so easy to use is just the icing on the cake!
Lucky for you, the folks atParentEducate.comare offering my readers 20% off a one-month subscription when they use the codeMN1Month now through July 31, 2021.
Taking time to learn more about how your children develop, why they do the things they do, and how we as parents can support their learning is such an important investment, and with tools likeParentEducate.com, anyone can do it!