Research has shown that the first few years of a child’s life provide the foundation for future learning. The advance of new brain imaging technologies has allowed us to ‘see’ how our brains work and to better understand that thinking and learning process. Because of this, there is a heightened awareness of the importance of the first years of learning.

Children have a natural curiosity and interest in the world around them. They are eager learners and are developing their thinking skills and sense of logic. They learn by doing, enjoy repetition and are delighted by surprises, which they enjoy returning to over and over again. When you observe children playing, you can see they are busy thinking, figuring things out, solving problems and being creative and spontaneous in their solutions. And when you provide enriching experiences that stimulate their senses and spark their curiosity, you help promote an interest in learning that lasts a lifetime.

So take advantage of this amazing time in your child’s life. Arrange lots of fun and interesting activities to do together. Even simple things like mailing a letter or buying something at the grocery store—while they may seem mundane to you—are interesting to your child, especially if you talk about what you are doing and involve your child in the activity. Everyday activities and daily routines can be exciting and educational, especially when children are encouraged to identify the familiar and look for the unexpected. Making everyday experiences more playful will not only make parenting more enjoyable for you, but will make learning more fun for your child.

By Kathleen Alfano
Ph.D. Former director of child research at fisher price

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