I was having a glass of wine with friends when we began discussing kids learning a foreign language. One of my relatives is an 11 year old who speaks 4 languages. Everyone was simply amazed. Wow - he must be gifted. Well, he might be; but knowing multiple languages at a young age is commonplace in other countries and he lives in Europe. It is assumed there that kids can learn multiple languages and they do. It is amazing to us in America because we don't routinely expect this level of learning from our children. We should. I'm not speaking specifically about kids learning multiple languages at a young age (although that is wonderful), but I am speaking about encouraged learning at a young age, particularly helping build your baby's brain during the first year. It is easy to do simple things and establish a learning lifestyle with them during their first year of life and continuing it throughout their life.
I was discussing the concept of a "learning lifestyle" with a friend and she laughed saying that kids wouldn't need that once they started school because they would be learning at school. Nothing could be further from the truth. As parents, we are the primary influence on our kids learning and development - or should be. Of course, kids learn a great deal at school, but that doesn't mean they can't also be learning more at home. Innovating your baby doesn't stop when they turn 2. It is a way of life that helps your kids throughout their lifetime.
Just as we need to be talking to our babies all the time using all kinds of words to help their brains develop; and as we need to be reading to our babies every day to give them learning that can impact their future academic success; we need to think about how we can continue this habit as the years go by. There is certainly a large body of helpful information for fun toddler learning activities starting with Pinterest and Facebook. You can find tons of wonderful information for things to do with your kids. That can sometimes take time to sift through. One of my goals for Innovate Your Baby and Innovate Your Toddler is to provide parents with a simple easy to remember set of daily principles to apply throughout the day as they interact with their kids (and to share with parents, grandparents and caregivers to apply as well). For babies, this is the Daily 10 which incorporates things like, read to your baby, talk to your baby in his language and yours, sing to your baby, take your baby outside. For toddlers this is the Daily 4 or PARC which includes doing something physical, artistic, reading and counting. Common sense? If it were, more parents would be doing it all the time. True innovation makes things simple.
If you have an infant, start reading to them every day and talking to them all the time. If you have a toddler, start taking advantage of every opportunity to count with them. Count down with them as the microwave timer counts down. Pick up the little rocks you see as you leave the office building and count them with your little one. Look at the planes in the sky and count them with your toddler as you say "Whoosh -there goes the plane - look at his jet trail." Babies' brains have an enormous capacity to learn. Establish a fun learning lifestyle with your little one today and expect him to learn big things. You won't be disappointed.