How much time a parent should spend with their child is age specific. But it is important to remember that the early years of a child’s life are years or rapid development and change. And, it’s because of this that it is important to understand how children learn and key developmental landmarks to provide the right stimulants to directly effect their brain growth.
The aim, and the most important thing a parent can do for their child is being engaged in stimulating intentional play. Even if for an hour, throwing and catching a ball, building puzzles, playing games, etc. and talking, you will see huge growth and progress.
The key areas of development of your child are: physical-motor, social/emotional, language, play and cognitive so ensure you do activities to stimulate these key developmental areas. Here are some suggested activities:
0 – 12 months
When feeding look your child in the eyes and talk to them
Massage your child's feet to improve circulation and aid walking and balance when they are older
Hold and move an object 30cm from your child’s face to strengthen their eyes which will help with their reading
Talking to your child throughout the day, telling them their name, pointing to body parts exposes children to language
Introduce your child to music and teach them to clap their hands
Read simple books to teach new words and new objects
1 – 2 years
Play clapping games and dance to music. Use this as an opportunity for them to also interact with children and adults
Read books and introduce new words and objects
Go outdoors, talk about nature and encourage them to touch and count what they see. Even play in the sand and mud
Build with blocks: this helps with math as they get older
This is a great age to teach children their body parts
2 – 3 years
Play outdoors in the sand and grass and expose children to nature
A child should be able to identify and name body parts
Encourage your child to draw and thread beads. By using their hands their fingers will strengthen
Allow your child to mimic you, be it sweeping, talking on the phone or doing the dishes
Make musical instruments from household items
Play catch with a big ball
3 – 4 years
Thread beads in sequence
Play hopscotch - this is great for balance
Your child should be able to dress themselves at this point, so also teach your child about hygiene, they should be able to wash, brush their hair and teach and understand healthy eating
Kick a ball to one-another – this is great for physical strength
Throw and catch different sized balls, and introduce targets to throw a ball into
Make and dance to music. Clapping games are also important.
4 – 6 years
Sort objects with your child, count with them and identify numbers
Play with colour and use pictures in your play. This helps with their eyes’ development
Give your child responsibilities appropriate to their age
Read to your child and get them to re-tell you the story
Play guess the object from a description you give
Get out of the house and encourage your child to speak with other children and adults. Going out for breakfast or lunch is a great way to do this
Many working mothers are time poor, so if you can’t spend more than an hour with your child stimulating them, make the time, quality time. I think working mothers will always have the pang to be at home with their child, but it is quality not quantity. And, of course enjoy your time together.
That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.