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Eight Tips for Helping Your Child’s Early Development

Parents often wonder what they can do at home to support their child’s development. The short answer: play with them. But what does that play look like? Here are eight easy tips for play activities parents and caregivers can do with young children.

  1. Share games, such as large lotto and picture dominoes, that are based on matching colors, animals, facial expressions, and everyday objects.
  2. Offer manipulative materials to foster problem solving and eye-hand coordination: large beads for stringing, brightly colored cubes, puzzle boxes, large, plastic interlocking bricks, Legos.
  3. Provide toy replicas of farm and zoo animals, families, cars, trucks, and planes for sorting and imaginative play.
  4. Read to your child regularly. Provide colorful picture books for naming objects and describing everyday events. Use simple illustrated storybooks (one line per page) so your child can learn to tell the story.
  5. Share nursery rhymes, simple finger plays, and action songs. Respond to, imitate, and make up simple games based on the child’s spontaneous rhyming or chanting.
  6. Set out (and keep a close eye on) washable paints, markers, chalk, large crayons, and large paper for artistic expression.
  7. Help with make believe activities, for example, save empty cereal boxes, discarded cans with intact labels for playing store.
  8. Provide wagons; large trucks and cars that can be loaded, pushed, or sat on; doll carriage or stroller; a rocking boat; bean bags and rings for tossing.