Parents have an incredible opportunity to provide an early educational foundation during the first year of a baby’s life.
You can easily create an environment for newborns that fosters learning. It is as simple as doing things like playing music, reading books, telling stories, and providing varied stimulation with toys such as mobiles, rattles, and soothers.
When infants grow to be about six months old, they can even begin to learn about science, math, and the creative arts. Here’s how you can introduce each subject area.
Introducing Math, Science, and the Arts to Your Infant
One of the best ways to develop beginning understandings in math is to simply have conversations. Make note of geometric shapes when you walk around your neighborhood with Baby in the stroller. Point out the rectangular road signs, the circular windows, or any other shape you see.
When your little one is able to grasp toys, create or purchase an inexpensive set of colorful objects including circles, squares, triangles, hexagons, and ovals. Begin by stating the name of each shape and then move them around and create fun patterns.
It is also helpful to introduce numbers by counting with your infants. Count their fingers, ears, and toes as you wiggle them.
Introduce math by reading books with limited text that focus on numbers or shapes. Here are a few that we found to be helpful:
- One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boynton
- Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
- Baby Touch and Feel Colors and Shapes by DK Publishing
Children begin to engage with their environment and develop basic understandings of scientific phenomena during infancy. As they observe and experiment, they begin to learn about cause and effect.
They discover that a toy will make a sound when they squeeze it and an object will drop to the ground when they let go of it. They are eager to explore the world around them and make sense of what they see.
They also begin to use all five senses to make observations. There is an excellent children’s book called, That’s not my Lamb, where Baby can touch a woolly tail, a fuzzy back, and soft ears. These types of multisensory resources are helpful in science!
There are many other books about science and simple exposure will introduce vocabulary and knowledge. Some of our favorites include:
- Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
- Animal Alphabet by Alex Lluch
- Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino
Here are other ways you can introduce science to your little one.
- While walking with Baby in the stroller, talk about the trees, critters, and anything else you see in nature.
- Visit a farm, fish hatchery, or wildlife sanctuary and talk about animals.
- Talk about all of Baby’s major body parts.
- Observe science in pictures—talk to your little one about what you see.
At birth, introduce the arts by playing music and singing lullabies to your baby. Authors Rebecca Shore and Janis Strasser wrote about how infants benefit from listening to music. Imaging technologies indicate that their brains “light up like a Christmas tree” while engaging in musical activities.
Movement and rhythmic exercises will also stimulate their brains. Therefore, you will foster growth when you:
- Rock and sway to the beat of a tune while holding Baby.
- Move arms and legs to the tempo and beat of music.
- Tell stories with music.
- Use a sing-song voice when speaking.
As you do these things, not only will you promote attachment, but your infant will begin to recognize tone, rhythmic patterns, and tempo.
During the important first year of life, strive to create an environment where your infant can begin to learn about math, science, and the arts. You will support early brain growth and give Baby a bright beginning.
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