Being a parent of a young child can be very stressful. Many experts say that the first five years are the most important. Children have so much to learn in those first years. What can you do as a parent to help your child achieve all of those skills? Well, its probably easier than you think. There are two major ways to help your child. The first is by helping them role play. Young children learn by watching the people around them, especially their parents and older siblings whom they trust. This is why children role play, such as playing house, doctor, school, fire fighters, etc. As hard as this might be, invite your child to cook, clean, and do other chores around the house with you. They will be learning valuable skills and creating a good work ethic, as well as learning a lot about you and your role in the family. Also, explore places like fire stations, police stations, construction sites, schools (if they aren't already in school), doctors offices, etc. Talk about what the "workers" do there. This will help with role playing, especially if your child can't quite get the concept of pretend play (which is not all that uncommon) They learn so much from just playing.
The second way to help your child is by providing the toys that will help them learn. So, are there certain toys that are better than others to help teach my child the skills he/she needs? The answer is yes. Keep your child away from the TV and computer screen as much as possible. While these can be very valuable tools, it is so important for your young child to touch, see, smell, (even taste, if they are young enough) and fully explore their toys. Wooden building blocks are really great for this. They last long and build the imagination. They also help build motor skills, problem solving skills (Why does my tower keep falling down?), and hand-eye coordination. Mazes, puzzles, and sorting games are also really great for hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills. Bead and wire toys (or rollercoaster toys- the kind you find at the doctors office) are also really great toys to have around and you would be surprised how long your child will play with a toy like that- one that doesn't light up or have any kind of special effects. Which brings me to my next point about educational toys.