You might have heard that the youngest brains are the most sponge-like and impressionable. But did you know that the average baby cranium lights up well before birth? Medical experts have found that peak infant brain activity usually begins during month 5 of gestation, and lasts until they’re 5 years old! This gives parents plenty of time to introduce their babies to everything from reading to talking to practicing proper country club etiquette. And while it’s never “too early” to begin educating Baby, you can increase the odds of a more productive and pleasant teacher-pupil relationship by remembering a few essential truths.
Babies are the best students
Since Baby‘s brain is already in active “LEARN EVERYTHING” mode, half of your job is already done. You won’t have to worry about commanding your student’s attention with puppet shows, Sigmund Freud impressions, or other methods your high school history teacher might have tried.
Baby should call the shots
Learning enthusiasm aside, be careful not to force any lessons or activities upon Baby. Attempting a teaching moment when Baby seems hungry, tired, or distracted could sap the fun from the lesson and lead to some tears of frustration.
Step by step
It’s tempting to bump your star pupil to the top of the class, but, like anyone, Baby needs to learn to walk before he can run, both physically and metaphorically. Maybe one of the proudest moments of your childhood was that moment where you could sing the state capitals, but if Baby can’t say his own name yet, you might have to wait a few years to share that particular joy. Instead, enjoy Baby‘s baby-steps.
Players learn the most
When a lot of us hear the word “lesson,” we tend to hear “work” – as in, the opposite of “recess” or “lunch.” Baby lessons should never feel like hard labor. The best approach to baby education is to involve play elements whenever possible. If you can teach Baby the alphabet by letting him pick up various household objects, go for it! Would Baby’s stuffed ape be an ideal tool for demonstrate object permanence? Get that gorilla! Who knows? The two of you might find yourselves laughing in harmony.
Don’t force it
Learning can be a great way for some new families to get a head-start growing and bonding together, but waiting a few years to start trying to share your wisdom with Baby isn’t going to hurt his intellectual development. Teaching him the ABCs years before kindergarten is less important at this point than spending lots of time snuggling Baby, laughing with him, and building a strong bond together. If you start to feel like learning is getting in the way of time you and Baby could be spending enjoying each other, maybe it’s time to set the lessons aside for a little while in favor of just having some fun. And remember, everything is a learning experience for Baby. Even if you’re just spending time with Baby, enjoying his company, he is guaranteed to learn from that, too.