How Parents Can Help Early Childhood Development

During the early childhood years, your child develops cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally. She learns about the world while building language skills that help her communicate and read. Whether your child goes to day care, preschool or stays home, you are her most influential first teacher who can build a solid foundation in her development.

Understand Development

Knowing what to expect from your young child helps you support that growth and identify any potential problems. By the preschool years, your child probably already walks, talks, runs and jumps. She'll gain more independence in the preschool years as she begins to notice more about the world around her. She'll start making friends with her peers. Preschoolers also begin taking on more self-care tasks, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. Support that development by allowing her to try things on her own before you help. She'll also gain better control over fine motor skills and coordination. Give her chances to practice those skills with activities such as cutting with scissors or riding a tricycle.

Meet Needs

A loving, safe environment gives a young child the stability she needs for development. A childproofed home allows your preschooler to play and explore with a lower risk of getting injured 2. Beyond a safe physical environment, your child needs a regular sleep schedule, healthy diet and exercise to keep her healthy and developing properly. Preschoolers need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each day, according to KidsHealth 2. When she's not sleeping, encourage exercise through active play, games or physical activities, such as swimming and hiking. A balanced diet helps fuel all that physical activity.

Provide Experiences

Interacting with your preschooler through everyday activities helps her build an understanding of how the world works. Skip lots of time in front of the TV in favor of exploring around the house or neighborhood. Use a trip to the store as a way to teach about money or where food comes from. Join a playgroup so your child meets others her age to develop her social skills. Read with your young child and encourage her to come up with her own stories. All of these experiences build connections for your preschooler.

Be Proactive

The everyday experiences you have with your preschooler help her develop, but taking a purposeful role in her development and education is also important 2. If she goes to preschool or day care, get involved by volunteering and talking with her teachers about her development. Her teacher can provide insight if you feel your child is delayed in any part of her development. Your family health care provider is another key resource in identifying potential delays. Diagnosing development problems early allows for professional intervention services, such as physical or speech therapy, to overcome the delay.