The Number One Educational Tool Your Child Needs

We are thrilled to partner with Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to share helpful information about early childhood development for children ages zero to three. A host of additional early childhood resources are available on the Children's Minnesota website.


The Number One Educational Tool Your Child Needs | Twin Cities Moms Blog

80% of your child’s brain develops in the first three years. It is a critical time that will largely affect their adulthood. Not just their intelligence but who they are as a person.

Source: Children’s Minnesota

Amazing, right?

And scary too?

Deep breath.

So yes, during the most stressful, new to motherhood, dry shampoo, cold meals, high coffee consumption time for you, your little one is soaking up the world at an unbelievable rate. And it is impacting their adulthood and who they are as people.

No pressure.

There is one learning tool that is fundamental to this brain development growth.

Yes, one very special education tool!

It’s not at your local toy store.

You can’t have it delivered in two days.

It can’t be downloaded to your phone or iPad.

It doesn’t cost any money.

Any guesses? Yes, it is you.

The number one educational tool your child needs is you.

Just remarkable, awesome and loving, You.

What are those baby brains soaking up and how can you do your best to help them?

Children’s Minnesota has put together an easy list for parents to be the best educational influence on their kids. I love that the list is simple and not overwhelming, the beauty is that you hold the ability to do all of these things and it makes a real difference. Here’s a sample of some of their suggestions by age group. For a full list of great activity ideas, check out Children’s Minnesota’s full list here.

Newborn Educational Tool Idea: Get to Know Your Baby

You’ve been waiting months to meet your sweet baby. How perfect because the first thing your baby needs to learn about is YOU! Baby is learning about you through their senses. Make eye contact, talk and sing to baby. I remember as a new mom it felt weird having conversations with a little baby who would only just look back at me. But it is easy, just narrate to baby everything you are doing. “Baby, mommy is making coffee because we were up all night long.” I quickly realized as a new mom I forgot all the “baby songs” so instead, I just made up my own or sang renditions of my favorite songs from the radio. And the last sense for baby is touch, so giving baby hugs, eye contact during feeding, massages, bath and interaction during a diaper change is a nurturing practice that shows baby love and interaction and this helps baby’s development.

The Number One Educational Tool Your Child Needs | Twin Cities Moms BlogPhoto Source: Sarah Hudson Photography

One to Three Months Old Educational Tool Idea: Create Your Own Special Language

At this age, baby is developing their own voice. While the words aren’t always coming out in the language you speak, baby is trying to communicate with you. So show baby you are receptive to their voice, give them opportunity to chatter with you. The best thing about baby talk is that there is no right way to do it! My son used to use his voice by making clicking noises so I would talk to him in a clicky language. My nephew loves making a wolf-like howling noise to communicate so my daughter and I make howling noises back and forth with him.

Four to Seven Months Educational Tool Ideas: Use Your Words

Baby talk has been fun but during this time you’ll make the switch to real words and teach baby to have a conversation. You can start by teaching baby the names of the people, places and things in their life. Children’s Minnesota shared this simple tip for interaction with baby, “Say: Do you want a toy? This is your toy,’ as you show it to him or her. Then wait for a response. Following your speech with moments of silence will encourage your baby to vocalize and teach that conversation involves taking turns.”

Eight to Twelve Months Educational Tool Ideas: Word Games

Now that you’ve been teaching baby names for people, places and things, ask baby questions about those names. Ask about body parts, food at the table, things in the bathtub and toys in their room.  One of our favorite games was reading books and asking our kids to find different things within the book, “Where’s the monkey? Where is the mama? Where is the baby?”

The Number One Educational Tool Your Child Needs | Twin Cities Moms BlogPhoto Source: Sarah Hudson Photography

One to Two-Year-Old Educational Tool Ideas: Gestures and Context

Your child will start rapidly picking up the names of the people, places and things in their life and it is also important to give help them with the context of the words by incorporating gestures about the words you use. Pointing to the pool and asking your child if they want to swim with you, singing gesture-filled songs like, “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” or at home giving a choice for snacks and showing the child each item.

Two to Three-Year-Old Educational Tool Ideas: Imaginative Play

According to Children’s Minnesota, your child likely has 200 or more words that they use at this age! And now your children are interested in engaging in imaginative play. So this is the perfect time for parents to use their silly voices, set up forts, play dress up and use all the new words and experiences your child has absorbed to engage in make-believe games.

Just Be You

You are the best educational tool to help your child develop. Fabulous and remarkable, you! Remember your kids just want to be with and learn from you. Children don’t care how silly baby talk sounds or what you look like in the dress up hat, your kids just care that you are with them. These simple interactions are influencing the adults your children will become and are the best educational tools in their life.

The Number One Educational Tool Your Child Needs | Twin Cities Moms Blog
Photo Source: Sarah Hudson Photography

For more interaction ideas, vocabulary activities and games you can play with your children, check out this full list from Children’s Minnesota.

We are thrilled to announce a summer partnership with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. We all know Children’s Minnesota to be an incredible leader in healthcare with hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul and clinics throughout the Twin Cities, but they also have a wealth of resources to help you guide your child into the potential they already hold within them. You ARE your child’s greatest tool in learning and over the next month, we’ll be sharing a number of experiences from our team alongside the incredible amount of resources offered by Children’s Minnesota. Find more information on the Children’s Minnesota website.

Alice is the creator of Dining with Alice where she shares creative comfort food recipes and conversations about motherhood. She is a television cook known for her easy and creative recipes and appears on Twin Cities Live and has also appeared on the Rachael Ray show. Alice is the author of Freezer Meals for Moms a book filled with freezer-friendly meals. Alice has also been recognized for her writing on body image, marriage and motherhood and has been featured on national parenting web pages including Scary Mommy. Alice works outside the home at a Twin Cities nonprofit organization as an education researcher and advocate at the state legislature. Alice’s favorite and most important role is mom and wife. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or sign up for her Email Newsletter for all of her recipes and posts about motherhood and Minnesota.



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