Happy New Year First 5 San Diego Family!
As we begin a new year and find time to relax after the busy holiday season, it is important to reflect on what is most important for yourself and your family. In 2019, I would like to encourage you to schedule focused time to reconnect with your little ones, especially after the last few months of the busy holiday season. It is valuable to reconnect, schedule time and make that commitment to disconnect from other distractions that support quality one on one time throughout the year. This may seem like a lot but don’t worry, First 5 San Diego will have some exciting new products launched in 2019 to support you.
When setting goals, it is important to set realistic ones that hold both meaning and purpose. It is always better to set an objective and re-adjust it when you surpass your own expectations. Setting unrealistic goals can often discourage you early in the year and we want to avoid that if possible.
For 2019, I encourage all families to focus on reducing screen and phone time while increasing scheduled time to talk, read and play with your little ones. When setting targets, it is important to understand why they are important. Let’s look at each in more detail.
Reduce Screen Time and Phone Time Goals
Screen and phone time can negatively affect your young children and create deficiencies that may continue into adulthood. Excess screen time can cause your child to become less engaged with their real-time environment. This in turn can decrease sensory stimulation. It is also important to remember that infants and toddlers naturally learn from their surroundings and hands on experiences and interactions with others. The natural environment around them creates new stimulations while screen time promotes sensory deprivation and a disconnectedness from others.
Additionally, too much screen time can weaken your child’s communication and social skills. In the first five years, it is crucial to remember that talking is a brain building activity. Each time you talk with your child and have a high-quality interaction, new connections are made in their brain. Increased screen time takes away a child’s opportunity to build communication and social skills.
Lastly, research shows that longer exposure to rapid image-changes (as seen in screen time) increase the risk of attention problems for your child. In the past, cartoons and shows used to have 10 second image changes. This was less stimulating for a young child. Nowadays, because of time constraints, cartoons and shows change images 8-10 times per second. These rapid image-changes can create unrealistic expectations for a child’s mind. In turn, children may find ordinary life dull, slow or boring creating attention deficiencies in the classroom and at home.
Talk, Read and Play Goals
Talking with your child is imperative because the more you engage your child through talking and conversation, the more they will learn. Don’t forget to listen and respond to your child. Responses should include words, sentences and facial expressions. As children grow from infants, toddlers and beyond, it is important to understand their facial and body language. Encourage your little one to express their feelings and ideas. Don’t just listen to your child, also respond to them. Remember, it is important to emphasize the correct pronunciation of words and phrases so that they can continue to build their vocabulary.
In addition to talking, reading to children is equally as important. The most imperative language stimulation you can provide babies and toddlers is reading to them. It is never too early to read to your child. In addition to books, pointing out words and reading them out loud with your little ones is just as engaging. Words are everywhere! Take the time to point out street signs, store signs, words on packaging and in magazines.
Talking and reading are great and so is playing. During playtime, children gain the attention they seek. Children of all ages enjoy playing games. Below are some great ideas to help increase playtime with your child.
- Play outdoors. Throw balls. Push kids on swings. Make mud pies. Go on a hike around the neighborhood. Take a nature discovery walk in your backyard.
- Play games: card games, board games or silly games. This can help your child learn to take turns, how to win and how to lose. Always remember to praise and encourage your child.
- Get involved in a craft project together. Build a jigsaw puzzle as a family. Bake cookies. Paint a picture. These activities can help your child learn how to follow directions and practice different motor skills as well.
- Listen to music together. Sing along. Play rhythm instruments along with music. Clapping hands and dancing is a great way to teach your child how to follow a musical beat.
With the tips provided, I hope you and your family will sit down and create your own family goals and new meaningful memories during 2019. Remember, these goals are going to help you reconnect with your little one after the holiday season and encourage continuous brain development.