Stimulating Baby

by Faye
(South Africa)

I have a baby boy aged 13 months. He says basic words like mama, papa and his name. I was wondering if you had any material that would help develop his vocabulary better.

Or any advice you can give. Like any child he plays a lot of games so cue cards would be beneficial.

I look forward to your assistance and thank you for your efforts in providing quality education at home.

Shirley's Answer to Stimulating Baby

With a child of 13 months, I would not recommend any kind of formal learning activities, instead just lots of healthy interacting with you, his mother and also with his father whenever he is available.

Natural family interaction and communication is the best way for a child to learn.

You really can RELAX. At 13 months your child should still be free to play and do whatever she wants, without the stress of formal learning activities. Consider these quotes by educational experts:

“A mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.” (Charlotte Mason)

“The idea that parents should hurry reading, spelling, writing, or math ahead of children’s normal development is not supported by a single replicable research study in the world or by any clinical experience in history. All history, research and common sense points in the opposite direction! We repeat: Any who push the three R’s early deny the readiness the Creator built in – reasonably mature vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, reason, brain growth, coordination – as clearly documented in our books Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait.”
(Raymond and Dorothy Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook)

I suggest you read the article I wrote called "Don't start too early" on the Worksheets page. You will find a lot there that will be useful in the coming years.

I know the pressure that we moms all feel to give our children a head start and to be able to prove that we are able to teach them and that they are learning, but having 6 kiddies of my own, I have now learned that they all learn, each in their own time, and there is no need to put pressure on them. But I also used to suffer from what I now affectionately call 'first child syndrome' until I read about the damage that starting too soon can do.

I have learned that as long as you create a warm, loving environment, they learn everything they need to naturally, in their own time, without much effort from the parents!

At this age, I really don't believe that a child needs formal learning. Perhaps a regular routine yes, like meals and a nap at regular times, storytime etc...but not a structured programme.

I would rather encourage you just to spend as much time with your child as possible to meet his emotional needs, which are more important for healthy development than 'academic' type of activities.

As you talk to him and interact with him, you will be providing all the input he needs to be able to produce language when HE IS READY to do so.

I don't believe in trying to produce super babies - I think it is unnatural to stimulate children before they are emotionally and developmentally ready for formal learning activities.

As you go about your day, just talk to your child, about whatever is relevant or sing to him too. Classical music is also good for brain development in young kiddies, but I also expose my kids to other good quality music that I enjoy - various genres from pop to worship music to gentle opera! Whatever you enjoy!

Make sure he gets lots of outdoor activity, walking, running, playing ball, visiting play parks etc. to develop gross motor skills...and of course read him lots of stories as he grows.

I have reviewed a whole lot of worthwhile ones in my preschool manual, ABC Fun & 1-2-3, but also see the articles about Reading on my preschool website for age-appropriate suggestions. You could just begin at the library for now!
He'll appreciate ABC Fun more when he is older (aged 3-6)

I know moms of 2 year olds that spend hours teaching their children nursery rhymes, colours, shapes, counting etc ...but it is more to boost their own egos than for the benefit of their child.

Kids of that age don't need to know that stuff yet in my opinion.

Rather let them play and learn by exploring their world in their own time - they only get to be kids once...and once they start formal learning at school age, they can never get the freedom of those early years back again!

Children are naturally curious about the world around them. We need to trust in their ability to learn everything they need to in their own time...and not fall into the trap of comparing. Each child develops at his own rate and each has his own strengths.

Hope this will help you...and maybe others will also answer you and encourage you that you are doing fine.

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