July/August 2012

BABYBUG is for babies who love to be read to and for the adults who love to read to them. Here are a few suggestions to make your read-aloud time even more enjoyable for you and your baby.

by Sally Nurss, M.Ed.

(And don't forget to check out the Babybug blog for interviews with artists, book recommendations, parenting tips, reader questions, and more!)

Again and Again: Young Children Thrive on Repetition

Very often parents are told to expose their children to as many different experiences as possible in order to broaden their knowledge and stimulate their ability to learn. What is sometimes lost in following this advice, however, is the opportunity to repeat valuable experiences. 

Whether “Moving and Grooving” to a tune, digging a hole in the sand like the toddler in “Beach Day,” or chanting “Whaly,/Scaly,/Shaly,/Whaly” over and over, young children thrive on repetition. They are starting to sort out which aspects of the world are predictable: What can be counted on to remain the same? What will change? Will Kim’s mother bring cookies every time you read the story in this issue or will she suddenly bring a basket of apples? From a child’s point of view, there’s only one way to find out: ask to hear the story again and again. 

 

Repeating an experience gives children a chance to confirm that what they learned earlier still holds true, strengthening connections in the brain. Once they’ve established that something is predictable, they can build on that experience. Children who are allowed to repeat experiences gain confidence and a sense of being in control in a big and unfamiliar world. They have a strong foundation upon which future learning can be built. 

When an experience is familiar, a child can apply new knowledge to it and use it to try out new skills. Repetition makes it possible for children to experiment and understand, clear up misconceptions, and recreate that which was previously satisfying. Your child may want you to build a block tower with her, blow soap bubbles, sing a song, or read a BABYBUG selection over and over again. It’s worth doing so. Again and again.

Playing Together

 

Here are some play experiences your toddler will love to repeat this summer:

  • Sing together. Sometimes made-up songs are the nicest ones, especially when you include your child’s name in them.
  • Tape big sheets of paper to the kitchen table or the floor. Give your toddler crayons and turn on some music so he can scribble to a beat.
  • Give your child a small bucket of water and a real paintbrush. She can paint sidewalks, steps, or even houses with it.
  • Spend some time rolling or kicking a large ball back and forth.
  • Make one day a week “library day.” Turn it into a special outing by packing a lunch and stopping in a park on the way home. Find a shade tree, settle down together, and enjoy your books.
  • Bring some toys outside for your child to wash with a soapy sponge and rinse with a watering can.
  • Peel some bananas and wrap them in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Put them in the freezer. Frozen bananas taste great on a hot summer day!
  • The next time it rains, pull on some boots and enjoy the puddles with your child.
  • On a windy day, help your child see what’s being moved by the wind. You might ask: Is the grass rippling? Are clouds drifting? Will breezes carry soap bubbles away? How about dandelion seeds?
  • Make a cool, green, leaf hat to keep the sun off your child’s face. Begin by cutting the center out of a paper plate, then help your child tape large green leaves around the edge.