Early Learning Success Begins At Home

Start off Big with LEGO® DUPLO®

Wondering if the games you play at home with your toddler are just silly ways to pass the time? Well, think again. We investigate how certain games and toys can prepare your little one for the big wide world.

Helping your child develop skills such as resilience, strength of character and confidence at a very young age may feel unnecessary. You may fear that it’s too much too soon. But the opposite is true. The younger you can empower your child with these skills, the better prepared they are for preschool and life.

“The overarching thing that we try to do in preschool is allow children to be themselves,” says Su Garrett, Director at Explore & Develop. “It’s important that they have a good sense of their identity and confidence in themselves as a person.”

A collaborative approach

Preschools encourage children to work collaboratively on projects, and school is the same. Participating in a group means having the confidence to put your ideas forward.

“Our society is so social that children need to be able to work in a group and express their ideas, but also be able to listen to someone else’s opinion and understand why things don’t always go to plan,” says Garrett.

Children need help to develop the confidence to be creative because in a modern world, we’re not cut and paste and we’re not rote learning things at school these days.”

Nurturing at home

Knowing how to help your little one to develop these skills can be hard. But it starts with little steps.

“Start by letting them make small decisions,” says Garrett. “Give them the choice of two or three outfits to pick from in the morning to wear and let them make decisions during the day. As they build up to making bigger decisions, they’ll have more confidence.

Put together some visuals of the jobs they need to get done, such as getting dressed and brushing teeth and then let them tick them off as they go, so they have more power over what they’re doing.”

Garrett adds that valuable lessons also come from children making the wrong decision. “We can’t save them all the time and nor should we. By allowing our children to fail in a safe way we’re allowing them to take risks, and this is where confidence comes in.”

“We often tend to say ‘be careful’ or ‘don’t do that’ if a child is trying a new skill. A better phrasing would be, ‘you haven’t quite got that yet but let’s have another go’.”

Child’s play

Playing with your little one is one of the most important ways to help them develop their skills. Choosing the right games and toys makes this easy.

The best toys to help little ones develop these skills are those which encourage imagination and those that offer open-ended games. These include toys such as cars, farmyard setups, dollhouses, stuffed teddies, train tracks, and LEGO DUPLO.

“It’s great for children to be able to combine things, so if they’re playing with LEGO, they can bring their cars into it to make a city or create buildings for their farm animals. It’s about allowing them to create their own little worlds,” says Garrett.

“Playing with DUPLO with your child is great because it provides you with the chance to talk to them about what they’re building and to use language around trying to solve problems.” Garrett uses examples such as, ‘do you need that piece, I’d really like to put that in my building’, ‘what do you think I could use here?’, ‘how could we build this tower together?’ and ‘what do you think will fit here?’.

“Allowing things to break or fall and then starting again offers some really important problem solving and is good for talking about the importance of trying again if something fails.”

Garrett notes that turn-taking games are good, as are any matching games. And any game where there’s a risk of losing is good (as hard as that is) because it helps build their resilience.

Aside from traditional games, Garrett notes that cooking with young children can also be a really good way of developing their skills. “Cooking is about following instructions and the science and early maths components of that are great, but sometimes cooking fails and things don’t work and that’s ok. Life doesn’t have to be all perfect.”

As a parent, it’s hard to see your child suffer or fail and it can be tempting to swoop in to save them. But by nurturing and helping them to develop confidence, resilience, and strength of character you’re setting them up for success for preschool and beyond.

The smaller we are, the bigger our potential to learn, grow and build a tomorrow that’s BIG. And with a BIG start in play, there’s no limit to what our little ones can do. LEGO DUPLO. Start Off Big.

Written for LEGO DUPLO by Kidspot Australia and reproduced with permission

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