Babies have a lot to learn. And as they grow, it seems like the list of "need to knows" grows with them. Frankly, sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by the responsibility. From the ABCs and counting to labeling body parts or wiping their own bottoms, the items range from "good to know" to "have to know before they go to school."
Miraculously, with attention and good habits, most of this stuff just ... happens. Now I'm not saying moms and dads don't put an incredible amount of work into this, but we don't have to build mini classrooms for our kids. We just need to adopt a teaching role and help them become good learners. After all, they're born with a natural curiosity.
Statistics show habits such as reading to your child help better prepare them for a lifetime of learning. In addition, we have countless teachable moments every day. For instance, my 4 year old helps cook sometimes, learning about how to follow directions. My toddler learns fine motor skills when we color together. And even picking up can be a teaching experience. Not only does it create a sense of self-discipline and responsibility, you can discuss letters, numbers, and colors as you do it. For example, "Can you hand be the red block next to the coffee table? And now can you pick up the book with the B on it?"
I've often said I'm not worried about whether my children are first—or last—to read, walk, or even become potty trained. I think children will help guide you down the right learning path for them as long as you're aware and prepared to teach. So keep watching for those teachable moments. You never know which ones will become the memories they remember for a lifetime.