Many people think children only begin to learn when they start school. This is NOT the truth! Babies are already learning in the womb and by the time they are born, they can already recognise mum’s voice! In fact the earliest years – the First 1000 Days – from the moment of conception to age 2, are the period of fastest brain growth and development in a person’s life. Scientific research estimates that 80% of brain growth and development takes place by age 3.

This means that parents and caregivers are the young child’s first and most important teachers! So what do they need to do? It’s all about the ordinary magic of spending quality time with your little one doing all the things you can do so well – loving, cuddling, talking, singing, telling stories and playing. Young children learn from ALL their experiences good and bad. They learn best when they feel safe, secure and loved.

And they learn through all their senses – seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and through movement. Mums’, dads’ and families’ voices are an amazing toy and learning resource. Although baby can’t talk or make sense of what is being said in those first weeks and months, baby listens to and absorbs every word that is spoken or sung to him. And soon some of those words will start to make sense to him. Your adult talk will become the start of her own language, as her little brain is primed to learn language and learn it fast! In fact if parents speak different home languages to baby, she will learn both AND know which person speaks which language!

It is mum, dad and the people who care for your little one that help him make sense of his world and understand what is happening around him. The richness and diversity of her language is the foundation of her learning. And the more he learns, the faster he will learn more and you will see his confidence and self-belief grow! As she starts to move, make sure her environment is safe and let her explore. Provide him with safe things to hold, rattle, shake, drop, throw and bang. All these things are important learning for a baby.

And the good news is – all your LOVE, PLAY, TALK can take place in your normal daily routine of feeding, bathing, talking and playing. Include your little one in what you are doing and talk about it. And even better news is that you don’t need to spend money and buy expensive toys. There are many things in our environment or household items that can become toys for a little one. For example: a pot & spoon become a wonderful drum; an orange or squash rolls like a ball; plastic kitchen containers can be filled, emptied or fit one inside another; a large cardboard box becomes a car, a cot or a stove; a small plastic bottle filled with rice or pebbles becomes a rattle. Use your imagination and have fun! Just make sure that wherever baby or toddler is and whatever she is playing with is safe – nothing sharp, pointed, poisonous or small enough to swallow or choke on. Your little one’s safety is very important as young children have no sense of danger.

So the power lies in your hands to give your little one the best start in life. And it lies in the ordinary everyday magic of spending quality time with your little one in LOVE, PLAY, TALK!

Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana, RCL FOODS and the Do More Foundation. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life.

The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!

Get more information from the following websites:

Do listen every week and give your little one the best start in life!


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