American life in the 21st Century requires two incomes to survive. Because of this, many women are having to go back to work not long after they give birth to a child. For this reason, we are having to find quality childcare for our precious little ones.
The majority of us tend to seek out the services of a child care facility. This puts our kids into classrooms with other children, giving them exposure to many aspects of life and experiences with social interaction. It also exposes them to diseases, but that is a good thing; it helps them build up an immunity to illnesses. In a child care facility, the employees don’t just watch over our children, they also teach them. It is through them that they receive this exposure to colors and sounds.
However, not everyone uses a child care facility. They opt to hire a nanny to care for their children during working hours. This can be cheaper in most cases because the cost of childcare is high — even more so for infants! But how do we know if our children are receiving the same quality of education from the person we are paying to watch our children in-home?
To help your nanny in this capacity, you can suggest performing some of the following activities to them; to get them interacting with your infant or toddler more and help them learn what they need to know before they enter school.
For the first year, children are sponges. They absorb so much information in that time that it can really start defining who they are. Newborns especially need to have that exposure to the world around them. They may be extremely limited in how they can communicate, but starting them off early with learning is essential.
From inside the house, newborns need to experience the basics. They can’t spend all day in the crib. Yes, they sleep a lot, but when they’re not sleeping or eating, they should be on the floor with the nanny. They can help your newborn feel the carpeting or blanket they are lying on, or other textures around the house (that’s why those activity balls are so popular for this age).
Nannies can spend time reading books to them. The words are not what matter in this activity so much as the sound of the nanny’s voice is. While your newborn’s brain is still forming and soaking in information, the tones we use and the sounds we emit help with that. If you are able to find a nanny who speaks a second language, have them read in both. Children are able to learn multiple languages faster than adults, plus the do better in school and have a leg-up in life later on.
Just because they are newly-born does not mean they should stay indoors all of the time. Your child has to get out of the house and experience the world around them. They need to feel the warmth of the sun, the breeze against the wind, the sounds of the city.
Depending on how you feel about your nanny taking the child around town, they could take your newborn on a stroll through a city park or shopping center. This can expose them to so much we adults don’t even notice anymore. If you are not comfortable with the nanny driving with your child, then they can go on a walk of the neighborhood. Either way, have your nanny get your child out of the house since you are unable to.
Around 6 months of age, your child becomes a toddler. As such, they will need additional exposure to the world; the next step in their learning process. With this stage in your child’s development, the activities above enhance to introduce new concepts. This is the stage where they begin to color with crayons (scribble is more like it). Your nanny should be sitting down with them, not just to supervise in case of harm or coloring on furniture, but also to name the colors of each crayon.
As the nanny continues their walks, they should be pointing out objects to compare them to. Collect samples such as leaves or wrappers and bring them back home to compare side-by-side with the crayons to help identify the colors.
Also allowing them to play with playdoh and paint can help with color identification. Another lesson learned from these activities is texture. They can feel how wet and slimy paint is while the playdoh is smooth and squishy.
The words from reading those books begin to have meaning as your child is beginning to understand them and their connection to things and concepts. Have your nanny point out and name the objects in those books. Continue with the second language; they will begin to understand both, even though it’s harder for us adults to accept this concept.
This is the time when a child starts expressing their personality. This is truly a fun time. It is when the activity choices can expand and become more engaging. Gather the items your child would need to build a rubber band guitar or a makeshift drum. They and the nanny can build the instruments together then play music on them. Instill a love for music early on so that the creativity and happiness it brings can continue for years to come.
Unfortunately, because of your work schedule, you cannot be home to help your child learn. That is why you have to rely on your nanny to keep things fresh and exciting. Something they can do would be to plant flowers. Your toddler will learn about how things grow and what they need to survive. They could also construct their own kites to fly outside. With the help of your nanny, they can learn engineering concepts simply from trial-and-error from making a kite that will fly.
If you allow the nanny to cook or bake, teaching them about measurements and food can help your child become aware of healthy eating habits, which will stick with them throughout their lives.