Ask any parent what they want for their children, and they’ll tell you something similar to the following: “For my child(ren) to be successful and happy.” I feel this way about my children, my parents about me, and so on. The truth is, every parent envisions a bright and happy future for their children, but not every parent knows that we as Moms and Dads provide essential stepping-stones to these hopeful futures. First 5 California has been a solid partner in encouraging parents to be the very first teacher, playmate, and inspiration to children everywhere.

From birth to age 5 we as parents have the most important job in the world. I know this is said time and time again, but I’m going to reiterate the point because it is so incredibly true. The first five years of life are so important, in fact, that they play a key part in how the child learns and interacts throughout his or her lifetime. As a mother, it is so inspiring and jaw dropping to know that I am the key to unlocking the potential in my child—just like every parent reading this is to their own.

How do we, as parents, do everything we can? In reality it is one of the most basic and natural things: talk to your children, read to your children, interact with your children, play and sing with your children. Babies may not always understand what you say to them, but tone of voice and intonation patterns are picked up and recognized. Always talk to your children, no matter how young. One thing my husband and I have always done is spoken normally to our children…from day one. We would baby talk occasionally but the majority of the time we spoke to them like another adult. My eldest daughter is five years old and will be starting Kindergarten this fall; every doctor, nurse, and professional we visited during her pre-kindergarten wellness appointments noted how articulate and well spoken she was. It was a huge boost to my parental ego, and you can do this too. You can be the backbone to your child’s vocabulary and language skills, among many other great things.

We are a very “fun” household according to my five year old, she is one of the most amazing young talents I’ve seen in a long time. (Nobody forced me to say that!) We do almost everything together at home, but it has inspired me how close to home “Talk. Read. Sing.” is to our family. We are of the variety that turns off every electronic device when we sit down to meals, we discuss our day, ask our kids questions, and spark their curiosities about life. When it is time to clean up the house we blast music (lately it has been the Frozen soundtrack) and sing at the top of our lungs until our voices crack, playing different parts. We also always read before bed. As an avid reader myself, it is something I have strived to do for my children. Every week we buy a new chapter book for our girls and read a chapter or two before bed. I love the fact that my child gets bored when I read her the early reader books that her bookshelf is stocked full of. I know when she starts reading they’ll be of more interest to her, but being able to be the story reader for her has been such a joy in my life.

It is so easy to find that joy by being the early teacher and educator for your kids.

There are many falsified parenting “tips” that have absolutely no weight. These things often scare parents into making the choices that aren’t for the best. If anybody suggests the following to you, feel free to let it roll right off:

  • “Having one-sided conversations with babies/toddlers who cannot speak yet is worthless.”Wrong! Your child’s brain is growing at an extremely rapid pace from day one. Your interactions with them are worth more than you could ever know, so sing, read, talk, count, and encourage as much as you possibly can.
  • “Playing is only for kids.”False! When you get one on one face level interaction with your baby, they are amazed and fascinated by your voice, and mouth movements when pronouncing words. This helps lay a solid foundation for when they are ready to begin speaking.
  • “If you want a smart baby, you need to buy brainy toys, videos, flash cards and Mozart CDs.”False! These expensive and flashy toys might actually be over stimulating your child, and absolutely not needed! The best, and free option to boost your child’s brain activity is you!

I’m not a super mom with all knowing powers, I learned about these myths from the First 5 CA website, from there you can read more in depth about them.

Nobody knows how to parent your child better than you do, and I’d guess the positive things mentioned here was often part of your gut instinct.

Well Mom (or Dad!), you were right…so…

TALK! READ! SING!

Why not throw some dancing in there for good measure?

If you would like to find out more about the great resources behind this post, visit First 5 California’s website, from there you can access free downloads and fun activities. My personal favorites are the Dance Time exercise and the Homemade Bubbles.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of First 5 California via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

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