Does your child have a keen, focused interest in one particular subject? Is he reciting his alphabet, writing his letters over and over, and trying to sound out words? Maybe your young child is particularly interested in movement and is learning gymnastics maneuvers or dance routines exceptionally quickly. Perhaps your math whiz has been counting his peas, and the number she can count is getting higher by the day. All parents want to nurture their young children’s interests, but doing so thoughtfully is key.
Build Skills at a Slow and Steady Pace. It can become tempting to go from learning the ABC’s to reading chapter books, but slow down. Try to give your child age-appropriate activities that he can perform on his own. If he knows his ABC’s, teach him the sounds that each letter makes. Once he’s mastered that, give him cards with a letter written on each one, and send him on a scavenger hunt, labeling household items with the letter they might start with. He can do it on his own, and it’s a nice step that will be less overwhelming than asking him to sound out every word in the dictionary.
Make it Fun! When your daughter shows an affinity for a musical instrument, and seems to be able to understand its basic function, it’s a slippery slope from that stage to weekly lessons and daily practices and drills. Instead, help her pick out a few notes on the piano that form a simple melody. Encourage her to play for her stuffed animals. Reward her with a goofy dance as she bangs out a nonsensical melody. A young child learns best when you let her play, explore, and have fun.
Temper Your Expectations. If your little gymnast is truly focusing on her skills now and is developing new techniques after every lesson impressing everyone with her budding expertise, that’s great! Remember to allow her to grow at her own pace, however. This may be an interest that leads to the Junior Olympics. Or it may be a phase, and next year, she’ll be all about rock collecting. Encourage her as she goes along, but don’t register disappointment if she turns her interests elsewhere.
Remember to let your daycare or preschool teachers know when your child is honing in on a new interest. Allowing him to pursue that interest at childcare is an important way for him to grow his skills.