Fun ways to help your child learn

Encouraging your child - whatever their age - to learn new things can be satisfying and worthwhile for both of you.

Encouraging your child, whatever their age, to learn new things can be satisfying and worthwhile for both of you if you bear in mind these seven golden rules:

* Make learning lots of fun * Encourage - don't insist! * Stimulate your children's interest by chatting to them * Have singalongs * Share reading time * Involve them in decisions * Take them on visits Below is information about how to help babies learn but if your kids are a bit older with got top tips for them too.


The brain grows faster now than at any other time. Stimulation will aid their development and create a foundation for better learning.

What you can do: * Share picture books to help encourage reading (and develop eye muscles). * Change the scenery: go to the park, visit a friend or a baby group. * Chat and sing constantly: babies love to listen to people's voices and will quickly pick up words.

Buys to help: * Baby Bright DVDs help early learning with bright animation. They cost £12.99 each from * Learn to Count wallchart, £19.95 from helps to develop their memory, maths skills and language. Learning online: * The website encourages parents to talk more to help with language skills. * has simple games to play and Spot stories for you to read to them.

Preschoolers - 3-5 years old

* Learning should be all about socialising * Stories can be shared and discussed - it will help them learn the alphabet * Numbers can be taught through songs and games.

What you can do: * Share books * Talk about things you see: street signs, numbers, animals, birds and so on * Give them dot-to-dot puzzle pictures, so they can start to control a pen/pencil. Buys to help: * Boost their imagination with a dolls' house or pirate ship. Try the Early Learning Centre - * Our cooking with kids section has a stash of simple recipes you can make with your children, or you could buy this Cook It Together cookbook by Annabel Karmel.

Learning online: * Check out our crafts for kids section for loads of makes you can enjoy together. * Check out It features counting games and jigsaw puzzles.

Reception and school year 1

What stage they're at: * They'll be reading aloud at school and will bring books home to read. * Maths will become more formal. * They'll start to learn handwriting.

What you can do: * Listen to them reading, and read together. * Get them to write shopping lists, letters, anything * Have kitchen fun: stir bicarb into water to see it fizz; make bread and watch the yeast 'grow'.

Buys to help: * Make art and writing fun with a big craft kit like Giant Art Studio from Argos, £14.99. * Orchard Toys' Potty Professor game helps to make learning their times tables fun, £10 at

Learning online: *Visit for a huge selection of word and number games or try, which has tips on encouraging children to enjoy reading books.

School years 2, 3 and 4

What stage they're at: * Regular homework involves spelling and maths. * They'll be doing projects on culture and history. * Learn about different types of poetry. What you can do: * Try mind maps to break projects into small chunks. * Join the library and stay there a while to read. Choose books for yourself too. * Visit woods, castles, museums or just the park

Buys to help: * Tony Buzan's Mind Maps for Kids (Harper Collins). * Creative construction helps with maths, science and design. Try K'Nex value tub, around £15, or Magnetix 70 piece kit, £14.99.

Learning online: *Check out for great word and number games - however, it's a US website so check the spelling of some words. Or try - it has over 500 games and learning activities you can register for.

Other useful websites *Visit and for suggestions of which books are right for a certain age group. You can download the opening extract from all the books featured on the latter site, and buy the books at 25% discount. Get some helpful ideas and further information from and

Get them to want to learn * Encourage, but don't insist. If you start arguing about the help you want to give, you'll soon put them off. * Make learning fun, then they'll pick things up without realising it. * Involve them in decisions about where to visit, rather than forcing them to go. * For more information on how a school delivers the National Curriculum, ask for a copy of its prospectus.

More help and advice - 7 ways to teach your kids big stuff - Helping your kids deal with disappointment - Expert advice on praising your child


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