Play Time Helps Babies Develop
Recent research reveals the long-term importance of executive function skills learned in early childhood. Executive function skills are the mental processes that enable the ability to plan, conceptualize, focus attention, remember instructions, maintain self-control, and handle multiple tasks successfully. These skills affect every aspect of life through adulthood. The brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses. Children’s natural development lends itself to focusing on these skills early, and many of the things we do with young children on a daily basis are tasks that will develop executive function…as long as we are focused and think about these tasks in a purposeful manner.
Working on executive function skills should be fun and feel natural, so that your child doesn’t even realize the development that is happening. Games like Peek-A-Boo and Memory work on multiple executive function skills at the same time. Songs, finger plays, and rhymes help develop working memory. Even cooing and babbling back and forth with your baby helps develop Inhibition and Self-Control. Using strategies like repetition, wait time, talking out loud about what you and your child are doing while you are playing together, and asking your child thoughtful questions while reading books with them will help develop executive function skills. Start early, play hard, and enjoy focused time with your child to help with this critical brain development! I promise that when your child starts to drive you will be happy you did!
Carrie M. Tamminga, M.A., CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd. Early Intervention Program Lead Listening & Spoken Language Specialist St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf