Tips to Help Your Child Learn

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 05, 2021

You want your child to succeed and reach their full potential, but you may be unsure about your role in the process. How can you prepare them and help them to learn both at home and in school? These tips on child development and education will help you and your kid to do your best.

Have Fun With Learning

Playtime is serious business. It helps children develop the social, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills necessary to function. In other words, it teaches them how to learn, rather than just learning facts and figures.

Play needs to be age-appropriate, so here are some ideas for every age:

The First Year

  • Show interesting objects, and change the position of your baby so they can see the world from different vantage points. 
  • Engage your newborn with different noises and facial expressions. 
  • Give your baby a safe space to crawl and explore.
  • Use a mirror to show your infant their expressions.

The Toddler Years

  • Give your toddler time for unstructured play and exploration. Make sure they have simple toys and objects such as blocks and empty containers.
  • Organize a supervised playdate between your child and their peers.
  • Encourage make-believe and pretend play.
  • Read to your kid regularly.

Four to Six Years

  • Limit screen time.
  • Encourage your child to dance and explore different forms of movement in a safe environment.
  • Talk to your kid about things you watch or view together, helping them work on their memory.
  • Let your child move between reality and pretend. Encourage them to act out different roles and stories.
  • Schedule social interaction time with friends.

Seven to Twelve Years.

  • Play card and board games, particularly ones that involve fantasy, strategy, or fast reflexes.
  • Try different types of puzzles.
  • Join organized sports, which can help with social skills and executive function.
  • Encourage them to try musical activities or performing and visual arts.

Prepare Your Kids for School

Helping your kids to learn involves more than just teaching them things. You will also have to prepare them to make the most of formal learning opportunities at school.

Establish School Readiness. Before your child starts kindergarten, they need to display school or kindergarten readiness. They should demonstrate curiosity, communication skills, understanding, and the ability to pay attention. You can help them get to this state by:

  • Reading aloud to help increase vocabulary and improve their ability to follow and tell stories
  • Facilitating peer engagement through playdates and groups
  • Encouraging unstructured play 
  • Using community resources such as local programs, zoos, and museums
  • Establishing a daily routine before their first day of school
  • Talking to them about what they can expect in school

Support School Performance. Stay informed about your child’s progress and the opportunities available to them through their school. Talk to your kid and to their teachers. If they are old enough, encourage them to take charge of their own education and talk to their teachers themselves. Be alert to any individual or special needs they may have.

Establish the importance of homework, and create an environment that will help them complete it. Work with your kid’s temperament. Are they more likely to get distracted on their own or under supervision? Do they have a limited attention span that requires a break? Make a schedule and workstation that takes these things into concern.

Support them, but don’t take over or do the work for them. Not only will they not learn the material, they’ll get the message that you don’t believe in their ability to succeed on their own. It’s also a good thing for them to learn that they can survive and recover from mistakes they make.

Continue Learning at Home

Learning at home is equally as important as learning at school. Encourage and model creativity and curiosity. Take your kids to the library or to museums. Read or watch things together and discuss it. Play with art supplies or take on a joint science project. Ask them about their interests and actively support them, taking them to relevant places or enrolling them in afterschool programs.

Remember that your children look to you for inspiration as well as support. Tell them what you get out of certain pursuits or interests, and show them ways in which you make time for those interests.

Show Sources


American Academy of Pediatrics: “The Power of Play - How Fun and Games Help Children Thrive.”

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Help Children Learn at Home.”

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence.

Harvard Medical School: “5 ways we can help our children succeed,” “Helping Your Child With Homework.”

Mayo Clinic: “Kindergarten readiness: Help your child prepare.”

Pediatrics: “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children.”

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