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Growth and development activities: Top 10 lists

Child playing with Father

Growth and development

Each child is unique and develops in his/her own way. There are five key areas of development:

  • Social development: How your child makes friends and gets along with others
  • Emotional maturity: How children understand and manage their feelings and understand the feelings of others
  • Communication and language: How a child uses speech and lets others know their needs
  • Healthy body: How kids take care of themselves and their bodies, such as washroom routines, physical activity, eating etc.
  • Thinking and learning: How children use information and problem solve

There are ways you can check if your child's development is on track for his/her age. Here are links to more information:

'Top 10' lists

Here are some activities you can do with your child to help him/her prepare for "big kids" school (covering each area of child development above):

Want to help your child make friends and get along with others? Try some tips from our top 10:

  1. Visit local Ontario Early Years Centres (external link), libraries, recreation and community centres together.
  2. Give tons of love (external link) – kind words, hugs, kisses, an understanding ear and a shoulder to cry on.
  3. Notice your kid’s unique personality. Children of different temperaments (external link) may enter the social circle more quickly or slowly than others.
  4. Organize play events (external link) and invite other kids over to play.
  5. Role-model kindness, good manners (external link), sharing, turn-taking and fair play (external link).
  6. Help kids build language skills and use words to express their own feelings (external PDF file) and be gentle with those of others (external PDF file).
  7. Have family rituals, traditions, special events and celebrations.
  8. Role-model respect (external PDF file) for the traditions, beliefs and values of others.
  9. PLAY (external PDF) with your kids!!!
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Emotional maturity (external link) happens over time and we as parents and caregivers play a vital role in nurturing the emotional development of our children. Here are our top 10 ways for promoting healthy emotional development:

  1. Be enthusiastic and show your love– show delight in efforts (external link), successes and attempts.
  2. Use positive and encouraging words (external PDF file) in everyday conversations – give praise (external link) and pats on the back!
  3. Encourage and support (external link)External Link new adventures and challenges.
  4. Be very generous with hugs and kisses (external link)!
  5. Role model self-control by setting limits (external link) and having a few simple, clear rules (external link) to follow.
  6. Teach your kids how to deal with small upsets or disappointments and be sensitive (external link) about their difficult feelings.
  7. Role model and teach the use of words, not hands to express feelings (external link) – especially when angry or frustrated (external link).
  8. Look at family photos often and remember fun and happy times (external link) that make your family so special!
  9. Keep your family schedule simple (external link)– allow time for unstructured play (external link).
  10. Arrange care for your kids and take care of yourself - go out and have some grown-up fun!
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 Try some ideas from our top 10 list of practical things you can do to enhance your child’s communication and language:

  1. Talk with your kids – a lot! Be sure to make eye contact when you talk together. Use simple, clear language (external link) and avoid baby talk.
  2. Encourage and teach your kids to use words (external link) to express and identify their feelings (external link). Non-verbal communication is important too! Show your child how you feel with facial expressions and gestures.
  3. Read with your kids (external PDF file) – a lot! Read books you enjoy, in your first language (external link). Help your child relate the book you read to their world. Talk about, show, point to, and label words you read together.
  4. Check for signs of hearing or speech concerns (external link) and consult your doctor, local OEYC (external link), Halton Region (external link) or a ASK clinic (external link) for support.
  5. Visit the library together and select books to read. Your local libraries have online “read aloud” selections – visit the Burlington (external link), Halton Hills (external link), Milton (external link) and Oakville (external link) library websites.
  6. Sing along with the radio, make up a song together or share a fun or silly song from your childhood. Use actions that go along with the song!
  7. Recite nursery rhymes and play rhyming games together. Learn them online (external link)!
  8. Ask your kids to tell you a story using the pictures in the book – feel free to experiment with the words and images in the books you share. Have fun (external link) with reading!
  9. Encourage your kids to talk (external link) to you and tell you a story – about anything at all.
  10. Limit your family’s use of technology or “screen time” such as TV, video games and computers.
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Wondering how you can promote thinking and learning skills? Here’s our TOP 10:

  1. Work together with your kids to set up “centres” at home – for reading, talking (external link), writing, listening to music, drawing, gardening (external link), play dough or any other activity you enjoy.
  2. Visit the library together and borrow books that interest your child. Don't forget about non-fiction children’s books about animals, reptiles, mammals, ocean life, machines, the solar system or any topic with real-life information to be learned.
  3. Read together (external link).
  4. As you play with play dough, paper and scissors or blocks, ask your child to tell you about what he/she is doing. Build on this by asking questions such as “how did you make this?”, “What would happen if…” Listen to the stories your child tells as she makes new creations and talk about what she is doing. Make the shapes of letters and numbers and say words that start with that letter or point to that number somewhere in your home.
  5. Enjoy an age-appropriate jigsaw puzzle together – praising (external PDF file) efforts (external link) as you go!
  6. As you walk, bike, play or travel around your community, play “I Spy” (external link) or “detective”, taking turns spotting colours, numbers, letters (external PDF file) and simple words (e.g. “stop” on a sign).
  7. Enjoy simple card games together such as “Go Fish” (external link) or “Old Maid” (external link) or just play (external link) anything together.
  8. Be a role model for the love of reading (external link) – sit together while you read your books or the newspaper and help point out colours, letters, numbers and simple words. Talk about interesting stories that you see in the paper that your child may relate to.
  9. Play match-up games together sorting laundry into piles according to size, item or owner; putting cutlery in the drawer, sorting and piling like items together and separating larger and small spoons and calling them “bigger” and “smaller”.
  10. Give loads of hugs, smiles and words of encouragement – a secure base (external link) of unconditional love, acceptance and support (external link) is the best thing for your little one's growing brain (external link).
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We have a few more! Try some of our TOP 10 tips for growing healthy (external PDF file) kids:

  1. Role model and encourage your kids to wash hands before eating, after using the washroom and when they become dirty or sticky.
  2. Show and remind your kids to sneeze into their elbow or sleeve – this reduces the spreadExternal Link of infection.
  3. Continue to help your child brush their teeth until the age of 7.
  4. Help your child to floss their teeth once a day.
  5. Role model and teach your kids how to play safely in the sun (external link)!
  6. Teach your kids their full name, address and phone number – turning it into a song makes it fun!
  7. Practise holding and playing with a pencil, crayon, brush and a string of beads.
  8. Make a balanced breakfast (external link) and healthy eating (external link) a habit in your home. Fruits and vegetables can be cut into fun shapes and arranged on a plate to form faces, letters or anything you like! Make healthy eating fun (external link)!
  9. Encourage your kids to manage basic tasks (external PDF file) including the washroom routine on his own – practise zippers, buttons (external link) and washing hands with every trip to the loo.
  10. Check that growth and development is on track (external link) and seek help if you have questions or concerns.
  11. Live an active (external link), playful (external link) lifestyle and have fun together - celebrate efforts and try new things (external link)!
  12. Just breathe. Role model and teach your kids to take big, long breaths a few times a day to refresh their bodies and clear their minds.
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