Always busy, moms are dynamic and innovative. From managing their careers while raising their children, to attending board meetings and parent-teacher conferences, to adjudicating grievances among siblings, moms move mountains daily. Regardless of how relentless the pull in competing directions, regardless of how daunting the odds, moms prevail because of their unwavering commitment to their children’s success, which begins in early childhood.
At DMAI, our mission to lift humanity starts with early childhood education, where learning interventions are the most fruitful. With Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA), our original series, we offer moms of toddlers and preschoolers a virtual preschool that sparks learning while promoting emotional well-being.
While no person nor product can ever replace mom, we are pleased to offer moms a parenting tool that promotes learning, collaborative play, and overall well-being for toddlers and preschoolers, AILA Sit & Play, along with our own list of mom essentials.
“AILA is a safe place for [my daughter] to learn, [and she] feels comfortable with the pleasant characters. A device will never take the place of family learning experiences or one-on-one parent to child teaching opportunities, but AILA is a tool that we trust with our children when life pulls us away.”
Mother of three
As avid learners, toddlers are always testing boundaries. Consistency when responding to your child will help him or her regulate behavior and develop confidence. Inconsistency can produce anxiety in children, which can hinder healthy emotional and cognitive development.
Being consistent requires patience. While it is human nature to want to fix things ourselves immediately when we see mistakes, we should resist. Giving preschoolers the opportunity to make and to correct their mistakes early on empowers them to become risk takers later in life. And practicing patience, particularly combined with humor, promotes good health.
Having fun is important in everything a child does to keep both body and mind engaged. Moms are naturally resourceful. The good news is that learning does not have to be as formal as we might believe. In fact, it is more developmentally appropriate for preschoolers to engage in sensory, hands-on activities like finger painting or building with Legos over formal academic work. As hands-on learners, preschoolers like to get their hands dirty, and parents will find sensory materials worth the investment.
Moms raise the next generation of human beings, and, for better or worse, they command the respect that comes with that monumental role. Moms whose love makes their children better merit respect and gratitude.
Sometimes we find we aren’t always offered the support we need. Moms who have gone their whole lives may find that, without a few friends or family members around, life can become daunting, but support can come from anywhere. Those of us who have checked in on new moms on the block to see if they need anything from the store know that the enthusiastic response alone is worth reaching out.
While we live in times of increased anxiety and uncertainty, during the first three years of development, a child’s brain typically attains 80% of its adult size; by age five, that percentage typically reaches 90%. During a period of such tremendous growth, every interaction matters. Advances in neuroscience definitively demonstrate that consistently loving and nurturing interactions are necessary to maximize cognitive development and emotional well-being for young children. Social and emotional well-being, moreover, drives academic success over the course of your child’s educational journey.
A healthy sense of humor.
There are few things in the world more essential than humor. And as many moms have discovered while lying in bed giggling with their little ones, a good hearty laugh pays off every time, for babies and moms alike.
A warm bath.
After a long, possibly messy, gloriously expressive and, quite frankly, exhausting day with the baby, it’s tough to find a substitute better than a meditative bath. And bath bombs never hurt.
With the internet, it is not always necessary to buy books to learn about the baby cycle. With careful curation, the internet offers plenty of solutions to simple questions, and it’s full of other moms with babies of similar age, waiting to share their own tips for making each day special.
AILA Sit & Play.
The place is Animal Island, a safe place to learn, and the friends are Mister Goose, Hedgehog, Monkey, Mister Frog, Pig, Fox, and the traveling Miss Panda. They solve problems collaboratively, and the place is filled with joyful learning, offering toddlers and preschoolers enriching, nurturing, and fun-filled learning experiences.
Play as learning.
One of the more notable trends about education today is how often “entertaining” and “educational” are part of the same conversation. In terms of development, playing and learning are deeply connected, for in that interplay young people are figuring out rules and logic.
Build a fort.
When children begin imaginative play, they are ready to exercise their STEAM skills. Sofa cushions, pillows, and a blanket are all that’s needed for preschoolers to build a fort. While having fun, they will be experimenting with the laws of physics as well as exploring aesthetic principles related to art and creativity.
Create a game box.
Preschoolers are voracious learners and natural scientists, as made evident by the proliferation of “how” and “why” questions and their exponentially-expanding vocabulary.
Loading a box with coloring books, crayons, playing cards, and age-appropriate puzzles will engage toddlers and preschoolers for hours on end while promoting joyful learning and problem solving. Coloring helps toddlers develop the fine motor skills necessary for literacy and art. Many card games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! are reading intensive activities that support cognitive development. Legos and Play-Doh have withstood the test of time by fostering STEAM and engineering skills.
Music offers multi-sensory learning experiences during early childhood. Along with helping toddlers develop fine and large motor skills, music helps toddlers develop the neural networks necessary for language processing, mathematics, and creative expression. Sharing music brings families closer together and promotes a sense of security for little ones. After all, no baby is too young for a little dance night, and it’s a great pre-bedtime ritual for life.
The power of stories.
Most bedtimes are accompanied by either lullabies or stories, and rightly so. Reading or singing to children builds literacy skills and cultivates within children an appreciation for language and narrative, key building blocks for creativity and communication. Whenever possible, children should read independently, and when children are too young to read independently, they can follow along with audio versions of their favorite books.
Nothing offers a higher return on investment for babies than early childhood education. Whether it’s speaking simply and clearly to your child, using various edutainment products, games, or just reading to your little one, toddlers take it all in, and that early enrichment and exposure pays off in later life. As Dr. Lynn A. Karoly, senior economist at the RAND Corporation, has noted, “Early childhood stands out as a particularly notable area for investment precisely because so many interventions appear to save money in the long term.”
Comfortable baby/mama space.
There is no substitute for a comfortable book nook or reading perch where moms can relax with babies, bonding and connecting. Even the most austere home needs a relaxing space where babies can know mom at her most relaxed.
Many moms have discovered the magic of the laundry room. Simply lean the baby seat up against the dryer while it spins softly and read to your child. The combination of gentle vibrations, white noise, relative warmth, and the lull of mom’s voice reading has just the right mixture of ingredients to send baby off to dreamland — multitasking at its finest!
When babies start to eat soft foods, moms have an opportunity to establish healthy habits. Avocados, bananas, kiwis, and similar nutrient-packed foods make great snacks and offer a foundation for lifelong healthy nutrition. In addition, shared meals offer opportunities to model social skills for toddlers, as well as invaluable teaching and bonding moments for moms and babies.
AILA Sit & Play is a virtual preschool featuring a comprehensive 18-month curriculum designed specially for toddlers and preschoolers. No subscriptions are necessary, and the curriculum receives free updates. Powered by next-generation cognitive artificial intelligence, the curriculum evolves based upon your child’s unique learning style, making AILA Sit & Play the learning companion for a happy child by delivering the right content at the right time.
From formula to formal education, children grow up quickly, and the habits of mind and heart established during their early formative years determine the shape of each child’s journey. With AILA Sit & Play, moms can offer their littles ones an exceptional, at-home learning adventure based upon best practices in early childhood education and social and emotional learning.
We wish all the moms, along with those supporting moms, a bountiful Mother’s Day.
Dr. Delano Copprue