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How can parents and caregivers promote early learning?

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READ our infographic for tips for developing your child's language skills.

A child's home, family, and daily life have a strong effect on his or her ability to learn. 

You are your child's first teacher, and every day is filled with opportunities to help him or her learn. You can help by:1, 2, 3, 4

  • Reading to your childExternal Web Site Policy, beginning when she or he is born
  • Pointing out and talking with your child about the names, colors, shapes, numbers, sizes, and quantities of objects in his or her environment
  • Listening and responding to your child as he or she learns to communicate
  • Practicing counting together

Video Series: Developing Lifelong Learners

NICHD experts provide tips on how to encourage lifelong learning in your children using math, language, and reading skills:

Read the Developing Lifelong Learners: Math Skills text alternative​.

Read the Developing Lifelong Learners: Language Skills text alternative​.

Read the Developing Lifelong Learners: Reading Skills text alternative​.

Basic things like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet are also important for a child's brain development and ability to learn. Creating a stable home with routines and support encourages children to learn and explore. Loud background sounds in the home (televisions, stereos, video games) can be distracting and stressful to young children and should be turned off or the volume lowered when they are present.

A good child care or preschool program also helps a child to learn and grow. For more information on evaluating and choosing a program, select a link below:

You might also want to learn about the findings from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (PDF - 1.25 MB), which examined different features of child care and how they affected children's lives.


  1. National Institute for Literacy. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel: Executive summary. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/Documents/NELPSummary.pdf (PDF - 681 KB) [top]
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Administration for Children and Families Early Learning & Knowledge Center. (1992). Fun and learning for parents and children: An activities handbook. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/for-families/inside/getting-involved/famcom_hgm_00007_060705.html[top]
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Administration for Children and Families Early Learning & Knowledge Center. (2010). Parents and families as teachers. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/for-families/parenting/Parents%20as%20Teachers/ParentsandFamil.htm[top]
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood. (2014). Literacy promotion: An essential component of primary care pediatric practice. Pediatrics,134(2), 404–409.[top]

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