Experts agree that there are critical periods in brain development during which, getting everything from proper stimulation to proper nutrition is key for learning.

Whether or not your child is attending preschool, these activities will go a long way in helping to expand his blossoming cognitive, motor, communication, and social skills.

COGNITIVE

Please explain yourself. Build on your child’s ability to understand and respond to two-step instructions (“Please bring me your book and put this in the trash on the way”).

What do we need to buy? Ask your child to help you make grocery shopping lists and other kinds of planning lists.

Visit zoos, museums, and library. All of these excursions are ways to expose kids to new experiences and new kinds of learning.

What’s the answer? When your child asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, say, “Let’s look it up.” Go to the library to find a book on the subject or search online. Four-year-olds often show a lot of curiosity about big topics like death, space, weather, and the prehistoric world. 

MOTOR

Play outside every day. Whether in the backyard or at a park, or taking a walk through the neighbourhood, your 4-year-olds love to explore their world—and get healthy with exercise.

Encourage craftiness. Keep plenty of art supplies on hand and accessible, like paper, magazines. Make clay sculptures and do easel painting.

Practice with utensils. Let him learn how to use a spoon, fork, and table knife correctly, before he can do it easily on his own.

COMMUNICATION

Make reading interactive. When you’re reading a story together, keep your child engaged by asking questions: “Why did the dog run away?”

Invent stories. Let your child create, read, and change stories around. It is a creative exercise.

Don’t sweat the swearing. Don’t get too worked up if your child picks up and uses curse words. Swearing is a normal type of imitative behaviour. Be cool but disapproving. 

SOCIAL

Be affectionate. Touch, cuddle, hug. Be physical.

Address aggression. If your child hits or throws things in anger, hold him firmly yet calmly, so he can regain control of his emotions. Let him know that what he’s doing isn’t acceptable. When he’s calm, you can talk about it.

Make clean-up fun. Set a timer for picking up after playtime. Make it challenging.

Praise good behaviour. Let your child know when he has behaved well. Your loving words and hugs are positive reinforcement.