Their First Teacher is You - Part III

Their First Teacher is You - Part 3 of a 3-part series
By guest author Rachel Giannini, Early Childhood Specialist/Video Blog Host/Early Childhood Advocate.
One year old boy standing next to wood activity center while playing.

Toy feature: Playground Adventure

You are everything to your child. Cook, caregiver, entertainer, chauffeur, and teacher. Yes, teacher! In fact, you are your child’s first and best teacher. This is because 80% of your child’s brain is developed before they reach the age of three and 90% by the time they are five. With one million neurological connections are made, every second, every moment can be a teachable moment in the life of a small child. While that may sound like a lot of pressure, fear not! You are a natural teacher! But in case you are looking for some activities to do with your little one, here are a few personal favorites!

Six months to 1 year

You have a mover and shaker! With your little one now crawling everywhere and preparing to stand and walk, you may be looking for an activity that will keep them in one place. Look no further than standup activity sets! They are a great way to help transition your child from crawling to walking. This encourages cruising and standing, which helps build gross motor muscles and builds the confidence needed for those first steps! Activity centers work on those big muscle groups, but they put those fine motor muscles to work. With all this stimulation, it is easy for adults to get in to extend the learning experience!

Ten-month old boy crawling on floor with a teether toy in his mouth.

Motion, directions, and shapes are the name of the game. As your child moves a shape, name the shape that they’re moving. When they move it, comment on the direction. “You’re moving it up.” Finally, how are they moving it? Fast? Slow? Provide the exciting play-by-play! This not only enriches their vocabulary but it makes learning concrete.

A teachable moment doesn’t mean you walk around with a globe, microscope, and a thesaurus. It means that you talk to your child. It means pointing out shapes, colors, and animals. It means singing to your little one and reading stories. It means doing all the things that you are already probably doing. Remember, you’re amazing, and you’ve got this!

About Rachel Giannini:

Rachel Giannini is an early childhood educator with over a decade in the classroom, an early childhood specialist, advocate, and a video blog host. She currently splits her time as a public speaker, early childhood commentator, curriculum designer, and the star of Spy School on Hellosaurus.


Rachel's writing, expertise, and videos have appeared in Vox, The New York Times, HuffPost, Child Care Exchange, and Chicago Parent. Rachel has a BA in Early Child Education and over ten years in the classroom. She also has an MFA in Museum Education from the University of Illinois and is a volunteer hospital magician for Open Heart Magic.