Watch this video for expert tips on your baby's learning.

Watch this video for expert tips on reading with your child.

For more tips, see expert advice below.

What's normal when it comes to my child's development?

All children grow and develop at their own pace. But to give you an idea of what’s typical ...

At ages 3, 4 and 5

Most 3-year-olds can speak more clearly, name colors and pictures, name seven body parts, use words to describe emotions (like happy or sad) and name their friends. At 4, children begin to use past tense and plurals, can follow unrelated directions, sing familiar songs and play with others. And by 5, children can copy patterns, print some letters, cut with safety scissors, recall parts of a story, want to please their friends, and sing and dance around.

If you notice your child isn’t doing things other children the same age are doing, trust your instincts and alert your child’s doctor as soon as possible. You also can reach out for help in the community.

Children in classroom raising hands.

These local groups can help

If there is a delay, early intervention often can help children catch up to their peers.

For example, you can call the free 211 HelpLine and ask for Help Me Grow or the Special Needs Hotline, all of which receive funding from Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. The 211 specialist will ask you questions and usually can find you help within 24 hours. The 211 specialist will call you back in a few weeks to check on you.

Children younger than 6 also can be assessed for free by child developmental specialists through HomeSafe, also is funded by CSC. Young children who are identified at risk for a delay may be referred to other programs for services.

The Palm Beach County School District also offers help for young children. Its Child Find program evaluates children ages 3 to 5. 

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7 tips to encourage learning

To be successful in school – whether in-person or virtually, children need array of tools and skills. Here’s how you can foster those at home, according to the U.S. Department of Education. 

Father and son reading

  • SUPPORT HEALTH: Make sure your child eats right and exercises. Provide a healthy afternoon snack before starting homework. Ensure immunizations are up to date.
  • ENCOURAGE READING: Start early by reading with your baby and young child. Keep reading materials around your home. Let your child see you reading and enjoying it. 
  • START CONVERSATION: This give-and-take helps develop language and communication skills. It also lets your child know you care. So ask about what they’re learning while you’re in the car or eating dinner. Talk about food shopping, prices and health while at the supermarket. Discuss what you see on TV together. This makes conversation an everyday part of your life.
  • MONITOR TV AND VIDEO GAMES: Too much screen time cuts into important activities like reading, playing and talking with family. Limit your own TV watching because children tend to mimic their parents’ behavior. Watch TV together so you can monitor what your child is watching, answer questions and point out important information.
  • VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY: Get your child a library card. Make the library part of your regular weekly schedule. Teach your child how to respect and take care of library materials, as well as return them on time. Research topics that interest your child.
  • SUPPORT RESPONSIBILITY: Establish household rules. Make it clear your child is responsible for his or her actions. Develop a reasonable schedule of household jobs.
  • CHECK ON HOMEWORK: Homework shouldn’t create a family battlefield. Children should know it's the first priority. Set a time each day for it, maybe after your child has had time to relax after school but before doing other activities. Set aside a quiet area and a clear table space so homework is free of distractions. Don't feel it has to be perfect before handing it in to the teacher. Say something positive about their work and maybe point out only one or two errors to prevent discouragement.

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Developing your child's growth mindset

From an early age, children are taught that intelligence and great grades are positives. However, the desire to be seen as smart may limit them from being curious, courageous lifelong learners.

Parents and teachers can work together, though, to help students develop a growth mindset, in which the process of learning – including failing occasionally – is more important than a high mark.

What is a growth mindset?

People who believe their character, intelligence and creative abilities are innate have a fixed mindset, according to Stanford University professor and researcher Carol Dweck. However, people who have growth mindsets believe they can develop themselves through hard work, strategy and input. They think in terms of “I will master this subject,” “I can get faster,” or “I can become a comedian.”

These kind of people, including children and teens, tend to achieve more because they don’t worry as much about their image and truly enjoy the process of learning.


How do I shift my child’s outlook?

Adults can influence children by the behavior they model and the way they interact with children. For example, parents sometimes say things like, “This is my smart one, and this is my funny one” when introducing their children. This promotes a fixed mindset in the first child and can harm the second one.

“Children believe they can learn when they experience success,” says Rose Backhus, manager of professional development for the Palm Beach County School District. “It is the responsibility of both parents and teachers to make the child successful, even if the success is in small steps. Praising small steps and relating success to effort is key …

“Children need to understand that tenacity, effort and practice are the keys to success.”

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