3 Ways Aunts Can Help Kids Develop on Any Given Day!
By Marie Owens, MEd.
As aunts, there are some things that we
cannot do for our nieces and nephews, like carry them for nine months or
be present for each and every milestone. But there is so much that we can do to help them develop intellectually from day one until … well, it really never ends!
the first day you meet the swaddled-to-perfection love of your life you
can begin to help them acquire language abilities in a few simple ways.
First, by narrating the actions and ideas of your daily activities
(similar to the "thinking aloud" technique that teachers use) you begin
to help them see what is being processed in your mind and what sounds
and words correspond with those mental events. Also, by simply sharing
your love for language with children by taking them to the bookstore,
listening to an audio book in the car or showing them how we read
newspapers (and blogs!), you model the kind of lifelong learning that
can help motivate young people to choose literacy for the rest of their
show that children who are surrounded in homes with numbers (think
calendars, clocks and lists) embrace and succeed in mathematics at
greater numbers than children that do not. While the little ones may not
live with you, it is certainly possible for you to show them how much
money it takes to buy a sandwich, to talk to them about the numbers
going by on a crosswalk sign or to ask them to pick out which group of
blocks is more than the other. The idea here is that young minds need to
be exposed to the concept that numbers are all around us and that math
isn't something to fear but a natural way of looking at relationships in
some, the term critical thinking conjures up images of a college class
and the mounds of required reading attached to it, but it is far more
fun and less complicated than that when it comes to human development.
This skill is often cited as one of the least developed aspects of
students’ thinking when they enter high school, college and the
workforce. We as aunts can help our nieces and nephews by coaching them
to think about problem solving as a flexible process that involves
looking at an issue or challenge from multiple perspectives. Early on,
we can ask them dilemmas like: "What should we do if you and your
brother want to go to different parks this Saturday?" Or, "Why do you
think your clothes get wet if you leave them too close to the bath tub?"
While questions like this might seem silly to ask children, if we have
the patience to keep asking "why" questions and don't let simple answers
prevail, we can help them to take others points of view or understand
the roots of cause and effect relationships.
In all, there is so
much that any adult can do to help the young people in their life
develop in a natural and unforced manner. These types of actions don't
"feel like school" and so they can be made into fun games that your
niece or nephew will enjoy. The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t
need a whole lot of money or fancy baby university classes to see mental
growth. All you need is time, patience and a desire to see the ones you
Marie Owens is an education consultant, freelance writer and an overjoyed aunt.
Updated and republished: February 8, 2017