Overall, your best strategy is to provide a safe, loving environment that encourages your child to explore on his own -- an important way for him to learn about the world around him. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2002, toddlers who physically explore their environment, engage socially with other children, and verbally interact with adults are likely to have better scholastic and reading abilities as teenagers compared to less engaging toddlers.
Interestingly, the study's authors -- researchers at the University of Southern California -- suggest that these children create their own stimulating environment that, in turn, facilitates their cognitive ability.
One final bit of advice: Follow your instincts. "Do the very best you can to provide a safe, caring environment," says Dr. Gilmore. "We have instincts that guide our behavior; follow those best instincts and your baby will do just fine."
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