7 Activities to Improve Your Toddler’s Development
Engage your toddler in these simple yet highly impactful activities in the comfort of your own home or while you’re out and about! Your little ones will begin to explore their senses and the world around them like never before.
Toddlers are just starting to discover their senses! They love to touch, smell, and taste just about everything. This helps them to understand the amazing and new world around them.
Use a dark marker to trace letters of the alphabet onto big poster paper. Then, let your little one decorate every letter with textured items such as sandpaper, beans, cotton balls, pastas, and pipe cleaners. The options really are endless! Touching the letters gives your child the opportunity to feel the way a letter is formed. Learning can’t be more tangible than that.
For little ones learning to write, their fingers can experiment with the shape of a letter before grasping a writing utensil. Each day, say the letters out loud as your child runs his/her fingers over them. That way, more than one of their senses is being activated and the learning experience is that much more beneficial. Later on, enhance the activity by creating a poster that spells out your child’s first name. Soon your child will notice these same letters on signs, posters, and all over the house.
Label your Household
Choose one or two items to label in your house, such as the windows, beds, or refrigerator. Swap out the labeled objects every few months. Do your best to make each label the same size and a basic font so kids can identify them easily. Tape the labels to their corresponding objects around the house.
According to Childcarelounge.com, labeling allows children to know that everything has a set of common symbols to be written down and identified. If your child is old enough to recognize letters, ask him/her what letter "table" begins with and ask him/her to find the label that starts with "T." If your child is still too young for this activity, point out different letters to begin introducing him/her to the words. Reinforce the activity daily and over time, your child will be able to identify the words on their own!
Nurture your child’s helpful spirit as early as possible! ;)
Promoting organization in your home will teach your little one that chores and responsibility are a common expectation and will be rewarded positively. Parents are encouraged to embrace this quality even though it may slow down their own activities and chores around the house while teaching their kiddos.
Begin by labelling bins for where toys, clothes, dishes, etc. need to go. As you put things in their respective bins, turn the process into a guessing game. AKA make it FUN! Your child will begin to notice where you place certain things and will be ready to guide you. Ask your child where certain items belong or purposely place items in the wrong area (forks in the sock drawer, toys in the fridge) and challenge your toddler to fix your mistakes. They will love the feeling of ownership and “knowing” where things go around the house! Your little one will be mommy’s and/or daddy’s little helper in no time.
Children love to explore! Scavenger hunts can be planned ahead of time or invented on the spot while you’re out-and-about or doing nothing at home. For example, at the grocery store, search for foods that are one particular color, or at home, look for objects of one shape (like a circle or rectangle). To help your child, gather a few objects in the beginning of the “hunt” that fit the description of the objects for which they’re looking. This will help them to create a schema in their mind of the hidden items.
At home, expand on the Label Your Household activity by arranging a scavenger hunt for different labeled items. You can also pretend that you can't find certain objects around the house and the only way you will find them is if your toddler is sent on a fun mission to locate them around the house!
Sing Vocabulary Words
In their pre-reading years, children learn an average of nine new words a day. Parents have a greater chance of making this happen by creating a world full of creativity, exploration, and even song. Create silly tunes about counting to ten or rhyming words to improve your child’s recall in vocabulary and learning.
Encourage singing while playing with toys, driving in the car, and during bath time. Teach songs to grandparents and babysitters so that all of the important people in your child's life will be involved in this lighthearted activity. Your child will start learning through song as he/she recites letters, numbers, days of the week, and items around the house to melodic and memorable tunes.
Pin up Pictures
Print out pictures of family members, friends, and teachers and place them on the fridge or a bulletin board in your child’s room. Help your toddler develop word association and improve their memory by teaching the names and relationships of each face on the board.
Write people’s names on sticky notes – including titles like “aunt,” “uncle,” etc. – and put them at the bottom of each photo. Refer to these titles as often as possible, especially during family events or at school. As your child familiarizes themselves with the people, try removing the sticky notes from the pictures to test their memory!
Get them to Vote
Obviously, toddlers do not have the right to vote in any country on this planet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t vote!
Ask your toddler questions like “Summer vs. Winter?” or “Dogs vs. Cats” to encourage your little one to vote for things he/she genuinely likes and prefers. Be sure to ask follow up questions that challenge them to give reasons for their votes. Maybe even have a small debate!
Activities like this are crucial for helping your child develop the power of reasoning and it promotes their confidence while speaking up for themselves and their beliefs, even if it’s something silly like their preferred ice cream flavor!