Children, and more specifically toddlers, learn a lot through basic observation. This automatically means that the home is the first learning point for them. As a parent or caregiver, it is important that you engage in activities within the home that help with your child’s development. This can be done through extremely simple practices.
Here are some activities that you can encourage in the home for your toddler’s development:
Putting together puzzles is fun, even for adults. There’s something about being able to put together small pieces and making sense of them. It’s meaningful. A puzzle teaches young children about the concept of a ‘whole’ and that each piece is a fraction of the bigger picture. It also helps develop basic skills such as shape recognition, concentration, goal setting, patience, and a sense of achievement, which will stand children in good stead for school.
2. Counting exercises
As you converse with a toddler, you can start to introduce them to counting. This can be incorporated into basic activities, even counting pieces of food as they eat. Identify opportunities throughout the day to practice counting. You may soon find that you’re counting everything!
3. Play sing-along
Many children like to sing and dance. It’s no wonder nursery rhymes are so popular. Instead of putting a regular cartoon for them to watch, put a song and sing along with your child. Encourage singing in the car, while playing at home and during bathtime. If your child attends daycare or preschool, ask the teacher for the class’s favourites songs and reinforce them at home. Your child will start learning through song as she recites letters, numbers, days of the week, and body parts to melodic tunes.
4. Colour recognition
You can also start to introduce colours to your toddler. What’s the colour of different clothes, foods, books? As your child gets older, you can ask him or her to describe the colours to you. You can say, “That is a round, blue ball,” when playing in the yard, or “That sign is a red octagon” when pulling up to a stop sign. This will allow them to practice what they learn as time goes.
5. Pinup pictures
Pictures can improve your mood instantly. They can also enhance your memory. Keep pictures of friends and family on a bulletin board in your child’s room to develop word association and improve memory. Write people’s names on sticky notes (include titles such as “aunt,” “uncle,” and “cousin”) and put them at the bottom of each photo. Refer to the words often, so that your child can start to relate the pictures and words to the actual people.
6. Label items in your household
You can also start to label everyday items in your household. For example, you can label cereal, cutlery, books, and other household items. Even though your toddler can’t read yet, literacy skills start developing early on.
The first three years are super important when it comes to the basic building blocks of reading and writing. Labelling household items, such as the toy bin or desk introduces your child to letters and helps her understand that words have actual meanings.
7. Identify different shapes
Just as you are identifying colours, you can also help your toddler to identify different shapes within the house. This can be done by making a shape book. After drawing shapes on a piece of paper, flip through magazines and newspapers together and cut out items that match each one. Go for a walk to look for other objects with distinctive shapes. Snap photos of the things your child points out—a square window, a round tire, a rectangular brick. Print out and paste the pictures into the book when you get home and label the shapes.