Ten activities to boost your toddler's development
Learning activities are powerful tools to boost your child’s development. They can provide opportunities to develop communications, promote social interaction and boost cognitive development.
By incorporating a few fun activities for toddlers into your daily schedule, learning becomes an extension of playtime; something that can benefit mum and dad as well as the little ones.
Here we’ve put together our top 10 activities that are easy to incorporate into your day - and they’ll encourage your toddler’s cognitive and language development.
- Count everything you can – how many of your toddler’s tops you are folding, how many apples you’re buying, how many books in their room or how many blocks in a box. Everywhere you look there is an opportunity to teach your child how to count.
- Reading and writing skills start with a basic understanding of the alphabet so read them plenty of books that highlight the ABC’s.
- Textures help with your toddler’s sensory perceptions and you can try out different textures to help your little one with all kinds of learning. Try tracing the letters of the alphabet or numbers onto a large sheet of paper and then get your toddler to decorate them with textured items – think pipe cleaners, cotton wool, sacking, dry pasta, tissue paper etc. Touching the letters or numbers is a great opportunity for your child to feel the way each is formed, so they can learn the way a letter is shaped before they reach the stage of trying to write.
- Help your child to learn the name for different sounds by identifying noises they hear – a ringing telephone, a knock on the door, a motorbike, a police siren, the dishwasher, a dog barking or a baby crying. Any sound they hear is an opportunity to learn.
- Your child’s cognitive and reasoning skills will improve if you give them choices as often as you can. Ask them to select an option as often as you can as you go about your day. For example, do they want an apple or a pear? Should you go to the supermarket or the library? Do they want you to read them 'The Cat in the Hat' or 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'?
- You can teach your child to learn about shapes and colours by pointing them out during the day. For example, this is a square pink facecloth, this book has a blue cover, this circle is yellow, or this apple is red.
- Singing anything - the vocabulary, rhyming words, counting etc - helps to create an exciting new world for your toddler where learning is fun. According to Pam Allyn, author of Your Child’s Writing Life, before he or she starts learning to read, your tot will learn an average of nine new words per day, and you’ll have a better chance of making this happen if you create words for kids that are like dream catchers' nets, capturing beautiful words and the sounds of them.
- Teach your child how to relate to height and length as a precursor to using a ruler. Try stacking up ordinary items like cans, boxes of tissues or folded towels to see how many it takes to measure their height or the width of their bed (for example, your bed is 5 books wide).
- Encourage everyday skills and incorporate movement – ordinary stuff like using a spoon, drinking from a cup, taking a toy back to the bedroom or pulling up a pair of tights help your toddler to think about what they are doing while utilising both big and small muscle movements that will help to build muscle strength.
- As your child learns and grows, encourage them to learn more by adding details to what they say. If they see a dog, tell them “Yes that’s a dog. It’s a big black dog with one white leg and a red collar”.
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