On some days, just keeping your toddler fed and in clean diapers feels like a challenge. However, weaving learning opportunities for your child into your day doesn’t require elaborate activities. Toddlers soak up bits of knowledge about how the world works from every experience throughout the day. What she learns from you will prepare her as she gains independence and heads off to preschool.
Your interactions with your toddler affect how she learns to connect with others. Providing her with a supportive, comfortable, safe environment where she is allowed to experiment on her own can give her a sense of confidence. Games that require her to wait her turn teach patience and sharing. Group interaction with peers give her the opportunity to practice and develop her social skills. A playgroup is an option for informal social interactions. With your supervision and redirection, she learns how to interact with other toddlers in acceptable ways.
Toddlers can act impulsively and can’t gauge the danger level of their actions. Swinging on the curtains seems like an exciting idea, but many toddlers don’t realize she could get caught or pull down the curtain rod on her head. Teaching your toddler safety skills prepares her for those potentially dangerous settings she’ll encounter. Toddler safety topics include road and traffic safety, riding trikes with helmets, staying with a parent and knowing what to do when lost. Teaching your toddler her full name, your name and her address is also useful if she ever becomes lost. Many opportunities arise throughout the day for teaching safety. For example, if your toddler nearly runs out into the road, you can practice looking before crossing and always waiting for an adult.
Parents become so used to doing everything for their babies, but once your child reaches the toddler stage, she will want to start acting on her own. As frustrating as it can be to wait while your toddler tries to put on her own shoes or brush her own teeth, letting her handle those self-care tasks teaches her independence and self-reliance. Young toddlers often cannot complete the self-care tasks alone. Supervising and helping out when needed gives her the chance to learn the skills with support. For example, let her brush her teeth before you take over to ensure all the grime is brushed away.
Toddlers naturally learn from the environment, but entertaining activities on basic knowledge such as letters, numbers, shapes and colors give her a broader base of knowledge. A simple way to teach these concepts is to point them out in the environment. For example, you can talk about letters or numbers you see on signs while you go for a walk. While playing with toys, count how many blocks she has. Reading books is an easy way to teach your toddler basic concepts while building her vocabulary.