Your baby turned one, congratulations! S/he is a toddler now. A child between ages 12 to 36 months of age is called toddler and this new phase comes with a lot of new milestones and very interesting activities. Toddlerhood is the phase where you will see your baby developing many different sets of skills. The toddler years are a time of great cognitive, emotional and social development. The word is derived from “to toddle”, which means to walk unsteadily, like a child of this age.
There are five main areas of skill development. They are:
Cognitive skills: A child is able to process sensory information. She pays attention, remembers words from rhymes, asks questions and understands cause and effect.
Social and emotional development: This means that she develops the ability to interact, engages in self-play and responds to hi, bye, come here and such interactive words.
Speech and language development: She starts to speak simple words and understand what you are speaking. Gradually she will be able to recognize and name parts of the body, fruits, vegetables, and others.
Fine motor skill development: It is a child’s ability to use small muscles. She will be able to turn pages, hold a spoon, use crayons to color and scribble.
Gross motor skill development: It involves the larger and stronger muscles of the body. She will attempt to run, have a good posture, throw a ball, pull a toy and kick a ball. These are just a few examples of what your child will learn during her toddlerhood phase. This is a very special phase for parents as it is the primitive phase of their child’s development and discovering what they are capable of doing.
There is a wide spectrum of activities you can do with your toddler. Nowadays there are various activity boxes available, that are designed according to age and differentiated on the basis of learning and skill development. They are designed on different themes and have a chat with them that helps you track the skill development weekly. You can subscribe for such boxes for your toddler.
But I would say that activity boxes are not a must buy. You can use simple stuff at home and engage your toddler and s/he will love those activities. Here are some activities for your toddler that you can easily DIY.
- Give a slice of any fruit or vegetable like apple, ladyfinger, etc and paint color. Let her make different patterns on a drawing sheet with this.
- Torn paper shape collage is a good activity to improve cognitive skills.
- Take a sheet and write 1 to 10 on it in big font. Ask your toddler to place the same number of beads or buttons in front of the number. This helps them to learn to count and aligning.
- Give her buttons of different color and encourage her to separate them on the basis of colors.
- Take a cardboard box and make a small hole in it. You can take any small stuff like earbuds and ask her to put those in the box through the hole. This encourages the development of fine motor skills.
- Take play dough and cookie cutter. Help her to cut different shapes of dough using the cooking cutter. This helps her to learn shapes and develops fine motor skills.
- Give her a muffin tray and rice. Tell her to fill the set with rice. This activity is helpful in developing hand-eye coordination.
- Write a big A (or any other alphabet) on drawing sheet and tell her to trace it with buttons.
These are a few activities that you can do for your toddler. Other than these activities, children love scribbling, playing with utensils, stacking up clothes and playing with food. These are unstructured activities. Such activities must also be encouraged for their cognitive skill development. You should also make sure that your child is able to self engage at times.
Things that parents can do:
- Talk to them even if you think she is unable to understand all the things you say. This way her vocabulary is enhanced.
- Use the mother tongue also while communicating. There is no better way to teach it.
- Read to her. Use expressions and hands while reading. If the story needs a certain voiceover, don’t hesitate.
- Go to the park or for a walk daily. Toddlers learn so much from their environment.
- Avoid saying ‘NO’. Toddlers have a fetish to do things they are denied.
- Reward them for good behavior or following your instructions. At this age, simple claps or a hug also works.
- Encourage her to explore and try new things.
- Point out different parts of the body and all random stuff in the house.
There are many activities that you can do with a toddler for developing the skills. But always remember that don’t overdo it or pressurize her for doing activities properly. Let her learn on her own pace and enjoy the toddlerhood.