Activities to Help Early Learning in Toddlers
A child’s brain is most receptive during the first three years of life and early learning can have a fundamental impact on future growth, health and happiness. Experts believe that social and learning experiences during these formative stages help to shape the brain’s architecture and provide a foundation for future development and functioning. A balance of attention, love, encouragement and stimulation will ensure a child can grow and develop, which is why early learning activities are so important.
Role play for children
Role play is generally defined as learning through play and it is one of the most simple, fun and exciting ways for a child to learn different skills, ideas, feelings and cultures. To set up a role play game with your child, create a safe zone and let them play with their friends while keeping close supervision. A selection of the most popular role play activities for preschoolers, including dressing up, will hone their motor skills development by encouraging them to make their own choices, and greengrocer, which will increase their familiarity with healthy food choices through vegetables and fruit.
Sing vocabulary words
Word games are great for vocabulary skills so you could create unique tunes with rhyming words for numbers, the alphabet, days of the weeks and body parts. According to literacy expert, Pam Allyn, children learn around nine words a day before they are capable of reading, and parents can improve this rate by coming up with catchy songs. She adds: “Parents have a better chance of making this happen if they create worlds for kids that are like dream catchers’ nets, capturing beautiful words and the sounds of them.” These songs can also be taught to babysitters and grandparents to increase their effectiveness.
The river walk is great for helping children aged between 24 to 36 months to better understand shapes and colors while developing problem solving skills. Begin by cutting out different shapes such as triangles, squares and circles from colored paper and scattering them on the floor at random. You should also tape them down to ensure they don’t slip or slide from pressure. The aim of the game is to get from one side of the room to the other by only stepping on the shapes. You can make this more challenging later on by limiting them to only circles or squares. A similar game called “frogs on a lily pad” involves children hopping across large green colored circles. Both of these games will develop creative thinking, imagination and motor skills.
Physical play time is just as important so create a tunnel with an open ended cardboard box or other structure for your child to funnel through. This will give them key spatial awareness skills. While basic activities of this kind are beneficial, a multi-faceted activity center can really ignite their imagination and promote better emotional, physical, mental and social skills. A baby play gym of all ages 0+, for example, includes a myriad of developmental activities so toddlers can have fun and learn while either sitting up or on their back or tummy.
Getting to grips with size, shapes and patterns will improve a child’s familiarity with mathematical concepts. Some other important early math skills include recognizing numerals, counting verbally, identifying different quantities and understanding matching sets and groups. Building on a child’s natural curiosity and making activities fun is critical for keeping youngsters interested in math. A selection of games excellent for two to three year olds include:
- Count and sort – Get a basket of small objects such as marbles or toys and count them out with your child and then sort them based on color, size and function.
- Picture time – Use a mobile app timer, stopwatch or hourglass to time different short activities. This will help to develop a sense of time and show children that some activities take longer to complete than others.
- Graphing games – Keeping track of variables such as the amount of times it does and doesn’t rain during a week using stickers, can help children to count and determine which column has more or less at the end.
- Touch learning – Cut shapes out from thick cardboard and let your child touch them with them with their eyes closed. You can also let them arrange small objects into different designs, patterns and shapes. Remember to always supervise during these activities.
There is a near limitless amount of fun and exciting activities that can stimulate a child’s hunger for learning from an early age. Giving your child every opportunity to develop and grow through these activities will provide them with the best platform from which to improve their cognitive functions and socio-emotional abilities as they go to school and move through childhood.