Playing With Your Toddler
Toddlers are just starting to discover how this big, exciting and complicated world works, using their bodies to explore everything from the kitchen floor to the sandbox.
Being in full discovery mode gives your toddler even more opportunities to engage his senses. The brain’s processes for learning are enhanced when multiple senses are stimulated, as compared with the use of just one sense, so now playtime can contribute even more to his cognitive growth.
Your toddler learns to communicate better with gestures, sounds and words. In addition, he is learning to stand on two feet and walk forwards and backwards. Even better, soon he’ll be running, jumping and climbing. He’ll also use his fingers and hands to explore in more complex ways (so make sure you are ready for some exercise).
Every child has a different style of exploring. Some toddlers are very action oriented. Others will enjoy a calmer play and get greater pleasure from quiet playtime. Try a few of the games recommended below and see what works best for your toddler.
Running, Climbing and Action Games
Classic games like “Ring Around the Rosie” and “London Bridge” are games that most children enjoy and encourage them to move, sing, listen, take turns and cooperate. As always, going to the park, playground and play dates in the backyard provide opportunities to run, climb and play with other children. On a rainy day, try creating an obstacle course indoors or building a tent and telling a story.
Let’s Do It Again…and Again…and Again
Repetition is how toddlers figure out how things work and fit together. He may fill a box with toys and dump them out repeatedly to comprehend full and empty and in and out. In addition, your toddler may want to hear the same story over and over or sing the same song again and again. This type of repetition helps your child to know what to expect and provides a sense of security and control. Even better, it helps them to master new skills and boosts their self-confidence.
Name That Tune
As your child learns through imitation, he’ll enjoy singing songs and having you read books with words that rhyme. Words are easier to learn when they rhyme or are put to music. To engage your toddler, try pausing a song. Does he know the next words? Dance to the music with him and exercise his legs and arms. This is a wonderful way to help him express himself and experience the freedom of movement.
A large part of exploring for toddlers is discovering how to make things work. Toddlers use their fingers and hands to push buttons, put things into boxes and dump the box, and turn pages. Knowing how to push and pull allows your toddler to play music and enjoy a treasured book. In addition, your toddler may also enjoy finger painting, coloring, playing with dough or squeezing water from a sponge.