Your little one is probably adding a new skill every day. Encourage your toddler’s progress with these fun activities!

COGNITIVE

Roll a ball back and forth. It helps improve his depth perception, visual tracking ability, and hand-eye coordination—and teaches him about turn-taking.

Puzzle it out. Guide your toddler as he works simple three- or four-piece jigsaws. Or place squares, circles, and triangles into matching slots.

Creative art projects are wonderful means of self-expression. They help kids develop spatial awareness and problem-solving skills, which will be essential for understanding mathematical concepts later on. Toddlers enjoy colouring to finger painting to playing with clay. Be watchful, they may be tempted to put art materials in their mouths.

Limit screen time.That includes TV, computers, and other devices. Very short periods are fine, but the majority of his play should be active, face-to-face interactions with real people and tactile experiences with his toys and environment.

 

MOTOR

Get out and about. Come rain or shine, build outdoor playtime into your toddler’s daily schedule. He needs lots of opportunities to run, climb, and explore.

Ride a trike. Once your toddler has been walking and running for a few months, he can try a beginner’s tricycle. Get him a snug-fitting helmet so in time he will be ready for a two-wheeler.

Encourage finger movement. Latch boards with knobs, levers, and locks are well suited for little hands to manipulate. Dolls and animals should have functioning buttons, zippers, and snaps.

Let him be a page-turner. As you read, he turns pages. Have your child practice his fine motor skills by page turning.

Sing songs that involve hand and body motions. There are plenty of classics to choose from: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” “Where Is Thumbkin,” “This Little Piggy,” and “Hokey Pokey,” to name a few.

 

 

COMMUNICATION

Keep on talking. Talking—and responding—to your toddler is one of the best things you can do to boost his communication skills and intelligence. Researchers have consistently found a strong correlation between the sheer number of words a child hears from parents and other caregivers by age 3, with both IQ and performance in school.

Explain and affirm. This type of elaboration will help stimulate his thought processes. If he says, “Truck,” say, “Yes, that was a fast blue truck, wasn’t it?” If he says, “I drive truck,” you might say, “Yes, you would like to drive a big, fast, red truck like a fire fighter, wouldn’t you? Fire fighters put out fires.”

Create an album. Focus on familiar, everyday items—the dinner table, a laundry basket, your car, and so on cut out pictures from magazines to use photos taken with your smartphone, and label each image. Go through the pages and get your toddler to name what he sees.

SOCIAL

Show your affection. Give lots of hugs to your child; to give a sense of security and boost self-confidence.

React neutrally to tantrums. At this stage, reasoning, cajoling, and over-empathizing are unlikely to be effective. Your child will slowly learn to use words and self-control when he’s upset, but for now, the less interest you show in his tantrums, the more quickly they’ll pass.

Praise good behaviour whenever he has behaved well in public, or while playing with a friend. Your loving words and hugs are positive reinforcement enough.

Make clean-up fun. Time how many blocks you can pick up together in three minutes. Or sing a fun song while you tidy. Toddlers like to be helpful. Making a game of clean-up makes it an enjoyable part of play.

Encourage socializing. Play dates and gatherings. Your toddler should interact with other kids his age. If he’s not in day care, consider joining a playgroup or organizing regular get-togethers with friends who have children his age. A group of three or four is good enough.