Every mum wants her tot to develop to the best of her ability, but does that mean devoting hours to teaching her her ABCs? Shouldn’t her early years be all about enjoying herself? Here’s how you do both with this guide.
Boosting tot’s communications skills
If you’re worried that other toddlers are saying their alphabet while yours is still talking gibberish, rest assured. Your toddler’s programmed to learn through repetition and copying, and there are some two- and three-year-olds who can say the alphabet. But they don’t understand what it means, and this can cause confusion later, when they’re ready to learn letter sounds.
With a very young child, concentrate on communication rather than literacy. Anything that helps her express herself and interact confidently with others will get her off to a flying start. Nursery rhymes, particularly those with actions, are great as they help your child understand words, actions and their meanings. Singing with her or in a group also helps her understand about interaction and getting a reaction from other people.
Sharing books together will also fire her enthusiasm for stories. From about the age of 2, your toddler may begin to pick books out herself and make up her own stories from the pictures.
A photo album telling the story of her life is also a great way to encourage your tot to make a beeline for the bookshelf. Giving her her own story to tell, which she knows and understands, is a great way to boost her communication skills.
Raising a math-savvy tot
Just as it’s a bad idea to ram the alphabet down your tot’s throat, it’s also inadvisable to introduce numbers too early. It’s much better to get your toddler used to numbers through play. When you’re cutting up fruit, you might count out the pieces, or when you’re shopping, you could count the fruit and vegetables as you put them in the bag. It’s also best to stick to numbers up to five.
Numeracy is about more than just numbers. Concepts such as bigger/smaller and empty/full are all part of understanding numbers, sizes, patterns and shapes. So, when your child’s in the bath, get her to tell you which beaker has more water in it, or talk about the patterns and shapes when you’re threading beads. Cooking is also a great activity for introducing values and quantities. Stick to simple recipes that measure the ingredients in cups. Your toddler can understand that you need two cups of flour and the cup has to be full to the top.
Explore art with tot
There are no boundaries when it comes to encouraging your toddler’s creativity. The trick is not to inhibit her by trying to structure her play too much or stopping her getting messy.
If your baby or younger toddler isn’t yet ready for drawing, try introducing sensory activities, such as water mixed with corn flour or playdough. Once your tot can hold a crayon, give her artistic temperament free reign with paints, paper and collage materials for sticking.
From about 15 months, your toddler develops role-play skills. This is when a dressing-up box - with hats, bags and keys - comes into its own. But to really let your tot’s creative side take off, keep it simple. Instead of recycling your cardboard boxes, give them to her to see what she makes of them. Elephant, house, bus - the possibilities are endless!