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you’ve discovered anything about your toddler you know that
they love to play! It is important that tots have the opportunity
to play and interact while they are small. Playing should encourage
creativity, imagination, social skills and can even help with hand-eye
coordination. You can find games that are ready-made, or make up
your own. Sometimes little one’s will even come up with their
own form of play, this can be a lot of fun to watch and if you’re
creative enough, participate in!
How do you encourage play? There isn’t one
set answer to this question but providing many opportunities for
play is a good start. Some essential things to have in your home
consist of building blocks, Tupperware that’s easily accessible,
books, and more books, a play area with balls, puzzles, and coloring
supplies. Having things available for your toddler is the first
step, but you don’t want to overwhelm him or her. Keeping
just a few activities out at a time is a good idea, otherwise the
toddler could start taking the activities for grated, and lose interest
before they’ve even begun playing with them.
Be encouraging of your toddlers ideas. Toddlers
love building, and this is a great activity. So whether their creating
a town out of blocks or “building” a tent with your
sheets and pillows allowing them to do their project will develop
an active, creative person. When the weather is warm it’s
a great time to play outside in a sandbox, on a swing set or even
in a tree house. Always stay with your child or have an adult supervising
outdoor and indoor play.
You may want your toddler to have some contact
with others her age. Playgroups are a super way to get little ones
together once a week for fun with each other. Playgroups build socialization
skills that help your toddler learn things like sharing, waiting
their turn, as well as finding new ways to express themselves and
their creative ideas. Finding or forming a playgroup may take a
little time on your part. Start in the neighborhood. Are there other
parents with toddlers? If so just talking to them and making a play
date is a good start. How you decide to work your playgroup is up
to you. Some parents like taking the children to the park, others
designate a home and take turns “leading” the playgroup.
It’s entirely up to you and your schedule and style.
One of the most important things you can do as
a parent is read to your toddler. The recommended reading time is
a minimum of 20 minutes a day. After meals your toddler will probably
be a little tired, this is a great time to pull out a stack of books
and sit down to read together. Reading opens up new worlds, gives
the toddler a greater vocabulary to express her or his ideas, and
fuels the imagination. The benefits of reading with your little
one cannot be overstated.
Since toddlers have individual personalities try
taking your cues from her. Some toddlers are happy to sit and color
or put together a puzzle while others like to be very active. Whatever
you do make sure they are having fun. The learning, at this stage,
will come on it’s own through enjoyable play.
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