Toddler Play and Learn: 7 Toddler Development Activities

Toddler Play

Toddlers Learn through play. As a parent, it is important to know play is a kid’s version of work. Play is universal. All young children and animals alike, experience the world through play. Play is also the most constructive time for children. Use my guide for some wonderful ideas for your toddler to experience play time and development. Let’s dive deeper into understanding the importance of your toddler learning through play.

Toddler Play and Learn

Toddler play and learn

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Play is an essential part of growing up. To Play and Learn go hand in hand for Toddlers.  In animals, researchers have actually observed brain connections expanding during periods of play. Researchers also believe that free play is critical for children’s growth and future performance! Read on to help your toddler experience the world through Toddler Play and Learn Activities!

In a Competitive world, emphasis should be placed on your Toddler Play and Learn

In our fast-paced society, many parents today may consider play time a waste of time. In our competitive world, high performance standards may be adding pressure to your young child. Toddlers must experience the world around them to be able to perform intellectually, socially, and developmentally.

I recently watched a TED talk about this exact issue. The speaker mentioned the two sides we normally experience: ‘training mode’ and ‘performance mode’. He went on to say how much our society focuses on ‘performance mode’, yet never leaves opportunity and acceptance for ‘training mode’.

I have heard my fellow mom friends mention how much pressure and competition their older children experience: in sports, classes, recreational activities, clubs… even in artistic classes.

Especially as high school and college nears, these students must constantly perform at excellent standards. My friend mentioned her daughter never felt that she could ask questions in class. She felt the pressure to know everything.

We should emphasize more self-awareness in the moment. We should respect the process and time it takes to develop, grow and learn. And focus less on ‘training to take tests’. This tone needs to be set as a toddler. Your toddler should have the encouragement and ability to learn through free play.

Build Self-esteem While Your Toddler Plays and Learns

During independent play time, toddlers do not experience adults telling them what to do.  They can make up their own rules, their own ideas and their own definition of success.  They may also feel more free to fail… and try again and again.

In their games, toddlers are the big fish in the small pond. When they play, they have no frustration of being small and powerless. No one is telling them what to do and when to do it. Without adult interference, they can call the shots and make the choices.

With only the limits of their own imagination, toddlers feel free to experience the world.  Through their imagination, they build confidence and creativity.

I love to watch my toddler, Harry play on his own. I watch from a safe distance and sip my morning tea as he enjoys his play kitchen or his toy box. It is amazing how much time he can dedicate to focusing on the activity he is involved in. I have watched him for 30-45 minutes without him even realizing I am not right next to him.

These play experiences have given him much more independence. He jabbers, giggles, creates and inspires himself. And I know he is having so much fun imagining and creating in his own little toddler world!

Help to Build Social Skills during Toddler Play and Learn

Before your toddler ever speaks a word, they learn the very basic skills to begin socializing. Playing prepares him for social activities.

Teddy bears, dolls and stuffed animals are your toddler’s first play mates. They can practice their interactive skills on their toys!

I love hearing Harry have full ‘conversations‘ with his stuffed animals. These toddler conversations will form foundations for his future. Through these independent play times toddlers may gain the abilities of patience, sharing, advocating and connecting!

Studies also show that children whose parents play with them ultimately do better socially!

Here are some great ideas for sensory play for you & your toddler to experience together: click to downloadSensory Play Recipes_ copy

Toddler Play and Learn to Build Real-Life Skills

Play and Learn activities may improve real-life skills through toddlers’ imagination. They may develop important skills for: cooking, care-taking, technology, management, artistry, problem-solving, and even Engineering.

Try to expose your toddler to versatile toys and activities. You never know what they may spark for your child’s development and future interests!

My sister-in-law also told me that she read a study that stated the best toys for child development may be the ones that do not make noise or light up. Interesting. I can definitely understand this theory. I can see that more traditional toys (aka: non-battery operated) may increase his own imagination and spark more intelligence and creativity.

Spark Language Development with Toddler Play and Learn

During play, children utilize so many words. Some may be spoken, others may be in his own head. He is visualizing an item and correlating the proper vocabulary for that item. Play fosters language development.

As you play, repeat each item over and over to your child: “Spoon, Spoon.” Use it in a sentence, explain what it is for. “Mix the soup with the spoon. We use the spoon to eat… this spoon is small…” 

I think this is very easy, especially when he is genuinely interested in the item already. As I’ve said, Harry adores his little play kitchen. He also loves to watch me cook on the real stove and shows great interest when we food shop.

I like to focus on elaborating on items that he is already drawn to and see where that develops! Maybe your kiddo loves dinosaurs, or puzzles, or dolls. I am sure you could ramble off a dozen sentences about one object without much trouble!

Toddler Play and Learn allows children to work through Big Feelings

Play allows children to work through so many emotions. Sometimes they may feel anxiety, fear, let-down, anger and sadness. Role-play with toys may be a wonderful release for your toddler to express and work through the complex feelings they do not yet understand.

Some children may also feel satisfied taking care of something else for once. In real life toddlers never have the power. For your toddler, it is scary to go to the doctor. But your toddler may feel less anxiety and fear if he takes care of teddy as you are in the waiting room.

As adults, we use these same tactics. I will imagine how a particular night will go if I am feeling anxiety over an upcoming situation. Some adults may visualize and rehearse giving a successful presentation in the business world. It is even encouraged to prepare your speech for a meeting or big ceremony!

Toddlers Develop Fine Motor Skills and Active Skills during Toddler Play and Learn

They develop better hand-eye coordination, as well as dexterity of their fingers. They may learn to balance toys and blocks, stack little cups and complete a simple puzzle. Some toddlers enjoy coloring with crayons.  This will also prepare them for walking, running, jumping, climbing, hopping, dancing, and building balance and coordination.

In Summary, Toddler’s Play is work. Time spent playing is worthwhile work. Encourage your child to enjoy independent play time to develop so many skills your toddler will need in the future. Your child is Learning through Play!

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