Toddlers learn from playing! They are like sponges, they absorb anything and everything! They are constantly watching what people do and copying them. They are listening as well and we know that out of all of the words we say, if they hear a bad one, that is what they are going to repeat.
Since we know all of this, we should also know that toddlers can learn quite a bit through playing. They get physical while they are playing and they also learn how to use their fine motor skills. All of these are very important for toddlers. This is how they learn and grow.
A Recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics
There is a lot of speculation about how long a toddler should be in front of a television or computer screen, so let’s get that out of the way. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 2 and under should be in front of screens as little as possible. In fact, they would prefer it if they didn’t watch anything at all.
We all know technology is not just a major part of our present, but our future as well, making AAP’s recommendation nearly impossible, especially if a toddler has older siblings. With that being said, try to limit a toddlers’ screen time to a short show, maybe 20 minutes.
Options for Play with Your Toddler
There are so many other ways that toddlers learn and since they are never still for more than a few minutes at a time, it should be easy to keep them busy!
Take a Trip to the Playground
One of the things that you should do with your toddler every day is something physical and active. Go outside to take a walk or swing at the playground. Talk about what you see and hear with your toddler. Take advantage of the fact that your toddler notices everything! This is the best way to get them engaged and learning!
You can roll or throw a ball and even have them try to kick it. Most toddlers love to just run around like a crazy person, so let them do it! I bet you’ll have fun if you join them!
The National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends that toddlers get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity a day and at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity a day. That can add up to a lot of different ways for a toddler to get rid of some extra energy!
A toddler has lots of options for play when it comes to using their fine motor skills. They need to learn how to use their hands and fingers for picking items up and how to stack and build things. Show your toddler how to stack 2 or 3 blocks on top of each other and then show them how much fun it is to knock them down. It won’t be long before they can stack the blocks higher and higher.
Play Peek-a-Boo or Hide-and-Seek
Playing peek a boo and hide and seek with an object are two ways to show your toddler that people and objects do not disappear. If your toddler gets upset when you leave the room, try to play peek a boo with them.
They will learn that you are still there and will be back. The same will work when you hide an object. They will learn that the object is still around. It will help them with their memory skills too.
Read to Your Toddler
Reading to your toddler may not seem like play, but it is. Plus, they will learn so much from it!
You will find your child choosing their favorite book to read. You may get bored reading the same book, but your toddler won’t! They love hearing the same story again and again, because they are learning from it and actually memorizing it.
As your child gets older, he or she will most likely read the book on their own, simply because it gives them a sense of nostalgia and security, knowing this was something they once used to read with you. This is very similar to nursery rhymes, which if you remember, can possibly be something you remember from childhood. Reading a memorization are helpful ways to expand and improve children’s language skills.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are other ways that children can play and learn at the same time. There are so many products that are available if you don’t want to take a chance with the mess and having crayons and markers all over the house.
Sit down with your toddler and draw anything. Your toddler can draw scribbles and I bet you’ll think that it’s a masterpiece! They will work on their fine motor skills and have fun at the same time. As they continue to grow, you can introduce them to scissors and they can practice cutting paper into tiny pieces.
These are just some ways that you can play with your child and have them learn a lot at the same time. Don’t be afraid to try something new with your toddler or to use something in a new or different way. Plastic bowls and wooden spoons can become drums. Plastic cups and wadded up piece of foil can become a basketball game.
Every time your toddler picks something up to play with, encourage them! Unless of course they can get hurt with it! Use your imagination and let them use theirs and you’ll both have a lot of fun!