8 Ways Toddlers Can Learn Through Play

8 Ways Toddlers Can Learn Through Play

Learn how to promote your toddler’s development and help him continue to reach important milestones.

By the time your baby turns a year old, he will have mastered a wide variety of social, speech and motor skills. The next year of his life is also an important time in his development. He’ll become a toddler, taking his first steps if he hasn’t already. Then he’ll start to explore and interact more with the world around him. His vocabulary will expand along with his desire to communicate with others.

Of course, every child develops at his or her own pace. But parents should be aware of the milestones their children should reach by a certain age to ensure that their progress stays on track. They should also learn how to encourage their children’s development through reading and educational play, and by setting a positive example.

How parents can help

The best way to encourage your child’s development is to spend a lot of time reading to her, playing with her and talking to her about the world around her. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Send her on a hunt. Ask your toddler to find a few of her favorite toys and bring them to you. Praise her when she gets it right, and help her out when she doesn’t.
  • Sing together. Choose songs in which he can join in by saying the name of a body part (or pointing to one) or by making an animal sound.
  • Encourage imaginative play. Fill a box with dress-up clothes and hats, play food, dolls and more. Show her how to play pretend.
  • Play ball. Practice throwing and rolling a ball back and forth. Use balls of different sizes, shapes and colors and describe them while you play: “Can you catch the red ball? Please throw me the little ball.”
  • Blow bubbles. Your child will love extending a finger to pop them as they fall. This can help him learn to point at things.
  • Build block towers. Count them out while she stacks them, and then say “One, two, three!” before letting her knock them down.
  • Go for walks. While you’re out, talk about everything you see. Ask your child to point to familiar animals or plants. “Where is the tree? Do you see the dog?” Talk about the weather. Pick up fallen leaves and let him touch them while you describe how they feel.
  • Use finger paints. Cover her up in a big smock and let her go to town with nontoxic finger paints. You can use paper or have her paint directly on a high-chair tray if the paints are washable. Have fun with edible paint, too: try tinting vanilla pudding with food coloring.
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