Nowadays, you can’t get through a single spin on the merry-go-round without hearing about the latest in overachievement for tots– a toddler DJ class in New York, a yoga class for preschoolers in LA. There’s a lot of pressure on kids to perform these days, at an increasingly young age. Be sure to have a boy’s dress suit or a girl’s dress on hand at all times- who knows when they’ll need to dress to impress.
But anyone can get their kids on the right track, with educational activities designed to prepare toddler brains for the gamut of preschool challenges.
Breaking things up and putting them back together is a great way for toddlers to expand their understanding of shapes and colors. You can cut up anything – a drawing, a picture, a couple of dry pasta noodles – and show your toddler how to put them back together. With cut up picture, you’ll have an easy puzzle. Use the pasta noodle fragments to show your child how to create different shapes.
Toddlers are just starting to grasp the concept of objects belonging in a certain place. Now is a great time to start explaining where everything belongs, especially toys. Of course, they might not grasp the concept immediately, but be sure to lavish them with praise when they do put a building block back in the toy chest.
The building blocks to success
Building is a great way to develop your toddler’s sense of spatial relationships. You can use plastic blocks and other toys, but young children are equally fascinated by utilitarian items. (Remember when they ignored the toy and played with packaging instead?). Cardboard boxes are a great way to let those imaginative juices flow. A big enough box could be a rocket ship, a castle, a sail boat, and a great hiding place when it’s almost bedtime.
Introduce the joys of a pillow fort. Use couch cushions and blankets to make a fort. Your child can use the fort for climbing, destroying, and building again. Change a rectangle fort to a triangle teepee, for some practice recognizing shapes.
Mirror, Mirror, on the wall – Who’s the cutest of them all?
Me, that’s who! Mirrors are essential to children learning to distinguish themselves as a distinct person. Babies look in a mirror and think, “Who’s that other baby?” Toddlers are starting to realize that button-nose looks awfully familiar. Put your toddler in front of a mirror and watch as they discover their earliest identity, all by themselves.