Free activities to learn and bond with your toddler
A child’s first years are filled with milestones. Babies learn to coordinate movement, communicate, and imitate, not to mention crawl, walk, and run. Their brains are little sponges absorbing all the senses and experiences around them. Their hands and feet explore. Speech develops. A parent’s interaction and early childhood education draw out a child’s curiosities and praise their accomplishments. Here are some free learning activities that will nurture bonds with your infant or toddler.
Motor skills. Games like patty-cake and ‘so big’ teach infants hand-eye coordination. Babies learn to control their movements through strength and response.
Sensory. Touching different textures and seeing new patterns and pictures help infants develop their sensory skills. Kids love to squeeze items and hear noises. They learn stimulus and response, action and result.
Exercise. Simple parent-baby exercises get both of you moving together and enjoying some relaxing time. Babies learn to grab and hold, toss, squeeze, and control movements.
Age 1 year
As babies turn one year old, their focus goes to more gross motor and language skills. Studies have also shown that early childhood programs beginning at this age can dramatically improve a child’s academic success in later years.
Read. Your toddler is developing mental strength as well as muscular strength. Vocabulary will begin to form. Read often. Expose your child to all types of words and pictures.
Stack anything! Kids this age are also curious. They will try new “tricks” and claim a bit of independence as this year goes by. They want to see reactions, so building and climbing will be a part of every hour.
Explore food. Kids will try new things as they develop. They also like to squeeze, touch, taste, smell, and squish. Allow them room to explore foods that are healthy and fun.
Age 2 years
Be active. At this age, it’s move, move, move. Tunnels, hills, hide-and-seek, catch. All of these games keep kids active and learning large motor skills and endurance.
Be creative. Crayons, markers, and paper start to hold a kid’s attention at age 2. Try simple art projects with all kinds of materials: string, glue, tissue paper, pipe cleaners.
Let them help. Kids this age want to be involved. They can set a table, sweep with a small broom, dust with a cloth, or wash a surface. Let them help – even if it’s not really a time saver for you.
Age 3 years
Take turns. Kids this age like to get their way. Play games that teach them to take turns, follow along, and listen. Games like Follow the Leader and Duck Duck Goose teach rules and patience.
Explore. Remember lying on the grass watching clouds take shape? Enjoy that time again with your 3-year-old. They will see shapes so differently than you!
Memory. Challenge kids to match visually and remember. Go beyond the game board and use memory games to explore and find your way back on a walk.
The early years are formative. Nurture early childhood education through experiences and memories. After all, an afternoon of exploring and puddle jumping is fun and FREE!
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