How can child care boost your toddler's development? Take a look at two of the primary developmental areas (cognitive and physical development) and how the early learning environment can impact each one.
Your curious toddler wants nothing more than to explore. As your child transitions from infancy to the toddler years, they'll do more than explore through their senses. Even though they'll continue to touch, listen to, smell, see, and sometimes even taste almost everything in the world around them, your toddler will begin to use a more intellectual approach to exploration.
Cognitive development during the toddler years includes increases in problem-solving, memory-related tasks, and sequencing. To help build these budding mental reasoning skills, daycare activities may include:
- Puzzles. Three to four piece puzzles with easy-to-grip, colorful, and engaging parts can help your child to develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills.
- Story time. Interactive story times give toddlers the chance to develop sequencing (beginning, middle, and end of the narrative) and early literacy abilities.
- Dress-up. While your toddler may not engage in complex dress-up activities (they will as a preschooler), this type of pretend play encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
Talk to your toddler's teacher about the specific classroom activities they use to build cognitive skills. You can repeat or adapt these for at-home learning times.
Your toddler isn't a master of balance or dexterity. But they are building gross (large muscle) and fine (small muscle) skills by the day. Now that your child can walk unassisted, they may start to run, kick a ball, or roll a ball. Fine motor skill development during the toddler time include basic hand and finger skills, such as pointing, grasping, or picking up tools, toys, or other materials.
To help build physical skills, a toddler daycare program may include activities such as:
- Creative movement. This type of gross motor activity gives toddlers the chance to explore movement, build balance, and strengthen large muscle groups. Not only will this help your child to increase physical skills, but it also encourages creativity and cognitive development.
- Finger painting. The visual arts provide plenty of ways for the young child to develop fine motor skills such as eye-hand-coordination and dexterity. Visual arts can also help them to build a new art vocabulary as they explore through their senses.
- Block play. These activities may only include two or three blocks at a time. Your toddler can grasp and manipulate objects during block play.
When you talk to the daycare teacher about cognitive activities, ask about physical gross and fine motor play. You can also try some of these fun-filled learning ideas at home at the end of each daycare day.