From bedtime to playtime your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills -- and your family connections. Want weekly ideas too? Sign up for Bloom Bright and have them sent right to your phone as texts!
Allow your child space and time to play alone, while safely supervising them. Learning to play alone is the beginning stage of learning to play with others! It can be hard not to jump in to help all the time, but having the chance to explore toys independently helps your toddler grow.
Fill a box with items for children to explore, all connecting to a theme. You can pick items with interesting textures. Or perhaps you want to explore the seasons with leaves, gloves or rainy-day items. As your child plays, encourage him to to describe how each item feels, what it is and how we use it. Use your own describing words to help build his!
GIVE ME A CHOICE
Build early independence by giving your child the chance to make simple choices. “Would you like to wear the orange or yellow shirt?” Then, encourage your child to do things for herself. “Look at you putting your arm in your shirt.” Adding choices and talking about the impact of their actions helps build a sense of self!
BUILD FEELING SKILLS
Acknowledge your child’s feelings when times are tough. “I can see that you are upset. It is hard to wait for your turn.” This lets them know that you care about how they feel. It also helps them learn feeling words.
YESTERDAY, TODAY & TOMORROW
Your little one thrives on routines! They provide a sense of order during a period of rapid growth. But they can also be fun! Add a little silly to routines for hand washing, saying goodbye or bedtime. “We will dance to your favorite song, and then it’s time for brushing teeth!” “When it’s time for dad to leave at drop off, don’t forget to push him out the door!”
ACT IT OUT
Pretend play helps your child identify his own feelings. Use baby dolls or stuffed animals to pretend. “The baby is crying. Do you think she is hungry or sad? Let’s pick her up and comfort her.”
Mirror Mirror On The Wall…
Be playful with you little one! Look together into a large mirror. “Who do you see? Look! It’s me Daddy! Where is my baby Mika? There you are!” Encourage your child to point and identify both of you, one at a time. Explore more by talking about face parts: noses, mouths, ears and eyes.
Make A List
Let your child make his own list—shopping list, grocery list, list of favorite toys. Provide crayons and paper, and expect lots of scribbles and marks. “I am writing my grocery list. Here is paper and pencil for you to use for yours. What should we buy at the store?”
Make It Last A Little Longer
After reading a story, ask simple questions or make short statements about the story. “Does the baby like to splash in the water? Look at his smile!” or “Where did they go? That’s right, to Grandma’s house!”
BOOKS, BOOKS EVERYWHERE!
Bring along familiar books on trips. Ask your child to “read or tell” the book to you. “I can’t read it right now. Can you read it to me?” or “Please tell me what happens in the book!”
REPEAT AFTER ME!
Your child loves playing with sounds and words, so play along with them! Repeat words or sounds they make. Make it a game that you play together.
READ IT AGAIN!
Reading leads to noticing! The more you talk about the books you are reading the more your little one notices too. “Look! There is another star on this page, and here are the words I am reading to you.”
Just like you would with a friend, wait for your child to respond to your question or statement. This is a great way to show them how conversation flows! It’s also great to model this all the time by asking questions. Even when all you get are sweet babbles, your child is learning important skills.
Waving goodbye to friends during departure increases your child’s communication skills. Use gestures or simple signed words to match the words you are using.
TALK TO ME
Make everyday activities a time for learning language! Sing or talk about what you are doing. “We are going to wash our hands with soap. Oh, look at all the bubbles you made.”