Every Child is different and so is every parent and their parenting style. I, being a mom of two year old, is not trying to put on expert comments here or impose my methods on any of the Parent. Before starting, I would like to say it to all the parents, would- be- parents, new parents and experienced parents- “You are doing Great”. Specially during this pandemic time. My only effort here is to share my experience and methods that worked for my child.
When I became mom, I was as anxious and worried a mom can be. And seeing my kid grow, explore things and trying to learn every now and then, gave me immense pleasure along with lots of anxiety and self-doubts. However, finding out from pediatrician and reading a lot about rights and wrongs, kept me going. I am still at a phase where, I see my little boy learn new things every other day. His curiosities and actions amaze me often.
They say, every mother-to-be frets over what might happen in the labor room and then when the baby is born they say, it is easier than raising them. And then, first year is fine and second year is terrible and what not. But, I personally think, this is an ongoing process. Being a mother or being a parent for that matter, is never ending process. Constant care and worries remain forever.
In this blog I would be talking about certain learning/educational activities, which helped my kid & might help other moms too to consider.
What goes inside toddler’s brain ?
Almost every parent’s brain is trying to find out what is going in their kid’s brain? Why is he constantly nagging, why is he trying to repeat the same rhyme again and again? Why is he scratching my face? or why is he laughing and screaming simultaneously? And the biggest problem is, they can’t tell you yet.
Babies are born ready to learn. However, they depend on parents, or caregivers to develop the right skills to become independent and lead healthy and successful lives. As per science, the initial days of brain development are fascinating because all of a toddler tiny little brain is developing faster as the thoughts are forming and coming together. The brain doesn’t grow in the exact same way as the rest of the body.
With different stages come different challenges and difficulties. Some kids learn easily, while some take their own sweet time. Be it, weening, eating habits, crawling/walking, potty training, self soothing or speech.
Most kids develop certain skills as they move through the early stages of learning language. From birth to age 3, most babies and toddlers become able to recognize :
- Voice of parents, or care givers
- Imitate the sounds or tone that adults use while talking.
- Respond to facial expressions and gestures,
- Play along in games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”.
- Recognize objects from the book.
- Talk about characters in books.
- Recognize alphabets and numbers.
- Listen to stories and much more..
But they don’t yet understand why’s of most things and what alphabets and numbers mean.
What helped my Toddler the most in developing his skills (still working)
Books : Parents start to read to their babies during pregnancy itself. It’s never too early. Babies recognize their mother’s voice in the womb. Your baby won’t understand your words, but hearing your voice stimulates an interest in sounds and helps him develop listening skills. Honestly I did not read to my baby when I was pregnant. I would rather sing for him.
I started to show him baby books when he was around 9 months or so. Initially, all he use to do was chew on to the covers(due to teething) and freak me out. Later, I learnt the only key is patience here. When my boy was 16 – 17 months, I started reading to him and teach him a little. He started to recognize objects pretty easily . Even before when one he knew the the ‘duck says -quack quack’ and recognize his rubber duckie learnt animal names and their sounds. There were several other incidences also, which showed his keen interest in learning .
Besides books, and toys, his learning process also includes regular interactions with both his mommy and daddy, repeating the same rhyme over and over again, making funny faces and sounds to keep him engaged and entertained. Phew!! totally drains out our energy and patience level.
Puzzles played a vital role in his learning and development. His first puzzle was pretty simple chunky board puzzle. Easy to pick, and place. He learnt basic shapes and colors from those. His excitement to play with his puzzles every day made me realize his interest in puzzles. I got some more with alphabets and numbers . Further, I got him one level up puzzles, which included, pictures with alphabets. He loved it.
His current favorite is joining two pieces which is a little more complex puzzle and help him concentration and problem solving.
I would like to throw some more light on how puzzles helps in brain development.
How do Puzzles help a child’s development?
Puzzles help develop hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills due to the precise nature of matching each piece exactly. It also helps develop basic skills such as shape recognition, concentration, goal setting, patience and a sense of achievement. Also critical thinking, judgement, visual-perceptual skills and memory are all tested with a puzzle and can help the child to improve his skills.
Puzzles are a great way to help children’s brain function properly later in life.
PS:It is alright if you call me careless or bad mommy, but I gave him screen time as well. It was TV only, no mobile or iPads though. He started when he was some 20-21 months old, he learnt most of the Rhymes from TV. Of course I made him sing during non screen hours and sang along. Like most moms and experts, Screen time is Strict no no for children below 2 years, but I must tell you, when you live in America and you have no help, a little screen time is a life saver, to engage your child while you are busy in chores or work. And the moms who were in same situation but didn’t give their kids even a little bit of screen time, Yayy!! you score better..ha ha..!!
If you have similar experiences and more activities to share with, please do write in the comments section. Do share your toddler’s favorite activity which has helped them learn and grow.