Ever wondered what’s going on in your toddler’s head? A lot, is the simple answer. According to infant-development experts the first years of a child’s life is when they are primed to learn. From colours, sounds, smells, movements and touch, they are literally soaking up the richness of their environment like little sponges. As parents it’s our job to enhance their experience and knowledge. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about square-root lullabies or the three Rs. Instead, it’s much more important for bub to learn through play. Here are five fun brain-boosting activities for toddlers.
Brain-boosting activities for toddlers #1: Block play
Every toddler should have a set of building blocks. It’s the law. Well, it’s not the law… but it should be! Building blocks are like the motherload when it comes to educational toys. First up, they help to improve fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. Secondly, they’re important for socials skills and developing confidence, as your tot will feel a sense of achievement when they learn how to stack them. Thirdly, building blocks teach concepts such as size, making matches and how to order objects. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education  showed that preschoolers who were skilled at playing with building blocks had higher math grades when they got to middle school, than those who were not.
Brain-boosting activities for toddlers #2: Counting games
Relax, we’re not talking Pythagoras’ Theorem here, more Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, or any other number-based songs you can think of. When you sing to bub, hold up your fingers and show him how the numbers change with each verse: ‘Now there are four/three/two/one little monkeys jumping on the bed’. Also, try to incorporate counting throughout the day, whether it be counting how many blocks your toddler can stack, the stairs up to bed, the ducks as your pop them in the bath, or his fingers and toes. If you make a habit of it, he’ll soon join in.
Brain-boosting activities for toddlers #3: Messy play
Whether you choose paint, bubbles, or a sand and water table, by allowing your tot to freely investigate different textures and materials you’re helping him to develop and refine his hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. Studies also show that sensory play improves language skills as it encourages children to use descriptive and expressive words when talking about objects.
Brain-boosting activities for toddlers #4: Talk, talk and talk
A study from Stanford University shows that babies and toddlers raised in high-language households have a better grasp of language at an earlier age than children raised in low-language households . If you feel a little silly babbling to a toddler who rarely answers you back, try singing songs or reading stories, or pick up one of his toys and talk to him about it, using certain words repeatedly. For example, ‘Look at bunny. Look at him hop, hop, hop’. Click here for more tips on how to help your baby to talk.
Brain-boosting activities for toddlers #5: Explore new surroundings
Toddlers love to explore new surroundings and it doesn’t need to be at an expensive soft play area. Instead take him shopping next time you visit the supermarket. The faces, sounds and colours provide a lot of great stimulation. You can also try swapping things around at home, by moving his highchair to the other side of the kitchen, or bringing his toys into another room. These might seem like minor changes to you, but to your toddler this is a way to challenge his memory of where things are placed.