Develop your toddler’s learning skills
- Play, play, play. Regular, varied play helps tots learn to experiment, solve problems and think for themselves.
- Get out and about. Trips to the park or playground will let your little one try out new environments.
- Have a natter. Chatting with your child allows them to learn new words and practice conversation.
- Get messy. Finger paints, play dough, water, sand and digging help build your tot’s fine motor skills.
- Read little and often. Street signs, cereal packs, and billboards all offer the chance to learn new words.
Ways to get your child ready for nursery
- Encourage skills like putting her coat on, feeding herself, finding her shoes, etc. This will boost self-confidence.
- Good eye contact when your toddler talks shows what she says is worthwhile and will help communication skills.
- Socialising regularly with other children. Short two-hour playdates can help build friendships for shy toddlers.
- Build a quiet hour into your child’s day, without TV or music, so they can develop listening skills to cope in a busy class setting.
- Share books as often as you can so she gets a head start on the early skills of reading.
Potty training – signs that your toddler is ready
- He’ll become aware of having a wet nappy some time between 18 months and 3 years of age.
- He might run off when you suggest a nappy change or pull it off when you’ve put it on.
- He goes quiet or stands still when having a wee, as he makes connections between the sensations.
- Independence with getting dressed can mean he’s got the co-ordination to pull down his pants – key in potty training.
- He’ll be curious about what happens in the loo and might ask to see you when you go. It’s good to let him accompany you, even though it’s less peaceful!
Potty training – tips for success
- Wait until your child shows signs he’s ready for the potty. These include telling you he needs a new nappy, taking off his dirty one, or going quiet while weeing.
- Expect it to take a few weeks before you see real progress. If your child isn’t getting the idea, stop. Try again in a few weeks.
- Teach your tot how to get his pants up and down.
- Ensure his clothing is light and easily washable and it’s easy to take on and off. Accidents will happen.
- Make a fuss about every successful use of the potty, no matter how small, and ignore times when accidents happen. Just quietly clean up. Success will come!
Boost your toddler’s independence
- Praise all efforts at doing things for himself. Even if eating is messy or shoes are on the wrong feet, he will get better with practice and praise.
- Set small goals that he can hit. Getting into the buggy himself, or finding his beaker, for example.
- Give him some choice, like the colour of his T-shirt, or which toy to carry.
- Allow extra time for him to do things like putting on his coat and shoes.
- Ask for his opinions. Be interested in what he says, giving lots of eye contact to make him feel valued.
Helping your toddler make friends
- Let her mix with others as much as possible, as it’s the best way for your toddler to learn about friendships.
- Get out with her regularly so she can build up confidence in social situations.
- Give praise for playing when it goes well. Notice friendly behaviour like turn taking, smiling and sharing.
- Play with your toddler. You’re her greatest role model.
- Make sure she hears you telling others what she’s good at to give her confidence and boost her self-esteem.
Ways to get your toddler chatting
- Sing nursery rhymes. She’ll love the repetition and soon join in. Ask what she thinks of the story in the rhyme.
- Build some quiet time into your daily routine, as this gives the opportunity for a conversation to start.
- Use eye contact when talking to her to show you’re listening properly.
- Let her choose an activity so she can explain what she’d like to do and why.
- Ask what she thinks about things. Questions like “Did you like that?” can encourage her to give her opinions.
Help your toddler love learning
- Read together no matter how busy you are. Keep a book in the buggy so when you’re out you can read a quick story.
- Keep it fun. Bake cookies in the shapes of letters or make Play-Doh numbers.
- Encourage messy play with water or paints. It helps dexterity in fingers, which is vital for writing.
- Put your tot’s name on a plaque on his bedroom door to help him recognise it.
- Go number and letter spotting, such as counting red cars or pointing out letters on signs and food packaging.
Teaching your child cooperation
- Be clear about what you want. If it’s bedtime, say so, don’t ask him if he wants to go to bed or not.
- Offer a little choice over minor things so he has some control. Does he want an apple or banana to eat?
- Stick to two options when offering a choice. More can be overwhelming.
- Always make eye contact as this will help you recognise if he’s unclear about something.
- Say thank you, and look pleased when he gets something right, as this helps his confidence develop.