Your Toddler/ pre-school child's development during Covid 19.
Updated: May 1
Covid 19 and the toddler:
Across the internet and media we can see endless lists of ideas for school aged children stuck at home during the Covid 19 isolation period, but what about the toddler or pre-school aged child? What can we do to keep toddlers busy while still ensuring they’re developing as they would have in preschool? I founded Baby Naming Ireland, Irelands first website dedicated to baby naming ceremonies, after completing a degree in education and having spent years teaching in both the primary school classes and also preschool/ early school classes. As a result I’ve been able to devise some of the key areas to continue your child’s development while keeping them entertained.
Speech & Oral Langauge:
Toddlers are like a sponge when it comes to language. It is at this age that we develop much of our language skills and actually pick up languages easiest. A study by Adam Szczegielniak states that ‘children already know most of the grammar of their native language(s) before they are five years old’ ‘Between 2;6 and 3;6 a language explosion occurs and children undergo rapid development’. After this age, 3;6, children begin to develop the ability to put questions together. Why is this important? It is during these early years that educators promote the development of oral language, and it is crucial as parents to continue this process.
How do we help develop this:
Books & Picture books. Books without any words are the perfect way to expand the imagination and vocabulary.
Talking about experiences- where you were, what you did, who was there.
Playing imaginative play games such as shop, restaurant etc. are all great ways to introduce new words and sentence structure. For instance if your child hears ‘I would like to buy_______’ repetitively rather than ‘me buy_________’ grammar points are easily learned.
I once had a conversation with a speech therapist that really struck me. I asked why so many children had speech problems- little lisps or sounds they couldn’t say. She asked me if I had ever noticed how we are taught to develop most skills- develop muscles to be able to crawl, walk etc. We learn how to balance to ride a bike. However the formation of speech is rarely taught, despite the mouth making so many different shapes and sounds. There are many activities that can help develop these muscles by making the mouth form particular shapes and sounds. Some easy ones to try with your child include:
blowing a whistle
Drinking through a straw
Making faces- funny faces, copying faces
Create noises with your mouth- e.g. humming, creating a clicking sound
Remembering and following instructions - begin with 2-part instructions and then develop e.g. touch your head then touch your toes, now touch your head, then your toes and then turn around.
Remembering parts of a story-e.g. what happened after the rabbit got home?
Comparing, sorting, and categorising - Sort and compare for: colours- all the red toys, here all the blue ones here , sizes the biggest down to the smallest etc. (items to use beads, socks, toys, coloured pegs). Categorise- put all the things things you would find on the farm, all the things you would find in a school etc.
Pattern- making 2 part patterns - little spoon, big spoon, little spoon, big spoon, etc Then develop to 3 part patterns.
Memory matching games
When children enter the primary school and begin tasks such as handwriting and cutting their fine motor skills become apparent. There are many ways to develop these skills in the early years:
Playdough- push, pull, squeeze etc (Learn how to make some play dough yourself here https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-playdough-recipe/)
Colouring and painting
Pegs- putting clothes pegs on a line and taking them off again
beads - stringing beads, placing them on a board etc
Picking up items with tweezers
Finger/hand exercises and rhymes- matching up finger tips, clenching fists, tipping each finger in turn off your thumb
threading/ lacing card
Gross motor skills - theses skills help to perform various tasks and retain flexibility. Many sports require good gross motor skills.
Activities to try with your toddler:
walking on a line
balancing on one foot
walking up and down stairs with alternating feet
jumping- two feet together, one foot
running around obstacles
throwing at a target
riding a tricycle
Play, play and play
Developing and allowing a child to use their imagination will give way to almost each of the learning areas above. Through play a child will develop their language, problem solving skills
and understanding. The zoo, the shop, the house, school, camping. The opportunities for learning and development through play are endless. Think of a shop scene. You child is the shopkeeper. You come to pay for your products but you forgot your purse. It’s amazing the solutions your child may come up with, while developing their understanding of how transactions occur. The language they get the opportunity to use. The counting they can do while you put your items on the ‘counter’. The opportunities to learn colours, shapes and sizes. The possibilities are endless.
These are just some of the ways you can help your toddler at home, and in particular when they are unable to attend preschool or creche. However there are many, many more. Feel free to share if you found this useful and add to it. Read more helpful blogs here