learn through play
Fitness and play

Help your toddler learn through play

Although it may look like messy and exhausting, the importance of children’s playtime can never be underestimated. It might not seem like much, but this is the time that your child begins to learn how the world around them works and develop crucial life skills.

By around 24 months old, your child has begun to play pretend and imaginative games with themselves. The simplest of toys can spark your child’s imagination into an array of pretend situations, which lay the foundations of their childhood world.

Your child’s playtime is largely how they express their emotions before they have the capability to do so through words. If your child is experiencing an emotion that they do not understand or that makes them upset, they will most likely express this in some form through play.

Help your toddler learn through play

This is why it is important to stay involved with your toddler’s playtime but not to command the situation or their play environment.

When your child invites you into their imaginary world you need to give them total control. This is their world and showing them that you accept that is a great way to build their confidence as well as showing them that you too are interested in what they are interested in.

5 development games for your two-year-old:

1. Matching colours:

At this stage it is likely that your toddler has begun to recognise different colours. A game you can play to encourage this is to create coloured cards, give them to your child and identify the colour. Then have them identify other objects, in your house or play area, of the same colour, repeating its name.

2. What can you hear?:

Bring your two- year-old to a park or else outside in the garden. Lie down on a blanket and ask them to close their eyes. Ask them to tell you what sounds they hear and if they can describe them. This will help your child to develop both their listening and descriptive skills.

3. Chasing and catching:

To help boost your child’s physical development, chasing and catching is a great source of both exercise and entertainment. Toddlers love to be chased, especially when they know that if they get caught they get hugs and tickles. This allows bonding between you and your child as well as being a fun and healthy game for them.

4. Drawing themselves:

Have your child lie down on top of a large piece of paper or card. With a pencil, trace the outline of their body and then have them fill in their physical features, as they are aware of them. This helps both creative expression as well as body awareness.

5. Story telling:

Telling your child your own made-up stories as well as reading books together is an extremely effective tools in developing your child’s imagination. Making up stories illustrates the basic components of storytelling to your child, such as creating plots and characters. It is also a good idea to make your child the main character in the story. From here, children will then be able to begin making up their own stories.

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.