Play! Follow Your Child’s Lead

When teaching new skills, start with what your child knows and enjoys. Play is the way children learn. They love to play with their parents and other caring adults. Here are some simple rules of play:

  • Watch. Watch your child and observe his interests and his skill level. You are learning about how he plays.
  • Let your child lead. Join in and play at your child’s level. If you try to teach too much too fast, your child might get upset. 
  • Be accepting. Ask your child to tell you what he’s doing and say something good about it. 
  • Show him how to do something slightly more difficult. After playing the same game many times, you might show him something a little bit harder to play. If your child can put together a two-piece puzzle, try one with three pieces. If your child likes building with blocks, you might show him how to combine block play with toy animals. 
  • Watch again. Every now and then, stop playing and just watch your child play. Watch how he explores his new activity. After your child learns to do something new by himself, you can join in and suggest another new activity. 
  • Remember your child’s attention span is very short. When he decides to stop playing, let him.

Some suggestions for play time together include building blocks, toys, stuffed animals, or safe homemade items.

By guiding your child’s simple, everyday activities, you are providing the building blocks to help your child grow up healthy and ready for success. Guiding and caring for your toddler will be challenging and exciting. She’ll need attention and help from you. You’ll need a sense of humor, some time to yourself, and lots of common sense.