This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.

To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Precocious Pre-toddlers (12-18 months)

Several people (you know who you are) have made requests for posts on activities for pre-toddlers. Here we define a pre-toddler as a 12-18 month old child. This age range is awkward, much like the pre-teen stage later in life. A pre-toddler may or may not be walking, may have one word or twenty, may understand complicated instructions or still be struggling with the concept of "don't touch". This age range is also notoriously limited in both attention spans and crafty skills.

Here is a basic run-down of activities well-suited to the pre-toddler stage as well as some insights on where they are in development and what can reasonably be expected. I will slowly work through these with my own pre-toddler as my guinea pig and try to give as much insight about how to introduce each activity and how to modify it so your child can experience some success without too much frustration.

Speaking of frustration, in On Becoming Pre-toddlerwise, the authors say that, "some activities challenge present skill levels by placing demands on your little one for a solution. It's the challenge in such cases that stimulates learning."

When your child is participating in learning time with mom or dad she should be challenged. Tasks that have already been mastered are best left as independent activities for free playtime. So you can expect a certain level of frustration, it's a good thing! However, when your child becomes repetitively frustrated, it is time to stop the activity. With these activities, suggest, demonstrate and encourage but do not overly assist. No helicopter parenting at learning time!

  1. stacking blocks--in my experience pretoddlers are doing quite well if they can stack 3 blocks on top of one another by 18 months. My 16 month old hasn't managed it yet.
  2. stacking rings--this tends to be mastered closer to 11-13 months old, but getting the rings in the correct order might take a bit longer.
  3. containers with lids--start with easier ones and move to progressively harder ones.
  4. finger plays and nursery rhymes--check out No Time for Flashcards for detailed videos of every nursery rhyme you can think of.
  5. scheduled playdates with 1-2 children at a time once a week is a great way to develop social skills slowly and with lots of parental supervision. Keep these experiences positive and low-stress at this age, try not to overwhelm a pre-toddler with too many children or too much unsupervised socialization.
*Start with 10-15 minutes per activity and work towards the goal of 30 minutes later as a toddler/preschooler.

We should also keep in mind that the 12-18 month stage is largely about gaining self-sufficiency and learning how to be a civilized human being :) So, here are some other activities you might not realize your child could start mastering already:
  1. drink from a small plastic cup--start with 1-2 ounces of water, expect dribbles and have your child clean those dribbles up with a rag or sponge
  2. eat with spoon and fork--hand over the spoon and a bowl of oatmeal, then take cover! Just kidding!
  3. cut banana with a knife--you can buy small toddler butter knives, supervision is required but this is really not a difficult or dangerous activity.
  4. walk up and down stairs--practice makes perfect! Good way to tire out your child on rainy/snowy days.
  5. climb off/on couch--teach your child to climb off safely (on their belly, feet first) before they learn to climb on the couch. We started at 9 months old and by the time our son could climb on the couch he could already climb off safely and we've only had one fall.
  6. pour water from small pitcher into a cup--I'll explain further in a later post.
  7. wipe up own spills and the table with a rag or sponge at the end of meals.
  8. put clothes away--an 18 month old can learn to fold a washcloth or cloth diaper and carry socks or other clothes and place them in a basket or drawer in their room.
On Becoming Pre-toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo and Dr. Bucknam
Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard


Michael and Natalie said...

THANK YOU. I wonder all the time what I should be doing with my 14 month old, and now I don't feel guilty that I couldn't figure out what activities to do with her :)

Daniel said...

i really love this post! I have a 19 month old and it seems we are pretty much on track - now I wonder what i should be doing next!


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