Having a toddler can be quite a challenge! They are busy, little explorers, trying to learn as much as possible about the world around them. It is, after all, their job to touch, poke, shake, climb, bang, and taste just about anything new that they encounter. They are "busy-bodies," by nature and if you don't engage them in a variety of activities, they will happily entertain themselves in just about everything that they are not supposed to. Follow these simple steps, and you will be able to keep your toddler engaged and out of trouble!
- Create a daily schedule and stick to it: Toddlers thrive on routine. It teaches them what to expect, and when to expect it. Be sure to include opportunities for free play as well as directed play, inside playtime, as well as outdoor exploration. Some other blocks of time may include music and movement, puzzles and construction, creative art, story time, cooking, even computers! They are never too young to start learning!
- Plan ahead: Plan your toddler's activities the week before. What are your toddler's interests? Is he crazy about dinosaurs? You can find all sorts of thematic units on the Internet that may include, songs about dinosaurs, dinosaur art projects, dinosaur puzzles, learning activities, related cooking projects and even dinosaur movement games. Does your toddler love Pooh Bear? No problem! I bet you can find a Winnie the Pooh thematic Unit. Google it and see what you come up with!
- Provide choices within your structured day: Toddlers love making choices and are much more willing to participate when they have a say in what's going on. Did you plan a creative art project today? Great! Let your toddler decide whether they would like to play with crayons, markers or paint. Are you doing music and movement today? Perfect! Let your toddler pick which song to sing first! Did you plan story time? Great! Let your toddler choose the book, and where to read it!
- Get Out of That House! Even a toddler can get cabin fever! Make sure you provide at least a couple of outings per week for your toddler. It doesn't have to cost a thing! Go to a public park for outdoor playtime. Spend your morning at the library for story time. Go to the grocery store to make the purchases for your afternoon cooking project. Do a thematic unit on airplanes and take a Friday field trip to the airport! The opportunities are endless really. Just follow your toddler's lead!
Toddlers can be so much fun, but they are, without a doubt, exhausting. Keeping them busy will reduce your overall stress and theirs!