While your toddler is becoming acquainted with their body and environment, their brains are also quickly advancing and growing. With millions of new neural connections forming every second, this is an important time to pay attention to your child’s development.

You can help them with engaging and stimulating activities. These are easy things you can integrate into their daily routine, you won’t want to skip these six activities!

1. Sing-a-longs

As soon as hearing starts to develop in the womb, it serves as an early connection to the outside world. This not only lets the baby become engaged with the world but stimulates areas of the brain namely in the hippocampus and frontal lobes. And although listening is great, singing is even better for toddlers! This can develop articulation and helps the body decrease stress by releasing endorphins. Memorizing simple songs will also help develop their memory. And singing together can promote bonding and improve physical and mental health.

2. Interactions

Whether they are engaging with pets, people or peers, these social interactions teach your toddler basic social behaviors. When receiving affection, eye contact and kind words, they are learning how to engage in affectionate behavior. Many tantrums are early attempts at setting boundaries and expressing their needs to others. Playing with other toddlers helps them learn how to interact and navigate social scenarios. Social interactions are vital to a toddler’s emotional health and contribute to long-term cognitive development.

3. Moving and Exploring

Movement is an essential part of human life. Learning to walk, dance, and run are some of the major milestones of a child’s development. As a toddler grows, exploring and moving throughout our environment not only stimulates the brain but also exercises the cardiovascular and lymphatic system. Physical activity during early childhood years promotes healthy habits, stimulates the immune system, and lowers stress and anxiety.

4. Identification and Manipulation of objects

Although simply observing does has its place, a toddler’s natural instinct is to grab. They want to pull things apart, see how they work, and how they taste! This is a vital reflex for their developing brain, as they crave sensory experience. Providing your toddler with activities that allow them to engage in this basic behavior can help their brains develop. Playing with art supplies, utilizing different shapes to make images, or mixing paints to create new colors provide rich experiences where they can see how their influence on the world creates interesting results.

5. Games to Stimulate Motor Skills

Many simple games from our childhood were actually helping us to develop valuable motor skills. Think about clapping games where you memorize a song and a complex series of hand movements. These fun games actually help develop hand-eye coordination and refine muscle control. Putting together simple puzzles, playing games where you touch your nose or ears, doing specific movements or memorizing phrases all bring a toddler into their body, further understanding how it works, how to carry out certain tasks and strengthening those parts of the brain related to motor skills. These motions become more refined over time and lay the foundation for developing finer talents and skills.

6. Free Play

There are few things in life that are more entertaining than the imagination! Their natural instinct to play and the ability to imagine are fundamental skills for a child. Whether your child’s creativity grows into great works of art or becomes skillful strategies for their future endeavors, the ability to put oneself in hypothetical situations gives us so much potential to grow in new ways. You can encourage this development of imagination by encouraging and playing along with imaginary games. Let your child know it is alright to play pretend and give them the tools to dress-up like a doctor or a princess. These experiences are valuable for developing the personality, understanding the self, and discovering personal preferences.

A toddler is at a key stage of development. They are constantly learning and growing, taking in every new experience to better understand the world and how to operate within it. Although these are also the years that are notorious for fussiness and tantrums, due to their developing ability to regulate emotion, they are still learning rapidly how to process and understand their experiences. You can help these vital years become more productive by providing them with rich experiences and opportunities to play and express themselves.