Now that my son is a full-fledged toddler (where did the time go!?) I am constantly trying to think of new ways to play with him while also trying to be diligent in educating and teaching him life skills along the way.
Play is such an important part of a child’s life and development. I find that when I am engaged in Edwin’s play and allow him to take the lead while still subtly guiding him, we both benefit. Edwin surprises me every day with a new word or skill (most recently, he’s mastered colours and he LOVES to help with chores). He amazes me when I’m speaking to him and he repeats many words back to me verbatim. Recently, he’s started putting two words together and is understanding to say “please”, “thank you” and my favorite of all, “I love you”. While I may be biased in thinking my son is a #genius, I also know that a lot of the reason why he is excelling in things like speech is because of the ways we play. Whether that is getting outside to explore our environment or an educational toy like the @LeapFrogcanada Speak & Learn Puppy I’ve rounded up 5 of the ways that Edwin and I play together in a fun yet educational way. Getting Outside: Getting outside to explore our environment as much as possible has been an important part of our play and learning since Edwin was born. We’ve always taken Edwin on walks, and now we enjoy going to places like the beach and the playground. Jamie also takes Edwin on an almost 2-hour walk every morning. During these walks, Jamie keeps a close eye on Edwin but allows him to run around and explore different terrain like wooded areas, rocks by the lake, and more grassy fields for himself. While on walks with Edwin, we make it a point to talk about the things he is seeing and experiencing such as the wind blowing in the trees, the hot son, the cool grass, the hard rocks, etc. We’ve found this to be such an amazing way to get out of the house, get some exercise, and teach our son while we’re at it.Playing with Educational Toys: When it comes to toys, I am extremely selective on what we bring into our home. This is for a couple of reasons. 1. I want to offer Edwin toys that I know he’ll love and get a lot of use out of and 2. I don’t feel like children need so many toys that will get passed over and take up space. However, I have noticed now that Edwin is getting older, he needs a little bit more in the way of stimulating toys. When deciding on the right toy for my son I like to ask a few questions. Is this something I think fits what he’s interested in? Is it multi-purpose? And will this toy grow with my son? A toy that recently checked all of these boxes is the Leapfrog plush Speak & Learn Puppy™. Because Edwin has been sharing a love for language as of late, this puppy (or Bailey as she’s named) was a perfect fit! Bailey comes to life with flapping ears, a head that moves, and real-time responses. What I love about Bailey is that she is super interactive and repeats what Edwin or I say. She asks questions, creates stories from our responses and keeps a conversation going. Bailey also offers up animal facts, animal sounds (another favourites of Edwin’s), food, feelings, letters and numbers through four paw buttons and a light-up collar. Bailey also has 3 age modes so that she can be used for a long time. With toys, I truly believe children don’t need everything but what they do have should serve purpose and playing and engaging WITH your children is invaluable.
Making Chores Fun: Allowing my 18-month-old son to help with chores was never something I’d anticipated prior to becoming a mother. I honestly didn’t know toddler could help with chores, but I have been pleasantly surprised with just how much my son is capable of when given the chance. I noticed Edwin’s keen desire to help first with laundry. Around 11 months, he would try to throw clothes into the basket or into the machine without me asking, and so I decided to allow him to help me (when he wanted). I also have Edwin put his own dirty clothes in his laundry basket and every time he does it, I can see how proud he is of himself. After laundry, Edwin progressed on to putting his diapers in the garbage, unloading the safe items from the dishwasher, and vacuuming and mopping the floors (he doesn’t actually do either of those, but he thinks he is, haha). I truly feel that allowing my son to be a part of everyday tasks builds his confidence (I can see the pride in his face when he completes a task and gives mommy or daddy a high-five) and is setting him up to be self-sufficient in the future.Listening to music, singing songs, and dancing: I love introducing Edwin to different types of music and have played many genres for him since he was a baby. Unfortunately, my taste in music has been outvoted as of late by songs like “Old Macdonald” and “Baby Shark”, but I still know that singing classic songs with Edwin is very important for his development. I’ve found songs that have dance movements like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus” to be the ones that really catch my sons’ attention as he tries his best to follow along with the choreography. Edwin and I love to sing, dance, and just be silly and I know that all of this fun is also very educational for him. Reading Books: Reading books is another activity I have incorporated into play and learning since Edwin was a baby. When he was a newborn, I read books to him every day simply so that he’d hear my voice often and get used to the routine. When Edwin became a little older, we began incorporating books into our bedtime routine. Now that Edwin is a toddler, we will read books throughout the day when he is interested, before nap and bedtime. The main difference in reading now is that I can ask Edwin to bring me a certain book or allow him to choose what books he wants to read (though he can be very picky, haha!). Reading with Edwin has also become very interactive as of late. He’s now pointing out pictures in the book rather than just reading the words. While reading to Edwin I also make it a point to ask him if he can “spot the X” or say a certain word. I also ask him what colour certain things are, what sound X animal makes, etc. Reading one book can now take way longer than it should (or I have to read the book 3x over), but it just shows me how much is absorbing from each page he turns.
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