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Supporting Toddler Development
Natural loving, responsive caregiving provides infants and toddlers with the ideal environment for encouraging their own exploration, which is always the best environment for learning. If a child is curious about colors and paints, animals or big trucks, you’ll be helping his brain develop by finding ways to explore what he most wants to learn about. Let the child safely explore as much as possible. Gently expose them to different textures, temperatures, scents and sounds.
Toddlers need outdoor and indoor space to play actively. Some need a quiet place, somewhat away from the action, where they can relax and watch. Many sleep more easily when in a separate, quiet space, so provide a calm place to sleep. The goal is a balance between an environment that is interesting, but not overwhelming. (Some children get more easily overwhelmed than others by too much color or sound.) Pictures of toddlers and their families help youngsters remember that their parents will indeed return.
Toddlers learn from active involvement with any material. But they learn much more when adults often talk and play with them, rather than just watch them play. Adults can gradually build the attention span of older toddlers (age 2 or 2 1/2) by pointing out new and interesting things to do with the same object. Adults can alternate between showing new possibilities (“If you turn the box over, you’ll see how it opens”) and praising youngsters for doing something new (“You opened the box!”). Teachers can demonstrate imaginative play, such as rocking a baby doll to sleep or saying “varoom varoom” while moving a car.