Toddlers need to be with other children in order to learn important social skills such as negotiation, turn-taking and cooperation, which form the foundations for cooperative play and relationship building. Even though toddlers do not cooperate, share or make friends until their fourth year, if they have been given plenty of opportunities to play with other children, they will be at an advantage when they go to toddler group or preschool.
Toddlers also need structure and a regular routine. Both give toddlers a sense of organisation, stability, comfort and personal control. In a Toddler Sense class, exercise and group play form an important part of the structure and daily routine.
Toddlers need to be on the move, so opportunities to run around and let off steam are a must. The first part of the session involves free-flow adventure play, which offers endless opportunities for exploration, problem-solving and imaginative thinking. Toddlers are encouraged to crawl through tunnels, bounce, climb or clamber over the equipment. They decide what interests them the most and how they will explore the equipment. Adventurers (18 – 36 months) put the equipment away after use, which builds self-esteem and confidence and keeps them busy and stimulated.
Free-flow play in the adventure area is followed by structured group activities which build the skills that toddlers need for healthy brain development. Activities may include hide-and-seek, music and movement, action songs, rhymes, dance, clapping and patting games, drawing and colouring, puppet shows, parachute activities, football, treasure hunts and interaction with soft toys. Toddlers can also explore a spaceship, climb a snow mountain, ride on a night train, sail on a pirate ship and hunt for dinosaurs. There is always something new and exciting to look forward to.
Throughout the session, parents join in with the fun and offer toddlers support, praise and encouragement. Spending time with them raises their self-esteem and emotional security and equips them to handle moments of frustration and anger.
There are plenty of fun educational activities that meet the learning and developmental needs of toddlers. The following Toddler Sense activities engage their interest and keep them happily occupied:
- Hide and seek – encourages rich parent-child interactions and the element of surprise that toddlers love so much.
- Pretend play – toddlers enjoy fitting themselves into boxes that are just their size, which promotes spatial awareness. When the box is transformed into a pirate ship or a train, parents get to see the world from the toddler’s point of view. Small world figures, plastic tea-sets, tents, soft toys and picnics set the scene for pretend play and imaginative thinking.
- Building with blocks – develops awareness of size, shape, weight and dimension. Toddlers also enjoy demolishing their constructions, which relieves stress and tension and teaches them about cause and effect at the same time.
- Ball games – a ball is one of the best ways to get toddlers moving. It can be bounced, thrown, kicked, caught or rolled down a slope. Tracking the movement of the ball improves eyesight, which is essential for later reading.
- Dance – dancing with ribbons and scarves is an excellent way to work in some physical activity. It also builds muscle memory and it encourages toddlers to express their emotions.
- Music – making music enhances fine finger movements, improves eyesight, hearing, concentration and memory. It also provides a great outlet for frustration, tension and stress. Toddlers also gain emotional satisfaction from activities that involve singing, clapping and body actions. The effect of music on toddlers with sensory impairments, disabilities and learning needs can be far-reaching.
- Obstacle course – an obstacle course created with cushions and pillows provides a great opportunity for toddlers to build up balance and coordination skills and controlled use of their feet. Creeping and crawling activities also exert pressure on the palms of their hands, which stretches the muscles, prevents the fingers from closing and leads on to greater flexibility of the thumb.
- Tools – fine motor skills are promoted by giving toddlers crayons and pencils for scribbling, beads for threading, sponges for cleaning, puzzles, toys and other tools. Encouraging toddlers to coordinate their hand and finger movements forms the foundation for more complex precision tasks such as writing.
- Action songs – repeating favourite songs regularly, and echoing the actions, reinforces memory and helps toddlers to control their movements. Vocabulary is also increased through stories and interaction with soft toys and puppets.
Toddlers are creative, curious, imaginative, busy little people who enjoy exploration and new challenges. However, they are easily distracted and they may not listen, sit still or join in for very long, so each activity only lasts three minutes. New Explorers (13 – 18 months) return to the Adventure play area after structured activities.
Toddler Sense provides toddlers with new challenges in a supportive and consistent environment. When toddlers are encouraged to be physically active, they learn how their bodies work, build muscles, strength and endurance, burn off excess calories and sleep better at night.
For more information, please visit: http://www.babysensory.com/en/Sample_Session.aspx