Many parents worry about whether they’re giving their children enough stimulation and experiences. In the bargain they tend to overdo things and overstimulate the child, which does not allow the child to benefit from the experience. Positive stimulation is all about finding a balance that’s right for your child. It is also about connecting and spending quality time with your toddler, without getting too worked up about packing the time with a hundred different activities.
So is your child getting enough stimulation? Check out our list on top ways to best stimulate your child:
- Give them real life experiences: In order to grasp a good general knowledge of the world children need to learn through experiences. There is a world of knowledge to be gained by activities like your child spending time with you in the kitchen, rolling out rotis alongside you, or shelling peas. Plastic non-messy play food can never stimulate the senses the way real food can. Or how about allowing them to wash their own plate after a meal? For toddlers learning the ropes of how to navigate life, even putting on one’s own shoes, is an adventure. Life skills are something that they need to experience themselves and can’t get out of flashcards or books.
- Have more conversations: Two-way adult-child conversations are important in promoting language development as opposed to those in which the adult did all the talking. Engaging in this reciprocal back-and-forth gives children a chance to try out language for themselves, and also gives them the sense that their thoughts and opinions matter. Engage your child in eye-to-eye contact. Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, and fear. Talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry. Learning the difference is an important step for a child learning to communicate. When listening to your child, try not to jump in, cut your child off, or put words in your child’s mouth – even when your child says something ridiculous or wrong or is having trouble finding the words. Children appreciate this as much as grown-ups!
- Children thrive with unstructured play: Unstructured play is a category of where children engage in open-ended play that has no specific learning objective. Unlike structured play, unstructured play is not instructor-led or adult guided. Children naturally, when left to their own devices, will take initiative and create activities and stories in the world around them. We cannot emphasize enough about the power and need of unstructured play. Undirected play helps children learn how to work collaboratively, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and learn self-advocacy skills. When play is child-driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover areas of interest on their own, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue. Unstructured play is important for a child because it gives them a sense of freedom and control, and allows them to learn about themselves, what they like and don’t like, and even make mistakes without feeling any pressure or failure.
- Passive toys make active learners: “The best toys for babies don’t do anything.” – Magda Gerber. Our children don’t need expensive battery operated toys. Simple, open-ended objects are the resources that are most likely to be used over and over, and stimulate the imagination, creative thinking and problem solving of children regardless of the age. Open-ended toys don’t come with a set of instructions, so they don’t have a ‘right’ way in which they ‘should’ be used. This way they not only stimulate the imagination, but also allow self-initiated play, simply because children don’t need any help or explanation to use them. And while they engage all the senses, and stimulate development in all possible areas, their use in imaginative play can also have positive impact on the development of executive functions, specifically self-regulation skills. Open-ended toys – don’t play by themselves, can be used in 101 different ways and are not age-specific. They can be something as simple as a piece of fabric, a ball of wool, a steel plate and spoon, bowls, balls and cardboard boxes.
- Play and be silly together: Hugging, interacting and playing with your child has a strong effect on developing his intelligence. The loving connection formed with your one-on-one interactions with him provide the foundation for his higher thinking skills. Children crave time with parents. It makes them feel special. Parents must make time to spend playing with their children on a regular basis. When you play with your children you are not only connecting and engaging, you’re exchanging emotional signals, which is helping the child regulate mood and behavior, learning to read social signals and learning to communicate. Each of these abilities contributes to a child’s sense of security.
- Take them outdoors: The outdoors is the very best place for toddlers to practice and master emerging physical skills. It is in an open space that children can fully and freely experience motor skills like running and jumping. It is also where all our senses get stimulated. Let them feel the squish of a muddy puddle under their feet. Let them experience a wet and windy day. Take a walk with your child, not with the aim of teaching him a lesson about plants, but for the simple reason of spending quality time with him. Pick a color, and ask your toddler if he can spot it when you go on a walk or car ride together. Then let him pick a color for you to hunt. Your conversation, observations and just having a fun time together is what will benefit him.
- Introduce them to the world of books: How parents read to their toddlers has a huge impact on how much they love reading and how readily they learn to read on their own one day. Let your child see you reading. Kids learn from what they observe. If he sees that you’re excited about reading, your child is likely to catch your enthusiasm, too. Lift-the-flap, pop-up, and textured books are great for interactive reading and engaging the child. Reading isn’t just about sitting down with a good book. It’s a part of daily life, too. As you go through your day, help your child keep an eye out for “reading moments.” They may be as simple as reading road signs, grocery lists or recipes.
For more stimulation ideas and parenting tips, please like us at http://www.facebook.com/rattlenbounce or visit our childcare demonstration centre at Thakur Village, Kandivali East, Mumbai.
Call 096998 35925 for details.