Give children plenty of time to play indoors and outdoors, climbing, running, jumping and dancing. Select environments and challenges that are within their capacity to give them enjoyment of movement and as they develop confidence, challenge them at the edge of their ability to help hone those important skills of balance and co-ordination. Playing on different textures – sand, grass and mud give them good sensory feedback and help develop good overall strength.
Encourage children’s natural curiosity and allow them to shadow you through your day, giving them little tasks to do beside you. Help children explore their environment safely, and use simple language to label the things they are experiencing.
Put aside some old clothes, unused pots and other household things and encourage children to pretend play. Such play teaches them the function of objects in the environment and allows them to practice and develop their motor and social skills. Talk to them using simple words describing what they are doing.
At this age, children love to be independent. Use daily routines and household tasks to give them many opportunities to learn language, fine motor skills, sequencing and problem solving. Have them pick up tiny peas and put them in a bowl for you, leave out an item of clothing, allow the child to notice and then go and get it; teach them sequences in dressing – “head in, left hand, right hand, down!” as a way to learn numerous skills that will support learning and thinking skills. Encourage children to be independent but also know how to ask for help.
Expose children to books, pictures and print. Let them scribble with a stick in the sand, leaf through photograph albums, find pictures in the newspaper or magazine. Make simple puzzles and toys that fit together and come apart from things lying around the house.