Ah, the terrific twos! What would we do without them? I’ll tell you what—we’d miss out on one of the most critical periods for brain development.
There are a number of things that you can do to support this important time, and believe me, it can be a challenge! What doesn’t have to be challenging, though, is setting up the environment. Let’s explore a few things that can be done to help support little ones in this terrific (albeit, sometimes terrible) time!
Less Is More — A cliché, but so true! Toddlers are VERY easily overwhelmed. Stick to fewer toys and put them on open shelves so that they are easily visible. When a toddler sees a toy that stands alone in its own space, he is more likely to engage with it, which is the first step to initiating learning. Avoid toy boxes as best you can—they often end up with toys exploding all over the room, and can deter your child from wanting to play with anything at all.
Soft, Muted, Simple — Too many colors can be just as overwhelming for your tot. I know we’re all tempted to paint the walls red, yellow, and blue, and have a colorful and stimulating learning mat, as well as wall hangings with a million different letters and numbers and colors—but STOP! Kids at this age can focus best with muted colors. Primary colors, while popular with kids, are often incredibly over stimulating and can overload their brains.
Make Books Available — Keep a small basket of books next to the bed for your child to access at any time. As they grow, you’ll want them to have access to a bookshelf, but for now just having a handful of books available within their reach is great. Make sure to swap them out every once in a while for variety, but not too often so that they can learn rhythms, patterns, and stories by repetition. Read to them, but also allow them to explore books at their own pace and on their own time. Even being familiar with how to hold a book and turn the pages is a step toward reading.
Take The Pieces Out of the Puzzle — That’s right, you heard me! Why? When a toddler sees a puzzle with all the pieces in it, they see something that is complete—so why even touch it? Put the pieces in a small basket to the left of the puzzle board and watch what happens. Give them the freedom to put the pieces in the wrong spaces, upside-down, or even dump the basket—and then wait. All of this exploring will help them to discover all about puzzles. Don’t worry, they’ll get it eventually. Why put the pieces to the left of the board, specifically? This helps to develop the “left to right scanning” technique they will need for reading!
Have a Solid Workspace and a “Snuggle Spot” — A child this age will want a table or someplace solid to run cars, set up play dishes, draw, etc. But, they will also need a place to collapse, to snuggle with their caregiver, or to pat their baby doll’s back as she goes to sleep. Make sure that both of these places are present in their space. If there’s not enough room where they sleep, make sure a play surface is present somewhere in your home.
Being two is hard work. We can all relate to how it felt being a little person in a big person’s world. Having a space that meets the needs of someone so small shows them that they are special, important, and a valued member of your family.
This article was featured in my October 1st Newsletter. Go to my home page to opt in!