6 ways to encourage exploration
Educational psychologist, Anel Annandale, recommends ways to encourage your child to explore.
1. Spatial relations
Even though your toddler’s vocabulary still has quite a long way to go, it’s a good idea to use words such as ‘above’, ‘next to’, ‘behind’ and ‘underneath’ whenever you talk to your child about everyday activities. Try saying things like: ‘Let’s go and sit under the umbrella.’ Or ‘I can see you like sitting next to your toy box.’ This way you can help develop your little one’s sense of spatial relations, as well as help them understand where they are in relation to the objects around them.
2. Visual association skills
Always try to draw your precious one’s attention to different areas within your neighbourhood, as well as new places, people or objects. This is one way to help develop your child’s visual association skills and teach them about where things typically belong. For instance, you’ll find bread, dough, flour and ovens in a bakery. And cows, sheep and tractors on a farm. At first it might seem to be just fun, but these visual association skills are important for helping your little one make predictions about the world around them.
3. Extra patience
Children can often be quite temperamental – eager to take part one minute, and just as unwilling the next! But the good news is that this is a sign that your little one is developing a will of their own, and all you need is just a little extra patience. Try not to push your child into doing something they don’t want to. Instead, try to get their attention in other ways. Such as pretending to be completely engrossed in an activity until your toddler can’t resist taking a closer look at what you’re doing.
4. Encourage their interests
You should always try to encourage your child’s questions and interests wherever possible. That’s because even though your little one is probably incredibly curious about the world around them, they may not always be able to express or articulate their thoughts and ideas well enough to ask the questions they would like to. So, if you think your toddler is curious about something, start talking to them about it. Try to give them as many details as you can or even ask them questions to get them thinking.
5. Left and right
The concept of left and right may still be a little tricky. So try facing your toddler and getting them to copy your actions, but just remember to always use your opposite body part to theirs, so that they don’t get confused. For instance, if you want your child to wave their left hand, wave your right hand so they can see which side is the correct one. And don’t forget that patience is key!
6. Focus on fun and interaction
Always keep in mind that your toddler needs hands-on activities to learn about all the different concepts and to improve their perceptual skills. So try not to use worksheets or activity books too often. Rather focus on playing and plenty of fun interaction. Spending lots of time out and about is really good for your child at this age!
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Do you let your child explore or do you prefer to control their play time?