PLAY! This may seem obvious, but it is essential to a child’s development. Sometimes we focus so much on what we should or shouldn’t be doing and look at everything as work, but play is a child’s work. This is how they explore their world. Play teaches them important physical skills such as coordination, balance and muscle control. These set the foundation for more complicated physical skills such as kicking a ball while running, skipping and doing cartwheels. Again these may seem like trivial skills but they are essential to a child’s development and set the stage for academic success.
This is also why we as professionals in child development get so annoyed when toddlers are given worksheets or writing skills to complete. This is not how they learn and starting these too early could be detrimental to their development. Toddlers have a natural desire to move and play so take advantage of this and encourage them to run, climb and explore. This way patterns of having an active lifestyle are also instilled from a young age.
How much activity should a child be doing? According to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education the guidelines for daily activity of 12-36 month olds, is as follows:
- At least 30 minutes of structured physical activity (Adult led)
- At least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity (free play)
At this age there should be no worksheets or writing expected. Pre-writing skills are developed here through play and textures, painting and free drawing or colouring, with no pressure or expectations put on them.
SKidz Clever activity boxes were designed with this in mind. It provides activities for the structured adult led parts of the day. Here babies and toddlers learn through play. Each box covers 6 months at a time and includes over 100 activities to do at home in a one on one setting. This way they learn, explore, have fun and build relationships. Boxes can be ordered on the website www.skidz.co.za There is also more information on each box available there.
In the meantime here are some tips of what physical activity skills can be expected from toddlers.
- Pull and carry toys
- Kick a ball
- Walk backwards
- Balance on one foot for 1-2 seconds
- Climbs well
- Throws ball over head
- Start to pedal a tricycle
- Start to balance and ride a balance bike
- Runs well