There are many ways to track your child’s development. From cognitive development and motor skills to language abilities and social & emotional development, there’s a lot to think about. And whilst all of these are equally important and there are certain milestones to look out for, each child develops each of these vital skills at a different pace.
Some things such as fine motor skills may take a little more time, but when it comes to social and emotional development, it’s good to be proactive and to start early. So what exactly should you be doing to help your toddler’s social development?
Enjoy play time with your child
As parenting advice goes, this is probably the nicest one to hear. The disciplining and boundary-setting of the dreaded teenage years are a long way a way, now is the time to enjoy spending some quality and fun time with your child. That isn’t to say that you won’t also be setting boundaries and teaching them about discipline along the way, but it will be done in a nice and relaxed setting centred around play time.
Play time can help build confidence, self esteem, curiosity, independence, interaction, resilience, self-expression and so much more. Another great thing about this is that you can do it in a way that suits your lifestyle and schedule. If you work crazy hours and only have a brief time slot in the early evenings, then set aside twenty minutes of play time before the bath and bed time routine. You can even incorporate play time into bath time if your child enjoys playing with water. If you have the time, head to the park and enjoy a healthy dose of fresh air during the day or on weekends. Or, if your toddler has a habit of waking you up at 5am, why not enjoy some quality family time before breakfast? The key is to make room for playing at a time that suits you.
Enrol your toddler in childcare
Child care isn’t just a place to leave your kids whilst you go to work, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to encourage all sorts of development. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of child care is that your child can interact with many different children of various ages and from various backgrounds. This allows them to develop vital skills such as sharing, empathy and coping with challenging situations. Another huge benefit of sending your child to an early learning centre is the expertise of the staff. They are not only qualified to keep your child safe, but they also know what types of games and tasks can best assist their development.
As with organising play time, choosing a day care centre is about finding a routine that works for you. Finding a place close to your home (as opposed to your work) is probably the easiest way to do this. So for example, if you live in Dural, find a child early learning centre in Dural. This way, your child will interact with other local children and you can start building a network of parents and children in your local area.
Encourage play dates
Play dates are a fantastic way to achieve many different things at once. First of all, you give your child the benefits of playing with other children without having to pay for child care. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to socialise with friends and other parents. And thirdly, you are helping them to develop a social network and enjoy independent play without much adult interaction. This once again encourages independence, creative, self confidence and so much more.
There are a thousand and one different pieces of advice we could give you to help aid your child’s development but perhaps the most important piece of advice is to allow them to enjoy and play. Whether it’s at a day care centre, at the park or at home, giving them a safe space for free play will enable them to develop an endless list of social skills (as well as other vital skills) at their own pace. There will be years of tests & homework, now is the time to enjoy some innocent playtime!