Summer is nearly upon us and I have been thinking of all the activities I am looking forward to with my children. Luckily in South Africa we can take advantage of our good weather and be out and about with our tots. I am a believer in Nature as our best teacher. It stimulates all our senses. When doing or planning activities with your babes always ensure that you stimulate all your child’s senses, and try to keep in mind that you need to access all areas of development as well. I always use the acronym SPACE when I plan activities – Social, Physical, Aesthetic, Cognitive and Emotional – and this ensures that you plan for each area of development.
Activities to develop social skills
- Babies and Toddlers are very egocentric. Before they can learn about the rest of the world, they need to learn about themselves. Learning about their bodies and their feelings through songs and play is the ideal way.
- Dressing up is a wonderful way for Toddlers to discover about themselves, careers and it helps them to identify with other members of their family.
- Outings with friends and family or play dates at friends’ houses.
- Baking is a fun way to spend together. It stimulates each sense and encourages good manners and behavior with food.
Activities to develop physical skills
- Any activity outside in the garden is beneficial for your child.
- Trampolines are fabulous for physical development as well as stimulating the sense of movement in unusual ways.
- Rolling down hills (or any activities that your child will find themselves in different positions other than standing upright and walking).
Activities to develop aesthetic skills and interestsWhat I mean by aesthetic development is activities that will develop your child’s sense of creativity.
- Music – play or sing songs and rhymes. Even better encourage your child to play a musical instrument. You can do this with your baby from a very young age with rattles, drums, bells and others.
- Drama or fantasy play – encourage play where your child uses their active imagination. A cardboard box is great fun; it can be anything from a car to a rocket, a baby’s bed to a hiding place.
- Creative arts – take chalk outside and let your children draw on the patio or paving outside. Get paint brushes of all different sizes and a bucket of water and let them paint the house anywhere they like with the water (best done in the buff).
Activities for cognitive developmentThese are activities that stimulate the brain and lay foundations for reading and writing.
- Building blocks, puzzles, games, counting games
- Box construction – save up your old boxes and cartons. Your toddlers will love to stick them together with craft glue and see what creations they can make.
- Books – sitting together reading each day is an ideal way to access the seeking instinct that children have. They want to know more and see what happens next.
Activities for Emotional development
- Looking after pets is one of the best ways to help your child understand what caring is.
- Give each of your children a spot in the garden that belongs to them where they can plant seeds, dig in the mud and just mess about. You would be surprised what you will find them doing out there.
- Try to spend 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes each afternoon focused in an activity with your child. Let them choose what they want to do and you follow their lead. Your baby and toddler may just amaze you.