Challenge Your Little One With These Brain-Boosting Activities
Everything you do with your toddler during their first few years of life, from talking and singing to playing and eating, are helping their brain develop at a rapid rate! By adding some more problem-solving activities into their daily routines, you can help them build confidence and watch in awe as they develop crucial skills they’ll need in the future.
To help you come up with some new playtime ideas, we’ve put together a list of brain-boosting activities that’ll challenge your little one in fun and beneficial ways. While these ideas may seem simple, once you understand the developmental benefits behind them, it’s fun to watch your little one problem solve, organise, and more.
Let them solve problems on their own
Problem solving takes patience, for both you and your toddler. When your toddler is faced with a challenge, whether that be breaking down a box, solving a puzzle or tying their shoe lace, try giving them an opportunity to solve it themselves. While sometimes they may get grumpy in hopes that you will give in and solve their problem, other times they may calmly try and find different solutions- this is the aim!
If they approach a problem with calmness and you can see the thinking ticking over in their heads, you may guide or offer help if they need it – but don’t be too quick to jump in and assist. Once they’ve had a reasonable go, feel free to step in and explain how you’re solving their problem. As long as they ‘have a go’ they are doing a good job!
Introduce them to concentration and skill development activities
Object Stacking- encouraging your toddler to stack objects as high as possible will require patience, concentration, and strategy. These must be small, light objects that will not harm your toddler when they fall. It will require your toddler to count how many objects they could stack and try to keep improving it.
Puzzles- jigsaw puzzles are excellent as they are time consuming and require patience and problem solving. Trial and error is also introduced in this activity which is another method of problem solving. When your toddler becomes more advanced at the jigsaws, you can easily find another one that is slightly more challenging; you can continue to increase difficulty level as they get better.
Memory and Matching Games- memory games require concentration, but more importantly, introduce the feeling of frustration and how they should deal with it. When you play memory games, it usually takes multiple attempts to correctly match the objects, so it will allow your toddler to develop strategies to overcome this frustration. While they may need some help at first, they should be able to do it themselves after a while.
Simon Says- everyone knows this game! It requires focus and concentration. Your toddler should be able to listen intently and follow instructions. You could also incorporate this into real tasks that you need to your toddler to do, such as “Simon says put your toys in the toy box.”
Encourage organization skills
By encouraging organisation, you can you teach your toddler to be tidy, but to also think strategically, learn to order things correcting and discover ways to improve efficiency. It could be things such as putting toys away after playing with them. Lining shoes on the shoe rack neatly, color-coding clothes, organising books from favourite to least favourite or from what they have read and what they haven’t. This will encourage organisation in their future, such as school study and will help them keep their rooms tidy.
Try out some imagination and creativity activities
Arts & Craft Box- Letting your child express their creative and wild thoughts through arts and crafts will allow them to think outside the box- which is an important skill in problem solving. All parents should keep a box full of recycled arts and crafts, including scrap paper, carboard, texters, crayons, glitter, glue and stickers. Yes, it sounds messy, but get your toddler to do their arts and crafts in a space that is easy to clean. Toddlers should be encouraged to express their thoughts and emotions, and art is the best way to do this. Challenge your toddler to create a shape out of the cardboard box or to make a colourful scrapbook page about their favourite superhero. You will notice the improvement in their skills as they explore new ideas.
Nature Adventures- Go for a walk in the park and let your toddler pick up leaves and flowers they can sketch or rocks they can paint. This will allow your toddler to connect nature with arts and crafts and appreciate it’s beauty.
Singing and Dancing- Listen to happy music with your child and ask them to make a dance to it. This will encourage creativity and is also great exercise. You should join in and have some fun with them.
Language and communication skill activities
Talking to your toddler will enhance communications skills and encourage different thought processes. Take your toddler for a walk through a park or town and ask them questions like “what is that,” “what sound does that make” or “what colour is that.” Give them enough time to answer your questions and if they don’t quite answer correctly, give them hints and encourage them to keep trying. This will introduce them to new objects and sounds whilst also exposing them to the real world. After a while, they should be able to name these things quickly without assistance, but it takes persistence and patience. You can then challenge your toddler with more complicated objects such as what different sign posts mean and how to get from the park to home for example.
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Constantly finding new ways to challenge your toddler is the key to growth. Your child will grow and develop as you expose them to new things and ways of thinking! Enjoy exploring and playing with your toddler as they adventure into the big world. Continue to challenge your toddler to help them meet their growth potential with the above activities.