Zip, Zap, Zoom… where has the year gone.. !! Phew.. But I am sure that it was the most amazing year for you as parents. Watching your little miracle grow and attain his/her milestones is so rewarding. It is amazing to see how these little angels just seem to learn many of the first’s so naturally and instinctively. You have captured their first tooth, first step, first walk and first play at the playground.
Daily life is one big adventure for a newly mobile toddler. I always tell mothers (and remind myself too), “THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF A CHILD IS TO MOVE, LET HIM”.
As your little one now enters his/her second important phase of development, let’s look at the various key points of cognitive development that you need to watch out for.
Cognitive Development that you can expect at this stage:
- Play is the major part of the child’s daily activities. The child will spend a lot of time exploring and manipulating objects, putting in their mouth, shaking and banging them.
- The child is quite independent and mobile at this stage. The child should be able to ask for simple things by pointing to objects like snacks, water, cup and ball.
- The child recognizes himself in the mirror and smiles. He should be able to point to his/her body parts like "Where's your nose? Where is your belly? Your feet?.”
- Children at this age also understand the word "no" and can pick up on your tone of voice and facial expressions.
- Simple one step instructions are followed by the child. If you give a simple direction like "kick the ball," your child should be able to respond correctly.
- A child by 18 months shall be able to correlate everyday items like toothbrush, hairbrush, mop and broom to their specific uses. I can bet you that the broom will be their favorite go to item.
- A child by 16-18 months will enjoy the art of scribbling. Make sure to be firm as to not allow scribbling on walls. A firm NO now will pave the way for future.
- Your child will have an increased sense of self awareness of being an individual (particular likes and dislikes) in terms of food, activities and play.
- It is somehow selfishly satisfying to watch your child display signs of jealousy when you give attention to another child.
- The child can sort according to shapes and colours. This is a great time to start developing the motor skills by using shape sorters, stacking rings and cups for cognitive development.
How you can boost cognitive development:
- Read to your child! He is soaking up so much information at this age. Make sure to have a reading routine embedded into your daily life.
- Sing songs with your child and encourage him to sing along with you. Play his favourite songs and music in the house and car regularly and he may eventually start singing along by himself. This activity helps promote memory and word identification.
- Have your child identify noises that he hears throughout the day (i.e. a bird singing, a car horn, running water or the dishwasher). He will begin to understand how sounds relate to objects in his everyday environment.
- I am a big advocate of learning using play but on a budget. Playing with everyday household items is educational, fun and cost effective. Encourage your child to match various-sized lids to their accompanying pots or have him look in a mirror and point to his nose, mouth, eyes, etc.
- Start inculcating the choice system in your child. By presenting her with choices, you can let your baby take the lead while still staying in control. “Will you have orange or apple?.” Or “ Do you want the red ball or the blocks to play?.”
- Pretend play should play a major role in your child’s play routine. Start simple pretend play, like feeding a stuffed animal or taking care of a sick puppy or having a tea party. Independent pretend play is an crucial and important milestone that the child should perform and exercise for healthy development.
- Start introducing vocabulary to the child by exposing the child to a minimum of 5 similar items in a particular category and naming them. For example; taking the category of fruits, introduce any 5 fruits either using flashcards or actual fruits or pretend play fruit to the child.
- Music, melodies and lyrics help young children grasp concepts much faster. Dance, sing and enjoy this precious little phase with your little ones. Introduce the sounds of different musical instruments to your child.
- Encourage toys that offer sensory experiences. Play-dough, sand, water, finger paints are some brilliant materials that you can offer your toddler.
- Children begin to understand that each object/symbol has a meaning. For example, they may hold a phone to their ear and pretend to talk / say hello. He/she may pick toy fruits and vegetables and pretend to eat them. Symbolic play serves as a base for fantasy play in the future.
As your child makes his/her way into the important and vital stage of “ToddlerHood”, you should now encourage, observe and learn your child’s learning pattern and behavior. Observe which hand your child uses(hand dominance), choice of toys, behavioral patterns if unsuccessful in stacking or getting a toy, and their general pattern of playing. This will help us in designing their next year goals. Till next time, “Happy Playing, Happy Exploring”.