Totter + Tumble Support Circle: Toddlerhood to School Days
The Totter + Tumble Support Circle series is rooted in connection and support. We have been inspired to create content that will connect you to businesses and resources who can support your unique parenting journey.
In Series Four: Toddlerhood to School Days, we look at resources to support toddler and preschoolers continuing development, with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing, learning and leaps as well as communication and interactions. Please do seek support from your Health Visitor, GP or local charities if you need support or have any concerns.
Movement + Wellbeing
The definition of ‘toddler’ is a child just learning to walk. Typically this milestone occurs between 12 and 36 months and once they take to their feet, you enter a new chapter of adventure. As well as allowing opportunities for physical activity, now is a great time to support and nurture your child’s mental health too.
An outside environment gives children space to learn new skills while enjoying vital physical activity. Whether it’s kicking a ball, flying a kite, letting off steam in a play park or attending an outside activity, such as forest school, your little one will likely have a natural tendency for exploring outdoors at this age. If you need encouragement, there are incredible resources to support a healthy habit of outside play, such as 1000 hours outside.
From a regular class to a spur of the moment hike, make time to be together in the Great Outdoors. Tired little legs? No problem. Invest or hire an on-the-back carrier from your local sling library, so they can take in the view while you do the hard work, but your preschoolers may be able to outwalk you! Participate in community-based, free fitness events such as ParkPlay, or look for initiatives to keep you all committed to family fitness, such as The Daily Mile. In person family yoga classes are growing in popularity or you can enjoy an online video together from the comfort of your own home.
Your child will have big emotions at this stage and may have trouble regulating them, but most tantrums will dissipate before they start full time school. Help them to find moments of calm by discussing what they can see, smell and feel on a walk to engage their senses, introduce a breathing buddy to help them to learn to regulate their breathing and integrate evening meditation or ‘beditation’ into their bedtime routine, to assist with unwinding and decompressing at the end of the day. These simple ideas, which can be instilled into daily routines, will help your child have a stronger connection to their own body and mind.
Learning + Leaps
The toddler to preschooler age is a stage of ongoing transition. From motor skill development, to an increasing dialect and toilet training, it can feel like there are incessant changes. And that can be tough. Finding support for these is often key and can relieve pressure for everyone. Remember, you are not alone!
Play To Learn
Advocate for school reform and author John Holt said, 'Learning is as natural as breathing' for small children, with the foundation of learning at this age being through play. Through play, a whole host of skills are worked out, from language to fine motor movement. Toy rotation is an easy way to keep their interest and role play can harness imagination in play. Got an animal enthusiast? Why not create their own veterinary surgery, complete with bandages and x-rays for their stuffed spiky friends and dinosaur books to develop their interest further. If you need inspiration, #playtolearn has over 430K tags on instagram and is growing daily.
New People + Places
New people and places can be overwhelming at this stage and your child may seem to regress. Major changes, as in adulthood, require a period of adaptation and while some will be adjusted to quickly, it may take a few months for your child to feel at ease with others. These changes may include settling into preschool, welcoming a new sibling or moving into a ‘big kids’ bed. Alongside patience and reassurance, having an open dialogue with your child and using resources such as Toddler Fun Learning videos aimed for this age group, can help your child to prepare. Need advice through a particularly tricky transition? Reach out to family, friends or find others in the same boat on a parenting app, like Peanut.
During these years, your child will be developing skills to tackle tasks independently. And they’ll love showing them off! From undoing velcro straps on shoes to pulling a sweater over their head, your child will see repetitive actions in daily routines and will be keen to master elements, it may just take some practice. You may have a very keen helper on hand too, excited to do simple household chores such as putting laundry into the washing machine. Around this stage you are likely to be switching nappies for the potty or toilet as well. If you need a helping hand there are courses like Big Little Feelings and many useful books available. The saying, 'You'll know when they are ready' really is true and there is no hurry.
Communication + Interaction
Interaction isn’t only through words, but also through body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact, sounds and physical touch. Your little ones may have an extensive vocabulary by the time they go to school or they may have their own special way of communicating with you. Initiate and nurture, with nursery rhymes, games such as I-Spy, reading and play.
Between 3 and 5 years old, your child’s communication skills will be rapidly growing. Likely with words, but there are other effective forms for children who cannot or struggle with verbal communication. Makaton supports communication skills, including attention and listening, comprehension, memory and expression. With verbal language, sing-a-longs encourage learning through repetition. Super Simple have brilliant educational videos for this age group, but be warned, you will be repeating the songs too.
Introduction To Books
Books are brilliant and making them habitual from an early age will inspire your child to be passionate about reading. Before they learn to read, you can introduce stories in a playful way, such as with story sacks, which help to bring the tales or poems to life with props. Audio books are another brilliant way for children to enjoy stories. Yoto and Tonies are innovative, screen-free audio devices that are ideal for this age group and beyond.
Children will begin to form friendships the more they socialise with others but it takes practice to be a good friend. Your little one will need to learn important social skills as they spend time with their peers, including sharing, taking turns, listening and resolving conflict. Talking about friendships with your child and helping them see a connection between kindness and being a good friend is a valuable lesson they'll carry through life. If your child has a vivid imagination, they may talk about imaginary friends at this age as well, this is a normal, healthy and adorable element of childhood play.
MOVEMENT + WELLBEING RESOURCES
1000 Hours Outside - Inspiring quality screen-free time outside
The Daily Mile - Improving the all-round health and wellbeing of children
ParkPlay - Building happier, healthier communities through the power of play
Glo - Family-friendly Yoga classes from the comfort of your own home
Headspace for Kids - Meditation for children, best from 3 years +
Here For You For Them - Yoga and mindfulness for children, to help build their emotional awareness
LEARNING + LEAPS RESOURCES
Big Little Feelings - Really good courses for parents of 1-6 year olds
The Parenting Junkie - Find episodes that cover just the topics you need help with
Zero to Three - Topical resources to support development through the toddler years
Parenting Chaos - Printables and ideas to enhance your child's learning
Toddler Fun Learning - Seriously fun learning videos for little ones
@playful_den - Inspiring families and communities to live playfully
COMMUNICATION + INTERACTION RESOURCES
Makaton With Lucinda - Family videos with a trained Makaton tutor
Something Special - Songs, rhymes and visual humour to help develop communication
Super Simple Caitie - Songs for toddlers and preschoolers, that the whole family will be singing
Alphatots - An engaging, sing-a-long app for up to 5 years of age
Reading Eggs - A subscription reading platform for 2 years+
Yoto - Screen-free audio player for children
Tonies - A Magical, musical storybox
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