5 Skills to Teach Toddlers to Prepare Them for Preschool

5 Skills to Teach Toddlers to Prepare Them for Preschool

Although nursery may seem like all fun and play for kids and parents, it is a crucial stage in everyone’s life.

Preschool gives children a strong start and foundation for their future education. If they have great memories of nursery school, they will be happier and more excited for the next academic year. They will also be more motivated to do well in their succeeding classes due to an innate interest in and love for learning developed during their first year of school.

Because of this, it is essential that kids find their first year of school enjoyable and full of wonderful learning experiences.

5 Skills to Teach Toddlers to Prepare Them for Preschool

Skills That Will Help Kids Shine in Preschool

Toddlers who have the right skillset tend to be more prepared and confident when they enter the best nursery school for baby development. These skills will help them adapt to a new setting smoothly, and actively participate in all the activities they will be given.

More importantly, these skills will enable them to have an easier time as they learn new concepts inside and outside the classroom.

As a parent, you can start helping your kids develop and polish these skills when they reach the age of two. Toddlers are naturally curious and are eager to learn. Because of these reasons, they will be more receptive to your instructions.

Below are the five essential skills that you can start teaching your toddlers to help them be more prepared when they enter preschool:


1.    Self-help skills

Toddlers depend on their parents, older siblings, and other caregivers for just about everything. Most of the time, they are dependent on you, the parent, since you are always with them.

But once toddlers enter preschool, you won’t be with them inside the classroom or campus. Because of this, they won’t always get help anytime they need it. When they fail to get assistance, they may become frustrated and start throwing tantrums – something that you don’t want them to do in school.

Teaching toddlers to be independent will help them function and behave better when they enter nursery school. A great way to start doing this is to teach them basic self-care skills such as buttoning their shirts, wiping their nose, and washing their hands on their own.

To make young kids school-ready, teach them how to open a snack container and water bottles.  Start teaching them how to undress and put on their PJs at night. Allow them to pick out their outfits for the next day as well.


2.    Communication skills

Speaking and listening are things that everyone does all the time, even toddlers. However, many kids who go to preschool have a limited vocabulary or do not communicate at all. These children often encounter difficulties inside the classroom.

It is crucial to help toddlers develop good language skills because when they can communicate well, they can express their wants and needs clearly. When the person they are talking to understands them and provides the expected response or action, these young kids will feel less frustrated.

Additionally, the ability to communicate well will also help kids create positive relationships with their classmates, playmates, and friends.

Reading books to kids and playing games that sharpen their listening proficiency, such as Simon Says, will allow them to improve their abilities in communicating. Having conversations with them throughout the day will enable them to have better language skills as well.


3.    Self-regulating skills

When kids are placed in a group setting, such as inside the classroom, they need to know how to behave or react in a socially acceptable manner. They can do this when they have self-regulating skills.

Self-regulation refers to the ability to acquire, maintain, and change one’s behavior, emotion, and activity level that is most suitable for the situation or task at hand.

Kids that can control their emotions, manage the way they think and behave, and focus their attention will have an easier time adjusting to the changes that they will encounter in school.

Self-regulating skills, unfortunately, can be quite hard to teach to toddlers. These skills often take a lot of time to learn. Additionally, some kids tend to be slower in developing them.

However, this doesn’t mean you should give up trying to teach toddlers self-regulation. Playing some simple, fun games will help kids develop this skill.

Examples of these games are Freeze Dance, Musical Chairs, Traffic Lights, and Jenga. These activities let children practice self-control, and teach them how to behave properly whether they are winning or losing.


4.    Social skills

Once kids start going to school, their social circle becomes bigger. They will meet and interact with their teachers and other children their age (their classmates). They will also mingle with other students from other classes or grades, and the adults or staff in the school.

Since they will be interacting with these people almost every day, they have to know how to make nice with them. As such, you have to teach toddlers how to engage in reciprocal, appropriate situations with others verbally and non-verbally.

Teaching toddlers how to listen actively, take turns, and practice good manners such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is an excellent way of helping them develop the proper social skills.

Playing board games with your kids and letting them join playdates are also great for teaching them to share and be patient as they wait for their turn. When you let them play with other children, you will give them more opportunities to hone their social skills.


5.    Motor skills

Lastly, kids will be taught and be asked to start writing their ABCs and the basic numbers in nursery school. They will have an easier time learning and mastering them if they already have good fine motor skills.

Fine motor skills refer to movements that involve the small muscle groups such as those in the hand and wrist. These are the muscles used in writing, coloring, painting, and holding scissors.

When kids know how to hold a pencil, crayon, and pair of scissors properly at home, they will have no difficulties doing the same in school. Because of this, you won’t go wrong teaching two-year-old toddlers how to write, color, and cut using scissors, and assisting them when they want to do these activities on their own.

Children in preschool will also be asked to dance, run, jump, and engage in other fun physical activities so that they can get some exercise. As such, you also need to help them develop their gross motor skills – movements that involve or are related to larger muscles such as the arms, legs, and trunk.

Toddlers typically have no difficulties developing and improving their gross motor skills since they often get various opportunities to work on them. When you let them play at a playground, explore a local park, and allow them to engage in play-based activities with other children, they enhance these skills.


Although teaching toddlers these skills is essential in giving them a good head start before they attend a British nursery school Dubai (or wherever you reside), you must never pressure and force them to learn them quickly. You have to understand that children have different learning abilities.

If you think your kids are not acquiring these proficiencies fast enough, do not rush them. Be patient and allow them to develop these skills in their own time and way.

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14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you are a parent with a baby that is more than a month old, you have probably heard about the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3).  This is a questionnaire that you will fill out every couple of months for your baby for the first five years, and it’s designed to screen for developmental delays.  The questions center around development in skills separated into 5 categories – communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social.  Each category contains 6 skills and asks you to rank each one on whether your child does it always, sometimes or not yet.  The score for each category is compared to what is considered average for a child of the same age.  It then is easy to tell if your child is at risk or falling behind in a certain category. 

While all the categories are important, this article answers the question “how to help baby develop gross motor skills” by focusing on activities that can be used to improve gross motor skill development in babies up to 18 months old.

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

My son is one of those kids that is overly cautious and not into working any harder than necessary.  The result is that he has been behind in gross motor skill development pretty chronically for the first 1.5 years of his life despite being on track for the other 4 ASQ-3 categories. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some activities to incorporate to encourage the development of these important skills.  However, before you start, you will want to figure out what motivates your child.  For my son, food and car keys were the ultimate motivators.  Other items just didn’t hold enough appeal to get him to do things he didn’t want to.

Babies Not Yet Crawling

If your baby isn’t crawling yet, then focus on activities that build a strong motor skill base.

            Tummy Time

Tummy time is important from birth.  This is the first type of exercise baby will do start working on those motor skills.  If your baby hates tummy time, don’t be disheartened.  There are ways to do modified tummy time to get baby used to the idea.  Some ways to modify include using a Boppy pillow to prop baby’s chest up and laying on your back and putting baby on your chest.  These methods get baby off her back and used to being on her stomach.  However, it’s important to eventually progress to traditional tummy time for the full benefits.  You should aim for increasing amounts of tummy time (at least 30 to 60 minutes a day), but this can be broken down into sessions that are only a couple of minutes long.  Doing a minute or two of tummy time after every diaper change is a way to get in some good practice.


            Rolling

Rolling is one of the first major gross motor milestones.  Lots of tummy time helps encourage this skill, but once baby develops it, keep encouraging rolling.  Rolling is a great way for baby to start getting from point A to point B before crawling, and all that rolling helps further strengthen the abdominal muscles which are important for the upcoming gross motor milestones.

Baby rolling over to reach a toy is a great way to encourage motor skill development.

            Sitting

Baby will likely want to sit and look around well before she is actually able to stay upright on her own.  Encourage this by sitting baby on the floor between your legs.  Let her use your legs to help balance.  Slowly decrease the amount of support you provide and see how long she can sit before you need to help her rebalance.  At first this will be exhausting for baby but doing this consistently will quickly build up her stamina.

Baby sitting in a Bumbo seat to strengthen gross motor skills.

            Kneeling

Once baby has the core strength to roll over and stay sitting on his own, you can start encouraging him being on his knees.  There are a few ways to go about doing this.  An activity table is great because it’s low enough that baby can kneel and reach the buttons.  However, it’s too high to reach them while sitting.  Putting baby on his knees to balance against the table and play helps him get used to supporting his weight with his knees which is important for crawling. 

You can also help baby get into a crawling position and hold the hands and knees pose for a minute.  This can be done by helping to support baby’s legs in the crawling position and gradually decrease the support as baby gets stronger.

Baby kneeling by a play table helps get him ready to crawl.

            Jumperoos

Jumperoos can be fun for babies as they start to reach the point of having enough core strength to sit up.  These encourage putting weight on the legs and bending the knees to bounce.  However, keep in mind that while the legs get stronger, the support provided by the jumperoo is enough that core strength isn’t developed as much, so it’s important to encourage core strength development through other methods.

Note: Some babies are very interested and willing to get moving.  However, others are more reluctant and would prefer to have mom and dad (or older siblings) move them from point A to B.  Pay attention to your baby’s personality and know that you may have to let him struggle for a bit to learn that he is capable of moving himself.  With my son, he learned to roll, sit and stand while leaning against something.  However, he had no desire to move himself from laying to sitting or sitting to standing. 

A baby sitting in a Jumperoo and smiling.

Babies That Are Crawling (or close to it)

            Encourage Pulling To Stand

Before baby can walk, he has to be able to stand.  Some babies quickly figure out that they can get into a lot more trouble by pulling up on coffee tables and grabbing papers, cell phones or food.  However, if your child is more hesitant, pull out the super desirable object you identified at the beginning and place it on a low table.  Make sure your child is sitting near the table and knows the object is there. For some children that may be enough to entice them to stand.


Couch Climbing

If your baby isn’t willing to pull up on a coffee table, you may need to start with a lower object.  In this case, remove your couch cushion.  Sit baby on the floor by the cushion-less couch and use your tempting object to convince baby to pull up.  You may need to provide a little boost, and that’s okay.  Keep trying and each time provide a little less help.  Chances are good, baby will figure out he actually is capable of doing it himself. 

Once your child is pulling up, you can still use the cushion-less couch trick to teach baby to climb onto things.  A couch without a cushion is the perfect height for a new climber to gain some confidence.


            Playgrounds

Climbing is great for babies to continue developing their gross motor skills.  Playgrounds with play equipment involving steps, tunnels and slides are great for encouraging your child to explore, navigate different terrain and work on those climbing skills.  I suggest finding a playground that has separate play areas for little kids versus older kids.  This seems to keep a slower paced area that is safe for your little one to play without getting trampled by the bigger kids.  These little kid play areas are usually shorter which makes it easier for you to stay close and offer a helping hand while keeping your feet on the ground.

If you are struggling with bad weather, don’t forget to look for indoor playground options.  Many fast food restaurants and shopping malls have indoor play areas.  Many cities have indoor play centers of various designs as well.  These places can be great for getting energy out of a new mover on a rainy day.

Toddler playing at a playground.  Playgrounds are a great way to encourage gross motor skill development.

            Push Toys

Sometimes our kids are reluctant to walk because they lack confidence.  Push toys can be great for strengthening the walking muscles but still providing a secure, supportive feeling.  I really like this Melissa and Doug Alligator Push Toy as a starter push toy.  It’s solid and sturdy which provides a lot of support.  However, once walking with this got easy, a plastic push lawn mower was a good next step.  The plastic push toy wasn’t as stable, so it required more self-support from my son. 

I suggest incorporating a walk with the push toy into your daily routine.  We started walking down the street every day after I got home from work.  My son would push his toy down the sidewalk, and I would supervise and make sure he stayed on the sidewalk.  This helped him develop the necessary muscles while still feeling secure.  I found walking outside was more effective than inside because inside he kept running into things and would quickly get frustrated.


            Toys Requiring Hands-Free Standing

Toys that require your toddler to stand without holding own are great for distracting them enough that they will stand without support.  We got a plastic t-ball set that my son was intrigued by enough that he would stand and take an occasional step without any support. 


            Shopping Carts

This goes along with encouraging more walking.  Some stores have kid-sized carts that are just the right height.  However, if your local stores don’t have these tiny carts, kids can still help push the full-sized cart.  You will need to help, but pushing a big cart makes your toddler feel important and gets in valuable walking muscle exercise while you are shopping.


            Walking While Holding A Hand

Once our son would walk while holding someone’s hand, we started having him walk everywhere holding a hand.  When we went to the store, we would have him walk from the car into the store while holding our hands.  When we run errands, he spends a lot of time in a car seat, so this routine helps him get exercise while we get things done. 

We found that this, plus daily push toy walks and pushing the shopping carts really helped him get the confidence to take his first steps.


            Walking On Uneven Ground

Walking on surfaces that are completely (or almost) flat and hard is a great way to start.  However, to up the difficulty level for your little one that doesn’t want to let go of your hand, go for some uneven surfaces.  Walking through the grass or on the mulch at a playground is a great way to work on stabilizing muscles.


            Tempt the First Steps

Eventually, your little one will need to get brave and take the first unsupported steps.  You will start to notice when your child is ready to take the first steps and just needs to develop the confidence.  This is where you can pull out the shiny object you identified above.  Tempt your child with something they love but usually can’t play with, but only allow them to have it if they are standing unsupported.  You can also encourage them to step forward one or two steps to reach it.  Just make sure that you do provide the reward and let your child play with the object.

We did this with our son and car keys.  We went into the middle of the room and stood him up, then gave him the keys and let him stand on his own.  He was so entertained that he forgot that he wasn’t holding onto anything.  When he would realize and sit down, the keys went away, and we would start over.  We then started getting him to take one or two steps to get the keys.  Once we did that a couple of times, he suddenly realized he could walk and started walking everywhere.

Toddler standing up and looking in a wallet.

Did your child take off walking early or were they a late walker?  What worked for you to encourage gross motor skills?

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How to Help Your Toddler to Start Talking?

How to Help Your Toddler to Start Talking?

Every parent wants their children to develop in the usual way. If their kids don’t start speaking until a certain moment in their lives, parents become concerned about their children’s speaking ability.

In that case, it’s important that you don’t put additional stress on your kid’s back.

What you should do is help them to start uttering words and phrases in many amusing ways.

Here’s what I think can be useful for every parent and toddler.

How to Help Your Toddler to Start Talking?

1)    Use short words and speak slowly

The reasons why your toddler still doesn’t want to speak may vary. If you and your partner tend to speak too fast and use too many words, that could confuse your toddler.

Also, the kid will recognize if you don’t include him or her in your conversations.

For starters, you need to address your toddler as much as possible. You should do that using short words that the kid can relate to.

Instead of saying ‘Take that toy and put it back in the box’, you can take the toy and say ‘The bear is going to sleep’. In the latter example, the keywords are the bear and sleep. You can also imitate the act of sleeping to provide another illustration for the meaning of the word.

parents walking with a toddler

When you’re cooking, show every ingredient you use to your kid and name it. You can keep repeating the drill. Then you can also add colors to the activity in one of the later repetitions.

If you use more short words related to tangible things in your home, the toddler is more likely to memorize them.

2)    Wake up the animator inside you

For some toddlers, it’s not enough just to keep showing them things and naming them.

Simply put, some kids are more demanding, and we don’t say that in a negative way.

On the contrary, they simply aren’t easily amused. If you and your partner are such people, it’s highly likely that your toddler will follow suit.

In that case, both of you need to wake up the animator inside you. This means that you should use more facial expressions and physical motion when you’re teaching your toddler to speak.

Here are some actions and expressions you should use frequently:

  • Nod your head when saying ‘Yes’ and shake it when you mean ‘No’.
  • Point to the things you want your kid to bring to you or put into the box.
  • Imitate eating when you’re feeding your toddler.
  • Do the actions from the songs you’re singing, such as “If You’re Happy” and use other expressions to boost your toddler’s speech.

You can also make up songs using some common words from your kid’s everyday environment. Those songs need to be short and simple, just like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”.

If you notice that your kid likes to play Hide and Seek, you can hide different toys and objects around the house. The act of finding those things and naming them with you will be delightful for your toddler. As a result, he or she might learn how to name them.

mom reading to a toddler

3)    Encourage speech in all situations

Some children might find it easier to speak in their comfort zone. That’s why your toddler might want to talk at home but be hesitant about it outside.

This is where you should play a boosting role and encourage them to keep saying words everywhere they go.

For instance, when you’re at a supermarket, you can turn the entire process into a word-learning game. You can let your kid touch different fruit and vegetables and name them. As explained by the London nanny experts, some toddlers are kinesthetic learners, i.e. they learn more easily through touching and moving. Parents and nannies need to ensure that such kids can learn things in their favorite way.

Moreover, you can join your child in playground activities. While the kid is swinging, you can encourage him or her to say the colors of the clouds and the trees in the park.

If you teach your kid words in a fun way outside the house, they’ll be excited to go out with you and do those activities.

toddler pushing a small cart through a grocery store

4)    Treat them with respect

Speech development is a part of the toddler’s cognitive development. That’s why it’s important to treat your kid with respect to everything he or she does.

For starters, avoid yelling at them, especially immediately after they’ve just learned a new word. Even if you’re raising your voice for a good cause, they might not be able to understand that.

Also, avoid using baby talk with older toddlers. You may notice how toddlers aged 2 or 3 refer to those younger ones as babies. It’s important for them to feel they’re treated in accordance with their age.

Likewise, expose them to appropriate teaching materials. Instead of plain baby books with words, use classic picture books and stories for bedtime.

Conclusion

Every kid has their own tempo in everything they do. The same goes for the development of speech. Parents need to be patient and keep doing the things recommended by speech therapists and experts.

In many cases, toddlers say only a few words and then start babbling overnight. There’s no reason to worry as long as your toddler is generally developing in a natural way.

So, apply our strategies in your daily activities with your toddler and always show your kids ultimate support in everything they do. Eventually, they’ll be able to utter more and more words.