Toddlers typically have a very short attention span. Time means nothing and a few minutes can seem like forever to a toddler.
They are meant to flit from one activity to the next, building up as many experiences as possible. Remember they have a lot of ground to cover.
Don’t expect an 18 month old to sit still and build a puzzle, read, post etc for more than a few minutes. Life’s experiences are taken in small bites and as often as possible.
This is one of the reasons you should offer a variety of activities and often don’t spend too many minutes on one in particular. You might find that your toddler surprises you and gets involved in an activity for more than a few minutes. If we manage seven minutes we are ecstatic. That’s good going, but don’t expect that every time.
For your little toddler to focus on an activity for more than a few minutes he has to find it interesting, it has to be new to him and he must be able to master the skill. If it’s too difficult he will get frustrated and move on. Being able to master a skill and then repeat it gives them a sense of accomplishment. I can do this, and I can do it well.
Challenge your toddler. They might not grasp the activity straight away but practice makes perfect. Varied experiences with different activities will give them many opportunities to learn about life and how things work.
When posting a ping pong ball through a swimming pool tube, you learn that the ball comes out the other side. When making holes in play dough you are strengthening your finger muscles. Pouring from one container to another teaches you about full and empty. The lessons are endless.
Research has shown that toddlers need to be on the move taking in as much of life as they possibly can so that they have references to refer back to later. Give your toddler as many opportunities as possible to explore the world around them. Remember learning has to be FUN!
Written by Liz Victor – late CEO of Toptots Early Learning SA