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Toddler - Week #102

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Your 24-month-old toddler (week 102)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Language Development
           By this point in your toddler's development, she is likely adding at least one new word to her vocabulary every day, including a few pronouns.  By age two, the grand total in her personal little dictionary is somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty words or more, however she does continue to understand about ten-times more words than she is able to actually say herself.

       From this month on, your toddler will love to wander throughout the house labeling everything in sight, and beams when she receives praise for this new skill.  She is also finally beginning to understand more about herself, and is sure to tell you all about it, specifically when it comes to her likes and more likely, her dislikes.  You may also notice that your toddler's requests are becoming more specific every day, and she is now asking for a particular toy, food or drink, taking out some of the guess-work.  Despite your toddler's new ability to communicate, which does make your life a bit easier, you can expect her demands to come at you fast and furious now because she knows that you and everyone else around finally understand her.

       Short phrases and four-word sentences will become the norm this month, and you can also expect to hear your toddler repeating everything you say.  So, although you may have been on heightened alert regarding your own vocabulary over the past few months, now is truly the time when you need use extra caution.  That is, unless you don't mind when your toddler acts out your not-so-perfect parenting moments in front of your in-laws over dinner.

       The days are finally here when you can begin to have a conversation with your toddler as well, and she is actually able to reciprocate.  Although many words remain a bit jumbled and only half of them completely understandable, with a little detective work you will now be able to banter back and forth for quite a while.

       Continue to read to your 2-year-old this month, and be sure to try out a few new nursery rhymes and songs too.  You'll be pleased when you hear your toddler singing right along with you, and even more so when you hear her making up a few news lyrics along the way.   Lastly, help your toddler to continue expanding her language skills by speaking frequently as you go throughout your day, and sometimes just allow her to listen in on a few conversations too.


Cognitive and Intellectual Development
           Your toddler's ability to make observations about the world around him is becoming more sophisticated every day.  He is able to form pictures of things in his mind when they are not visible, and is beginning to make decisions for himself.  By the age of two, his memory is growing with every interaction and his ability to recall information correctly has vastly improved.  He is even able to begin scratching the surface of learning how his body moves in space, and is able to choose the correct action words like "up," "down," "over," and "under" to describe himself as his motions change.

       This month, your toddler may understand the concept of colors, and identify many correctly.  He may even be able to sort different objects according to shape and color, and take great interest in your Tupperware drawer once again.  Reciting the alphabet and counting from 1 to 10 may also become favorite pastimes, however don't be surprised when your toddler adds his own little twist throwing in a few new letters or numbers along the way.

       Your toddler is slowly beginning to understand that just because something is "out of sight," does not mean that it is gone, and it is no longer "out of mind."  Many children this age will be able to point to and retrieve a known object from another room when requested, and even be able to find something that has been hidden under a blanket.    In order to further your toddler's understanding that things do exist although they can not be seen, it is a great idea to encourage your toddler to identify noises that he hears like a distant train or barking dog, particularly when they are not in his field of vision.

       Although it is minimal right now, your 2-year-old is slowly beginning to understand abstract concepts.  Specifically, he is now able to comprehend the ideas of "more" and "less," and put them to use in an appropriate manner (particularly when he wants more of his favorite snack).

       On a final note, you will also begin to notice that your toddler's ability to imagine and play in a more creative manner is growing every day.  Sharing in your toddler's play time is a very important part of the parenting process, so try your best to get back in touch with the two-year-old you used to be, and wander around in your toddler's little world for just a little while.


           Nursery Rhymes       

       Nursery Rhymes are not only a great way to entertain your toddler this month, they are also great distracters that can help re-direct even the most stubborn little two-year-old.  Songs like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Pat A Cake, Rain Rain Go Away, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Hey Diddle Diddle are but a few of the classics you can start with, and you may actually be surprised by the large assortment of others that you have stored away unbeknownst to you from childhood.

       By incorporating these rhymes into your toddler's every day routine, you are setting a rock-solid foundation necessary for "reading readiness," and actually getting a jump-start on making the process of learning to read a little easier.  Also, as you sing the lyrics to your chosen rhymes, make an extra effort to be aware of the isolated sounds that make-up the words instead of thinking of them as a whole.  This technique will not only aid your toddler in understanding what you're saying, but it will also make the memorization process a little easier as well.

       Remember that at 24 months, your toddler is learning new words every day.  Often our language is mumbled so quickly that little ones can have a difficult time understanding what anyone is saying.  Because of this, take your time and slowly enunciate each lyric, really breaking each one down in its simplest form for your toddler to learn.  While you're at it, you can also go ahead and clap out the beat that goes along with each syllable, it's never too early to teach your toddler a little rhythm along the way as well.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           It is amazing to me how quickly the language skills of my twin 24-month-old boys are developing.  It seems like only yesterday there wasn't a peep and now...well, let's just say that silence is hard to come by.  Besides the personal little language that Andrew and Devin have created themselves, I can't help but smile when I hear one of them trying to carry a little tune or sing quietly to themselves.

       This singing activity seemed like a fun activity to do with my toddler's for my own selfish reason of wanting to hear their little tone-deaf voices, and also to see how much they have actually absorbed listening to me squeak out a few songs over the past two years.

       We began our little concert by singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Andrew became quite upset believing he was being sent off to sleep (we regularly sing this before bed).  Once he understood we were solely playing, he stepped right in and joined our little choir belting out his own rendition of "dinkle, dinkle diddle dar."

       Next, we moved onto the Itsy, Bitsy Spider and Devin quickly shouted, "NO!"  With this veto I gave Baa, Baa Black Sheep a go, and was met with the same "NO!" response, but this time from Andrew.  Thinking I was out of luck, I struggled to come up with a few more fun songs from my repertoire that were all shot down.

       Now this had become a race between Andrew and Devin to see who could be the first to shout "NO!" as soon as I began to utter the first syllable of any song I chose.  I love how they've learned to team up on me already at 24 months.  Finally after giving into their game, I threw my hands up in the air and said, "You sing!" pointing at Andrew.  Moments later Andrew says, "Dar Wars?" and began to belt out the Star Wars theme that he has heard over and over again on his older brother's Lego game.  So much for a nice afternoon of Nursery Rhymes.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Why does my 2-year-old suddenly ask so many questions?       

       The typical 2-year-old toddler loves to make conversation, and when there is a lull she will often fill it with an outpouring of "Why?" questions.  This month your toddler also gets an enormous amount of satisfaction from asking questions that cause you to stop whatever it is that you're doing and respond.  So, call it a desire for having slight control over you and gaining your full attention, even if it is just for a few moments.

       Also, there are times that your toddler may just want an explanation for something, and she doesn't have the correct words or vocabulary to express her curiosity yet.  This month, you are being given the perfect practice ground for your toddler to practice the language that she has already developed, but your responses will allow her to add a few new words to it as well.

       Be sure to respond to her rapid firing of questions because her natural curiosity about the world may be stifled if she is ignored.  Like every thing else this month, this over-abundance of "Whys" is once again a true testament to your patience, so keep the answers flowing as long as the questions are coming.  Use your daily inquisitions as an opportunity to begin explaining new things to your toddler, and don't be afraid to use the old "Because I said so" line once in a while either.


How to set up an outdoor learning center
By Pam Worthen, edHelperBaby

           A parent does not need a large area to set up an outdoor learning area for your child. Any small area such as a balcony or patio can be used. Start by setting out a bird feeder.  You can purchase a certain type of food for a specific bird in your area that you would like to attract or just get a general food and see who comes to visit.  I wanted to attract the American Goldfinch so I purchased an upside down feeder and filled it with thistle seed.  The American Goldfinch did come and we were so excited.  I also purchased cardinal food which consists of sunflower seeds, fruits and nuts.  We now have several cardinals that visit us throughout the year.       

       Adding a bird bath to your garden is also an excellent way to attract different birds.  Only a few species of birds will come to the food in the feeders, but all birds need water and a bath.  I have seen Eastern Blue Birds, a falcon and a parakeet at our bird bath. Change the bird bath water once a week and you will not have a problem with mosquitoes.       

       The next thing you can do is plant some flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If you have a yard, you can plant a garden with perennials. If not you can use a window box or planter on a porch or balcony and plant annuals.  You could even just put up a hanging flower basket close to a window or door so you can keep an eye out for visitors.  Some great perennials I have used are:
  • bee balm
  • butterfly bush
  • Cosmo
  • Columbine
  • dahlia
  • foxglove
  • sage
       The annuals I have tried are:
  • petunia
  • zinnia
  • nasturtium
  • geranium

       I have to mention that if you put up a hummingbird feeder, please make sure you clean them out regularly.  The birds get sick from the mildew in the feeders.  I see so many people who are not aware of this fact and leave their feeders out with mildew growing in them.  You can make the food yourself.  Boil 1 cup of water with 1/4 cup of sugar.  Let it cool and then place in your feeder.  Clean weekly in hot weather.  The food does not have to be dyed red to attract them, usually every feeder has red on them.  We use this solution and have at least four hummingbirds every year.  Especially, watch for the hummingbirds on rainy days as they love to come out and play in the rain.       

       What would really be  great is to add a small pond if you have the room.  A plastic tub will do on a patio as long as you bring it indoors for winter if you have freezing temperatures where you live.  You can add a few fish.  The fish do not have to be the expensive koi but you can go to your local pet store and start out with some feeder goldfish.  I have started many ponds with them and some have grown to eight inches long.  Every year we purchase two tadpoles so that we can watch them turn into a frog.  Even children as young as six months can get excited over this transformation.  Once the tadpoles have four legs and are spending time outside of the water we place them outside in our pond.  This year the two frogs we raised last year laid eggs in our pond so we could observe the eggs turning into tadpoles!  If you are worried about mosquitoes, do not as the fish will eat the mosquito larvae.  Mosquitoes need calm water in order to lay their eggs.  So instead of adding ingredients to the water, all you need to do is stir the water up a bit and they can not breed.       

       Just by doing a few of the above you will bring nature to your backyard.  We need to teach a love of nature to our children after all they are the ones who will have to preserve it for their children.  Who would have thought by doing something so simple, you can raise you child's academic scores.  Do not think you have to wait until your child is older to begin this.  You should start before they are one year of age as they already have a natural love for plants, animals and insects. I hope you enjoy your project as much as we enjoy ours!       


Thriving Artist
By Pam Worthen, About my child Leah

           At twenty-three months old, your child can copy circles and create line drawings.  Drawing is one of Leah's favorite things to do.  Every time she sees a pen or pencil she wants paper to draw on.  She is really good about not putting the pens or pencils in her mouth but you may have to watch your child to make sure she does not put these in her mouth.  Her new favorite thing is peeling the crayons.  She has to peel the paper off or "fix it" in her words before she can color.  She has been interested in this for quite a while now.  I home school my nine year old daughter, Melanie, so Leah sits at the kitchen table with us and draws or colors for her school work and it makes her feel all grown up.  I have to work on my artist skills also because she always asks me to draw something on her paper.  Remember anything you draw will seem beautiful to them so give it a try!  The more they practice drawing the better they will become.


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