Deciding to keep your little one home from playgroup for a few more years is fabulous for many reasons but it comes with some drawbacks too. You may find yourself both exhausted by the intensity of caring for a toddler as well as concerned about whether you are adequately meeting her need for stimulation and socialisation.
There are simple ways to be sure you address the need for socialisation and stimulation:
Your social interaction
While you may be concerned that your toddler has no social interaction, remember that you are your little one’s best playmate for the first 3 to 4 years. But it is important that you actually play with her. Many parents find they have lost the art of play and may rely on tech to entertain their little ones. The principles for interacting socially with your little one are:
- Get down on her level – on the floor or on the grass. This ensures that she gets wonderful eye contact and focussed attention from you
- Play imaginary games – like vet-vet or a ‘tea-party’
- Put down your tech device – social interaction is hampered when caregivers use tech as it prevents focussed attention on your child
- Use adult language with a slightly higher pitched voice and short sentences so that her language is enhanced
It is worth fostering little friendships for your toddler. When she socialises at a play date, she learns to share, interact and be part of a group before going to school.
- Find a friend or neighbour with a child who is within 6 months of your child’s age to invite for a play date
- Have at least one play date scheduled a week with 2 to 4 little ones at home
Activities to stimulate her
Stimulation activities can be incorporated into all activities throughout the day. In addition to the stimulation games you play during awake times, try these activities too:
- Have your little one prepare snacks with you
- Do one outdoor picnic a day if the weather is good
- Icing biscuits and making jelly is so much for little hands and encourage fine motor skills
- Include story reading as part of midday and bedtime sleep routine to encourage language development
- A little massage is wonderful for sleep time but also stimulates the sense of touch which is important for body schema and spatial awareness
A little attention to socialisation and stimulation is a wonderful way to prepare your toddler for preschool if you have chosen to keep her at home.