Toddlers are full of surprises. If you are babysitting a toddler for the first time, it will be beneficial to learn from experienced nanny or professionals on a child developmental milestones. Just when the parents think they have the measure of the two-year-old toddler, he will suddenly add another dozen words to his vocabulary or complete a task that he could not even have attempted a few days before. At this stage, a toddler really starts to reach out to the world, picking up information from all sorts of influences and parent often find themselves asking where did he learn that? Sometimes parents will get the feeling that a big change is on its way. He seems to be on the verge of something new without actually trying to do it. He is thinking about it and storing up knowledge, which he finally unleashes and one can see a flurry of developments in quick succession – much the same as a physical growth spurt.
Obviously, it is great if daddy or mummy can be around the child to experience these steps with him, but because that is not always possible, there are many ways that parent or the babysitter can be involved and help to promote different aspects of the child’s development.
The stages that the child goes through on the path to becoming an independent person, capable of confident movement and fluid communication, are known as developmental milestones. As long as they are healthy and living in a nurturing environment, most children will reach these milestones by specific ages. But don’t be disheartened or frustrated if the toddler is not ‘hitting the targets’. These milestones act as a guide but there is a wide variety in rates of development. A good nanny can help the child develop to his full potential but it is best not to compare him to other children. While children can vary in what they achieve when, the majority will be developing perfectly normally within the accepted ranges.
There are two main key areas: physical development, which includes locomotive and manipulative skills, and mental development which covers the ability to think and communicate. Social development which is learning how to relate to and interact with others is another important skill to learn.
Parents and nannies have a big part to play in the toddler’s physical and mental development, even if parents only have a short time to give on the working days. Parent when compared to the babysitter or even to the partner, one will naturally offer different attitudes and approaches to the games and tasks that encourage the child’s development. When the child play with father, he will probably learn to do things in different ways and develop extra skills than he might learn from his mother or the babysitter. At the very least, the child’s learning will be inspired by a change of playmate and of course the relationship of parents will benefit from the increased communication.
Also known as mental development, this includes the mastery of communication skills, such as speech, reading, drawing and counting, using the imagination and remembering things. There are various ways to help promote these aspects of the child’s development, especially language skills. And, of course, talking to the toddler is one of the most important things parents and nanny can do for him.
Promoting Language Skills
Always look at the child when talking to him and use short, simple sentences. Listen to him when he is speaking and allow him to finish his sentences. Expand on the things he says, for example if he says ‘door’, you might say ‘the door is open’. Encourage him to talk to his toy and always try to describe sights and sounds to him when you are out and about. Look at books together and point out characters and familiar objects. But avoid subjecting him to a barrage of too much information and instead build quiet times into his day.
Hand-eye coordination is involved in a lot of these physical skills. As the toddler gains dexterity, he will be able to use his hands and fingers for activities such as building blocks, drawing, doing up buttons and using a spoon and fork. These skills have to be learned, so nanny need to give the toddler every opportunity to practice during babysitting. It is also another good reason for spending time with the toddler, playing and exploring together, building the relationship while he develops these essential skills.
- Show him how to unscrew lids, thread things onto string, pour water and turn pages etc
- Teach him how to do things for himself such as using a spoon and taking his socks off.
- Give him activity boards and toys that have lots of features for pressing, turning and spinning.
- Provide him with building blocks and stacking toys.
- Work together on puzzles, drawing and painting.