A person’s a person no matter how small. ~ Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss
Can you believe your tiny, cuddly Newborn, though still pretty new, especially to you & yours, is already A YEAR OLD!?!
Have a fun party? Take LOTS of pictures for that interactive Literacy book?
Crawling? Walking? Running? If not yet, your Pre-Toddler will soon be moving faster it seems than, at times, the speed of light!
Physical Mobility & Sensory Exploration with these newly acquired skills is the name of his/her action plan! And when those gleeful giggles & babblings become quiet, “UH-OH”……
S/he is SO ready to get hands & lips on all those previously unattainable & exciting discoveries. Cabinet doors are the most inviting. Pulling up on everything is fair game. Grabbing & mouthing anything within reach is a given (think pet food on the floor….). Childproofing is a definite MUST! My little cub could be found foraging in the refrigerator unless he was asleep!
Wondering Why I Name This Age Group “Pre-Toddler”?
My Pre-Toddler seldom crawled on hands & knees. He preferred the “bear-crawl”, cub that he was,or moving on his hands & feet together. He was upright & run-walking before 12 months. A mixed blessing for me -immature access, but easier on my back!
Not all babies are toddling by the first year. Some personalities love to sit and, if the mood strikes them, crawl. Some crawlers are very happy, and very fast, moving on hands & knees for quite a while into their mobility development. They’ll pull up and, maybe, even stand solo for a while. But, to travel, crawling is preferable.
Some Pre-Toddlers will pull out of a walkers’ hands to get down on the ground. For a lot of babies, a walking/running comfort-zone is usually by 24 months, or 2 years old.
Then, there’s the “attitude”…..
Briefly, Pre-Toddlers are too busy happily traveling, exploring & inspecting the premises. Scrutiny, confusion & willful decisions are too time consuming. This mental & emotional probing, I feel, belongs to the emerging & resolute Toddler. More on the teeny adolescent in the next, upcoming blog: “Managing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Toddler”.
Have You & Your Pre-Toddler……..
- been counting fingers & toes? #This little piggy…
- been naming body parts? #Hands, shoulders, knees & toes…
- been swimming at a big pool? #Rec center
- been to a petting zoo, park and/or playscape? # neighborhood map
- been on a playdate with other children? # Mothers’ Day Out
- been exercising with your baby? #Airplane take-offs & landings
Are You & Your Pre-Toddler……
- playing together without screen time?
- reading together for a period of time everyday?
- having fun together being silly & goofy?
- talking about the shapes & colors of things?
- singing & dancing together?
Are you and/or loved ones remembering to document your baby’s Milestones in that beautiful baby book someone gifted to you?
Speaking of Baby Milestones in Growth & Development, check out https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/babys-first-12-months-growth-development/ in my Resource Library for a quick overview. Remember your Baby’s brain continues to grow!
Your Pre-Toddler’s Brain
The article, “It’s All Connected” posted on the website, Sesame Street in Communities states the brain creates 700 new connections EACH SECOND in the first few years of your baby’s life. By the age of 3, your child’s brain is 80% as big as an adult’s.
Important fact to remember~
No two brains grow & develop at the same rate.
Interactive movement using the 5 senses is critical to your pre-toddler’s healthy brain growth and development. Yes, taste-feeling is still a natural response at this age, so monitor closely because everything is “fair game”. Seriously.
Indoor & outdoor exploration is exhilarating for your baby, especially now s/he is moving with some independence. However, as Dr. John Medina of Brain Rules cautions, “over-stimulation can be just as hazardous as under-stimulation.”
Building Your Baby’s Brain Power
Grover, a Sesame Street character, narrates a video-book for children, ages 2-6, on the Sesame Street in Communities site. YOUR AMAZING BRAIN shares these tips:
- The brain is your body’s first organ to absorb nutrients.
- Brain food for kids are – salmon, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains, oats, berries, beans & colorful veggies.
- Use all the 5 senses when- reading, coloring, talking, listening, moving & playing games.
- Repeated physical activities – banging, throwing & choosing help develop the reasoning skills of cause & effect, compare & contrast, and predictions. (from “It’s All Connected”)
Remember – some babies pour ALL their energy & curiosity into Movement & Manipulative Mastery. In other words- “No time for talk! Gotta go! Places to see! Objects to taste!”
So. if you are waiting anxiously for Baby’s first words-other than babblese- it might be a while. And it’ll be worth the wait. Just keep stimulating your pre-toddler’s brain with meaningful oral language.
Learning The Language of Speech & Literacy
The only place you find perfection is in a dictionary ~ Old Saying
New, advanced research is helping scientists understand more about the mysterious workings of the brain and how we, as humans, learn language.
In Dr. Sandra Crosser’s article, “Enhancing the Language Development of Young Children” contributed to the website, Early Childhood News.com , she states the young child’s developing brain is very flexible, or open to new knowledge. The critical time for learning language occurs before the age of 8 or 9.
If your infant has been hearing the same sound combinations repeatedly, the brain forms a response map to those specific sounds. So, then, a child “usually” tends to understand and speak the language of her/his environment with reasonable fluency by the age of 3. Clarity, on the other hand, will sometimes come and go with “baby” and permanent teeth.
However, the rate that children learn and speak language is strongly influenced by his/her surroundings. Trauma, neglect, stress, or abuse can interfere with normal language development.
How Is Normal Language & Speech Learned ?
Communication is interactive experience between two people. It involves listening, understanding & expressing.
There are several theories offered by Dr. Crosser’s article to help explain how children learn to understand and, then, speak their native language.
The Nativist Theory states that children are born with the desire to make sense of the world and can understand the different sounds in any language. By 12 months their babblings will only use familiar sound combinations.
Social Learning Theory says children imitate words & language patterns they hear by watching & listening to the familiar people in their environment. They repeat sounds that are rewarded with smiles & praise, dropping sounds that are not rewarded.
Finally, the Interactionist Theory proposes that children need more than their inborn traits and desire to speak. “They need to speak and be spoken to. Neither one, alone, is enough.” (Bohannon & Bonvillian, 1997)
Personally, I think, depending on the child, and her/his environment, a combination of all these theories contributes to language & speech development. But, I’m not an expert linguist or speech pathologist….
What Are the Signs That My Baby Is Learning Language?
Remember~each child learns at her/his own pace. Some pre-toddlers are too busy exploring their physical world to talk about anything. Some are very ready and motivated to talk, talk, talk. These are personality traits NOT signs of intelligence.
Babblese , a baby’s first language, is a sure sign your baby is learning language. Keep talking with your baby about everything, looking directly into those beautiful eyes and responding to the responses you’re receiving.
Even when your pre-toddler begins to use words (“Use your words, dear.”), the communication of cries will still happen. Need a memory jog? Probably not, but if so- re-read the section titled “Baby Talk: The Communication of Crying” in this post: http://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/nurturing-your-newborns-literacy/
Understanding How Listening & Speaking Happen
Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, who has authored several successful parenting books, offers this explanation for the physical side of speaking:
To “say” words, you have to perfectly coordinate your lips, tongue, throat & diaphragm. The first bunch of words are gestures. The second bunch of words are invented. The third of words are learned from you.
Some experts support the practice of teaching & using sign language (hand & arm gestures as words) to encourage language skills. Sign language, which strengthens the same area of the brain used in speaking, can bridge the communication distance between listening & speaking. (White & Harper: Signs of A Happy Child 2017)
A Listening & Speaking Development Chart
In the ” Language Acquisition” world, the words Receptive & Expressive describe the major players. Receptive is how language is being received, or understood. Expressive is how language is being expressed, or spoken. Here’s another one of my charts:
Pre-Toddler Oral Language Milestones (12-24 Months)
AGE IN MONTHS EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE
By 15 months *Combines sounds & gestures
*Imitates simple words & actions
*May use 4-10 words
*Consistently follows simple directions
*Shows interest in pictures
*Can ID 1-2 body parts when named
*Understands 50 words
By 18 months *May use 10- 20 words (mostly nouns) for favorite things
*Responds to ?s
*Continues to produce babblese
*Repeats words overheard in conversation
*Understands early direction words-in/out/on
*Understands & responds to simple directions
*Points at familiar objects & people in pictures
*Responds to yes/no ?s with a nod or head shake
*Enjoys music, rhythm & tries to dance
By 21 months *Uses words more than gestures
*Consistently imitates new words
*Names objects & pictures
*May have a vocabulary of 20-50 words
*Understands some emotion words-happy/sad
*Understands some pronouns-me, you, my
*Can ID 3-5 body parts when named
By 24 months *Uses at least 50 words
*Begins to use 2 word phrases
*Uses gestures & words during pretend play
*Understands more than 50 words
*Understands action words
*Can follow 2 step-related directions
*Enjoys listening to stories
How You Can Help Your Child’s Language & Speech
Studies show that children at 16 months can speak an average of 40 words, but understand over 300 words. However, children can experience a “language burst” around 18 months or later. (White & Harper: Signs of A Happy Child 2017)
According to new (2016) research provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “every additional 30 minutes a day children under the age of 2 spent using handheld screens, like smartphones & tablets, meant they were 49% more likely to have speech delays.”(Time Books:The Science of Childhood “Tips for Toddlers” p.29)
Many people of many different cultures & languages, including ours, use a style of speech called “parentese” when speaking to very young children. (Gelman & Shatz, 1977; Pine, 1994)
Parentese is NOT baby talk. The speaker:
- uses a slightly higher than normal pitch
- exaggerates vowel sounds
- speaks in short, simple sentences
- uses repetition
- stresses/accents certain words
- pauses between sentences
Other Tips for Your Child’s Language Literacy
Annabelle Humanes stated in her March 2016 article, “A Few Simple Little Things You Can Do to Increase the Amount of Language Your Child Hears, and In Turn, Help Them Learn” for The PiriPiriLexicon that researchers have found children who can say the most words by the age of 24 months were the children who heard the most child-directed speech at 19 months (during that “language burst”).
Talking with & to your child (interactive) is not the same as talking at your child (commands & discipline).
Here are her helpful tips:
- Describe & label EVERYTHING. Repeat.
- Tell stories, using your imagination about every day objects.
- Ask questions, wait for a response & answer it, especially if your child doesn’t (or can’t)reply.
- Be positive, repeat what they say & add to it.
- Use simple but real language-no baby talk (googoogaga).
- Pair gestures with your words.
- Stop & Listen.
Just a note from me: Don’t be afraid to play with sounds. Be silly. Make up words & try to give them a meaning. This activity not only exercises their speech patterns & physical skills, but also, encourages their creativity. Besides all that, it’s biggley, tiggley & giggley fun!
Need more info? Check out this list in my Resource Library:
What I Learned About Language, Playtime & Literacy
Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn. ~ O. Fred Donaldson
Decades ago when I had a Home Day School for infants through 8 years, interviews with parents & child(ren) were part of my “acceptance” process. A few parents, not many, were curious about the structure, or schedule of the day.
“What time was art/reading/numbers/puzzles/ etc?”
“Is there a nap or quiet time?” “When & for how long” “My 2 year old doesn’t take naps……(oh yeah ?!)”
“Will my child have instruction time ? What will s/he be taught & for how long throughout the day?” (7am-5pm ?!)
My responses to these questions were, basically- “Your child will receive enough structure in a few years when they attend kindergarten. Although all these activities are available, your child must make those choices. I encourage coloring/drawing, making puzzles/play-doh sculptures & building with blocks every day. Your child will play outside a lot because they LOVE to be in nature. I do, however, read a story during the daily ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. ”
Very few of those few parents wanted their child to attend.
I learned SO MUCH about children during those years (and I had a degree in Education). Listening to children’s literacy grow through interactive language with each other & with their toys (tools, really) is absolutely fascinating. I never had a child who didn’t want to hear a story read. Observing & listening with the occasional, necessary interaction will give you great insight into what they are reacting to and absorbing from you, others, and their environment.
“Old School” Becomes “New School”
Interestingly enough, “Old School” thinking has returned as today’s “Modern School” thinking regarding the Importance & Power of Play in Childhood Growth & Development.
In fact (Gopnik, Alison: The Philosophical Baby 2009) “psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that babies, not only know more and learn more, but also, imagine more and experience more than we would ever have thought.”
In the “Hurray for Play” section of Dr. Medina’s book, Brain Rules, he states open-ended activities during play partnered with (monitored, of course) free play increases:
- problem solving
- less stress
- social skills
Whether indoors or outdoors, children play to learn and make sense of the real world. They will choose ToyTools to help them explore and discover how to understand their environment.
The Wonderment of Nature Play
Except for toy vehicles for outside use (low-riders, wagons, scooters, bubble lawnmowers), my Home Day School children stayed very engaged using Nature Toys: grassy hills, rocks, nuts, pine cones, seedpods, sticks, leaves, flowers. Amazingly, they even found fossilized shells, large & small, to include in their play!!!!
Speaking of playing outside, unless the weather is very hot, bitter cold or pouring down rain, my children & I bundled up to go into Nature for however long we (mostly me) decided. Summer weather is especially fun because water play is a HUGE favorite! Lots of different household items can become water toys: spoons, bowls, cups, colanders (a good one). But, toys are optional because water itself is a GREAT toy. Ahhhhh! Such is the life of ducklings!
Simple Nature walks around the neighborhood is oxygen-food for the brain & body. It will, also, give you the opportunity to engage children in the Language Literacy growth of new vocabulary. Although I used this time to introduce different words, I preferred to ask questions. This allowed them to ponder and discover answers independently – an important step for critical thinking. Nice food for thought during Quiet Time…..
Pre-Toddler Developmental Toy ~ Tools & Activities
Right now at 12 months, your Pre-Toddler is enjoying Solitary Play. Around 18 months, or so s/he might begin to play along side others without interacting with them, also known as Parallel Play. However, as a child nears the 2 year old mark, the pronoun “mine” becomes an expression of property rights. Constructive Play (Explore & Discovery through the Senses) continues to develop & grow. (Kalokyri, “Facts About the Importance of Play in Early Childhood” June 2016)
Although role play is a frequent & popular part of Child’s Play, there are developmental activities to encourage Literacy Growth & Development cited in the article, ” 20 Fun Activities for a Toddler, 12-18 Months”on the website chicklink.com. Here’s a few of them, along with the skills these activities encourage:
- sorting into container with holes / skill: hand-eye coordination
- hiding hand-sized objects in sand, torn paper, etc / skills: sensory, language, gross motor
- painting with water, brushes, sponges & fingers on construction paper / skills: creativity, sensory, fine motor
- using sticky notes to create object flaps for peek-a-boo book play / skills: fine motor, vocabulary
- blowing games using bubbles, whistle, straw in water / skill: speech muscles
- making a cardboard house / skills: LOTS
Growth & Development Toy Ideas for Your Pre-Toddler
Rahina Dancy, author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, supports choosing these toys to encourage growth & development in your child. They :
- represent the real world
- are aesthetically pleasing
- have large components
- encourage exploration & discovery
- open & closing containers with lids
- shape sorters
- stacking cups
- pop-up beads
- push/pull toys
- balls for kicking & throwing
- bubbles for blowing & chasing
- finger paints
Your Home As One Big Playhouse
As toy tools dribbled out of the playroom (HA HA) & their boxes, landing (and hiding) in every nook & cranny of my Home Day School, the only source of irritation for me was an unprepared barefoot discovery (OUCH). Puzzles, play-doh, crayons & paper managed to stay on the table (safety issues-little ones & “because I said so”- not afraid to use that one). I was definitely outnumbered in the work / play domain of my children.
Couch cushions & pillows (sometimes with draping sheets) became a variety of structures. The kitchen, with its utensils, plastic bowls & pots / pans (with their lids, of course,) became the music room & its instruments. Dining room chairs & table became an obstacle course. Thank goodness the bedrooms were upstairs. The playroom was just a holding tank for unused toys. The bathroom wasn’t particularly inviting for play….only serious business went on in there.
WHAT’S A TEACHING MOTHER TO DO ?!?!?!!!!!
Believe me, in my public school classroom, children picked up (part of their jobs). They liked & appreciated an organized, neat environment. Even their desks (well, most of the desks-mine not included) were arranged for quick materials access-no digging needed. But I digress…
Every Toy in Its Place & A Place for Every Toy
Organizing is a pleasure for me and an important learning activity for children-young & old (maybe not teens). They enjoyed it, at first (most of the time for them / all of the time for me).
Rahina Dancy, author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher provides support for this project. “Giving each toy a ‘home’ or place teaches:
- sequential thought processes
- order in the larger world arena
- work habits (putting things away where they belong).”
Felicia Sklamberg, a clinical specialist in pediatric occupational therapy, added, “Babies are easily overstimulated, which makes a catchall toy box overwhelming.”
And so, we created toy baskets, bins & boxes. Nothing fancy that required additional funding-wooden boxes, fruit baskets, milk crates, etc. Some parents even donated some bins for the cause.
Here’s The Scoop !
- Nature’s Treasures (some of these might need to be washed before coming into the house)
- Art Basket: pencils, crayons, markers (for older kids only- too many young, rainbow-colored lips), finger paint, water colors, brushes, sponges, stickers, paper, play-doh, cookie cutters, alphabet tracers, old magazines, scissors, glues, craft stuff
- Puzzles Box: including a smaller, lidded container for wandering pieces (a good rainy or too hot/freezing day activity)
- Motor Vehicles Garage
- Blocks Building
- Legos & Duplos
- Work Tool Box: hammers, screwdrivers, etc
- Dress-Up Trunk (still a box)
- Talk & Media Mix (a must-have): phones, microphone, walkie/talkies
- “Role” Play Basket (a must-have): dolls, action figures, animals, puppets
- Book Box (oh yeah!)
Ready to go indoors? Park the vehicles and store the outdoor toys in their own plastic, outside storage (a large clothes basket). The children “enjoyed” hosing & soaping them down, though I put them in the dishwasher for a sterilizing blast, as needed-usually once a week.
Older children are great supervisors & helpers for this end-of-the-day exercise. Here’s a little ditty to go with Clean Up Time:
It’s Clean Up Time! Clean Up Time!
Let’s go, Everybody! Clean Up Time!
Toys in baskets, boxes & bins!
We know where they’re landing (or going /sleeping /resting) in!
If you put this practice into play, I’m curious to know if & how this works out for you & yours. Let me know in the Contact Me form at the end of this post (just have to talk about books, of course).
Time for Book Talk & Literacy with Your Pre-Toddler !!!
There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy
For many children at this age, books are a very important ToyTool for them. If reading a book with loved ones has been a pleasant, common, every day experience, they will continue to want easy access to meaningful ones they can enjoy again & again.
Teaching Early Literacy & Behaviors are skills that will continue to benefit your child as well as your Family Literacy Circle.
Dr. Judith Schickedanz, a professor of Education at Boston University & author of the book: Much More than the ABCs, was the first to describe early literacy behaviors of very young children. How children interact with & respond to books are building blocks of the literacy growth & development.
She lists these categories with their skills as links to language, reading & writing process of Literacy:
- the physical handling of books- chewing & page-turning
- the interaction with books – looking, recognizing, pointing & laughing at pictures of familiar pictures
- the understanding the pictures & story of books – talking & imitating about events / actions
- the reading behaviors of stories – talking to the story, babbling imitations of the story & running fingers under the printed words
Book Reading Habits & Routines with Your Pre-Toddler
Besides being a great bonding experience and increasing her/his knowledge of the world, reading with your Pre-Toddler has many Literacy Building benefits (Hamilton Reads/Ontario, “The Early BIRD Program Manual”). You are helping your child to:
- learn early book-handling habits-holding it the correct way & turning pages
- increase his/her attention span, listening skills & memory
- access early brain exposure to letter shapes & forms
- connect printed words to the spoken word & related pictures
- be exposed to story frameworks & imagination
- engage in beginning critical thinking skills- who, what, why, next
Daily Reading Time Tips (12-18 months)
Anita West contributed some very useful ideas to Ruethling & Pitcher’s wonderful book, Under The Chinaberry Tree:
- Choose a time when your pre-toddler is “winding down”.
- Let her/him choose the book(s) and/or “read” to you.
- Read the book the same way every time & with expression.
- Talk about the pictures, but don’t stay on one page too long.
- Start reading easy-to-read, simple books with bright pictures & few, large-print words.
Daily Reading Time Tips (18-24 months)
- Choose books with a bit more text that tell a simple story.
- Talk about the pictures instead of the text if child is squirmy.
- Connect the story & pictures to real life.
Reading for Meaning/Understanding with Your Pre-Toddler
Reading for pleasure is one of life’s rewards, once you know how to read. Understanding what you read gives that pleasure meaning.
When reading with your pre-toddler, especially after s/he reaches 18 months, try to follow this sequence with a few interactive questions about the story:
- read & talk about the book’s title & its cover (what do you think this book is going to be about)
- do a “picture-walk” from the beginning pages to the last page (now, what do you think this story is going to be about)
- track your finger under the words & encourage your pre-toddler to do it, too
- point to the pictures that have words to match (can you point to the dog)
- ask prediction questions before turning the page (what do you think will happen next)
- encourage him/her to ask questions about the story (do you want to ask me about something in the story)
- ask some questions at the end of the story (what do you think will happen now; did you like the story; what did you like about the story; does this story sound like something else you know about)
Of course, you don’t need to ask every single question I’ve included. Sometimes your pre-Toddler will just want to hear the story (hand-over- your-questioning-mouth signal).
This is the reading sequence I used with my beginning, reluctant, and, even, my independent readers. Conversations greatly increase the understanding of what is being read, as well as the vocabulary being used to tell the story.
“I Want Us to Read This Book !”
A house without books is like a room without windows. ~ Heinrich Mann
First of all, the stories need to be “short”. Books with rhyming words are usually favorites. Pre-Toddlers over the age of 16 months enjoy “me” books. After 24 months, make-believe books are understood & fun to read. Here are a few suggestions from Brain Wonders of the website, zerotothree.org:
- sturdy board books that can be carried
- books with real-life photos of children doing every day things, like eating, playing, moving, sleeping
- simple books about animals
- beginning alphabet books
- hello & goodbye books
- good night books for bedtime
You can, also, make a book:
- of words your pre-toddler is saying with pictures
- of drawings s/he has made, writing words &/or a sentence about it
Children’s natural love of animals & the sounds they make (which children love to imitate) inspired me to create a little, make & take downloadable book entitled :
Animal Talk : Exploring 20 Common Animal Sounds
You can find it in BLB Shop or click on the link below to check it out:
Need some board book ideas? Check out a list of my favorites in BLB’s Resource library. Just click on this link:
Reading for Literacy with Wordless Picture Books
Reading a wordless picture book is one of the most enjoyable ways to share a story. Listeners get to tell the story using their creativity, imagination & perceptions. It’s a GREAT way to build the literacy skills of listening, oral language, vocabulary, words with picture connections, and understanding the flow elements of a story. I absolutely LOVE them!
“But you don’t have to take my word for it!” ~ Levar Burton on PBS’ Reading Rainbow
Click on the link below for a list of some of my favorite Wordless Picture Books for children, ages 0-3 years.
OMG!!!! This is my longest post yet! I thought about dividing it into 2 parts, but I couldn’t decide how….
Thanks for reading through it. I hope you found some useful & meaningful information.
Any questions &/or comments? Just fill in the Contact Me form below……(and she’s still talking…..). You will NOT be subscribing.
Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a FREE subscriber!