Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.'s  picture
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.
H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education
University of Delaware
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Dear LearnNow: How to Keep Toddlers Active and Learning


Dear LearnNow, I have two sons, 15 months and 3 3/4 years old. I would really appreciate suggestions for activities I can do with them at home to help stimulate their development.

Thank you, G. A. (Mom)

Dear Mom: We have heard from many parents looking for activities to do at home to make sure their kids are engaged. One thing we’ve learned from consulting with a number of experts: there are many ways to do this! You can almost always find rounded children’s scissors to practice fine-motor control by cutting out pictures from magazines or simple shapes like squares or circles, or pick up some chalk for sidewalk art. But we turned to scientist, LearnNow founding member and expert on playful learning Roberta Golinkoff, Ph.D., School of Education, University of Delaware, for some additional suggestions. Here is her response:

Pretty much anything you do at these ages stimulates development. In Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, my co-author Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and I tried to reassure parents that any activity you do with your child or make available to them at home is a learning opportunity. Give them a bath with toys and they are playing at learning about quantities and liquids. They are also learning how to play together—collaboration. Go for a walk and they are discovering all sorts of things an adult wouldn’t even notice! And if you give them a chance to watch those ants—always fascinating—they will learn about nature and survival. Give them paper and colored pencils and crayons to scribble with and they are learning the precursors to writing and turning their experiences into something you can look at. In Celebrate the Scribble, we charted the amazing journey kids’ drawings take and how they relate to early literacy. Take them to the zoo and they learn about animals—this is biology too. When you go to the supermarket (very exotic!) they can learn about numbers and weight. Bake cookies and they are doing baby chemistry…and the list goes on!

Meanwhile, we want to hear from other members of the LearnNow community: what are your favorite things to do at home with your children?