Disclosure: Thank you to VTech for providing a sample for review.
One of my favorite parts of parenthood is watching my children hit their developmental milestones. Occasionally, if you’re paying attention, you can see them make a cognitive or developmental leap.
Our youngest, for example, has been a relatively late (compared to his two older brothers) talker. While he has exhibited no shortage of desire to talk, his ability to form understandable words was lacking. He spoke in only vowel sounds. Then, late this summer in the span of about 1 month, at age 2 1/2, he began making several of his consonant sounds. All of a sudden, we were able to understand about much of what he was saying.
We have a lot of VTech toys in our home. One reason I love VTech so much is because they work closely with a panel of children’s learning experts on the development of its products. Insight from these experts are featured in an online Milestones resource that offers parents guidelines and recommendations to help them select toys based on the individual needs of children from birth to nine years old. The categories explain different characteristics and occurrences that your child is faced with at each specific age and developmental stage, and are then followed by recommended products that are the most appropriate and beneficial. The milestones are broken down by age and three categories of development:
- Language and Cognitive
- Social and Emotional
- Physical and Motor
VTech recently sent us one of their newest toys designed with toddler developmental milestones in mind. The VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals® Grow and Learn Farm™ is designed for children ages 1-5.
My children love connecting the farm pieces and creating different configurations–the parts are designed much like puzzle pieces or connectable train tracks. My 5 year old gets a kick out of tipping the watering can and watching the carrots “grow”…
The two year old loves putting the animals in place and helping them slide down out of the barn…
In addition to active play features, the Go Go Smart Animals Grow and Learn Farm gives children the opportunity to learn and practice their A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s.
Expert Panel member and Early Childhood Language and Reading Expert, Dr. Deborah Sharp Libby, has provided us with some common child development question and concerns as well as some great tips on how to address those concerns. She gives assurance about what is normal in regards to your child’s development and ways you can harness their natural curiosity and excitement to learn and explore.
Answers to Common Child Development Questions
What are some ways to help develop fine motor skills to promote coloring and early writing skills?
Create a comfortable art/writing space at home and fill it with a variety of writing materials like colorful pencils, pens and markers as well as paper and journals of all shapes and sizes. Provide regular opportunities for your child to color and write. These experiences develop small muscle strength and dexterity, and support fine motor skills development as well as hand eye coordination. Encourage your child to draw pictures and talk or write about what they drew. Let them know that they can draw or write about anything.
…Learning to draw and write follows a progression and development varies widely from child to child. Children make a variety of meaningful markings as they embark on their initial attempts at writing. Many draw pictures and scribble to convey a message. Talk to your children about their pictures and scribbles. Label their work. This provides a great opportunity for you as parent to model writing behavior, introduce letters of the alphabet, talk about the sounds that letters make and when appropriate highlight common sight words.
My toddler has a lot of feelings; how can I help her express and articulate them better?
Toddlers are growing by leaps and bounds developmentally, socially, emotionally and physically. They start to become more independent and experience a range of emotions. Talk and have conversations about feelings and help your toddler understand that it is normal to experience strong emotions. Everyone experiences times when they are happy, sad, angry, nervous, afraid and embarrassed. Parents need to acknowledge and label emotions specifically. For example: “You are sad because Mommy and Daddy have to go to work and you don’t want them to go.” “You are happy because you had chocolate ice cream and you love chocolate ice cream.” “I see you smiling. Playing with friends is fun. Are you happy and having fun?”
Helping your toddler label, understand and learn ways to express emotions is important at this stage of development. Role-playing appropriate actions and words that express emotions is a great way to help your child explore emotions, problem solve, make decisions and learn ways to work with others. Role-play takes place during play often and is a great time to encourage conversations. “Use your words” is a helpful phrase to use with your toddler and encourages them to share their feelings and thoughts. Specific statements and questions such as: “Use your words”; “Tell me how you are feeling” and “How does that make you feel” are all useful discussion starters helping children begin to explore and express their feelings.
My four-year-old has started to recognize words she knows. What activities and toys can I use to encourage her reading skills?
Watching your child’s early literacy skills take off is exciting. There are many ways to support literacy development. Immerse your child in a print rich environment where they are surrounded and bombarded with letters, words, stories and conversations. Make sure to set aside time to read great books with and to your child each and everyday. Daily reading experiences promote literacy development exposing children to important early concepts of print, a variety of vocabulary and sensational stories. Play with toys and enjoy games that introduce your child to letters and age appropriate vocabulary. Magnetic letters, alphabet blocks and games like Apples to Apples Jr. expose children to letters and words helping develop important literacy skills. VTech toys familiarize children with letters, words, stories and guarantee hours of fun. The company’s Go! Go! Smart toys are perfect for toddlers and encourage imaginative play while introducing kids to colors, letters and numbers.
Additionally, InnoTab MAX, 3S and 3 offer a variety of learning activities and feature favorite characters such as Dora, Mickey, Buzz and Nemo. The learning cartridges include great stories and learning games focusing on letters, vocabulary words and other important concepts. Strong early literacy experiences impact a child’s overall school success in positive ways. Take time out daily to read and play with your child and help their literacy skills blossom and grow.
My three-year-old can do many tasks independently, but has trouble stringing together movements that should go together. For example, she can pedal her tricycle, but cannot steer it at the same time. Should she be able to do both at this age? Is there any way to help her become more coordinated?
Three-year-olds are growing and developing at a rapid rate. Their large motor skills are becoming more defined and significant development is experienced at this time across developmental areas. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognizes that three-year-olds begin to exhibit increasingly complex coordination and movement; however, they also note that many movements do not come easily yet. Children’s physical development varies widely from child to child and coordination takes time to develop. It is important to have developmentally appropriate expectations.
Most kids love physical activity and toys that keep them on the move. Tricycles are perfect for growing three year olds. They require coordination, strength and lots of practice. It is important to understand that there is a great deal involved in riding a tricycle. First, pedaling requires endurance, lower extremity strength and coordination of both legs as they work together to move the pedals. Next, working and steering the tricycles handlebars involves strength in hands and arms and coordination of movements between the upper and lower body. The development of these skills takes time. Engaging in daily practice of riding a tricycle allows children to explore and develop their muscles and coordinate movements. This is true for many activities that three-year-olds are engaging in… The key is to support your child and provide them with daily opportunities to grow and develop. You know your child better than anyone. If you have questions or concerns, your child’s pediatrician is a great resource.
And, because it is right before the holidays and we thought a VTech giveaway would be fun…
One Oh So Savvy Mom reader will win a VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals® Grow & Learn Farm™ + additional animal (ARV $48)!
Must be 18 years or older and be a resident of the US.
Enter in the widget below.