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7 Skills Toddlers Need to Learn

7 skill areas to teach toddlers

By LAURIN BRAINARD Updated June 27, 2024

Did you know that about 80% of our child’s brain develops by the time they are age 3? When I learned this statistic, I quickly realized the importance of teaching age appropriate skills to our toddlers! Teaching toddlers is so fun and rewarding, but it can also be challenging to know what to teach to 2 and 3 year old children.

Young children are always learning. They learn by watching, listening, and playing. They are learning when they pick up a toy, when they watch a parent cook dinner in the kitchen, or even when they are riding in a shopping cart.

As parents, we are always wondering what we should be teaching our children to set them up for success later in life. Some days are just about making it to bedtime, while other days we find ourselves wanting intentional learning moments.

To try to make it easier for you to know what to do when you sit down to plan a toddler activity, we are diving into 7 skills areas for toddlers that I focus on when planning toddler activities for my own little ones. As a mom to three kids (ages 1-8) and a classroom teacher with 11 years of experience, I have seen the differences in children as they grow when we take advantage of learning opportunities during the years of toddler development. In this post, I’m sharing 7 skill areas that are important to teach our toddlers. Before we dive in, you can grab my planning guide here: How To Plan Toddler Activities - The Complete Guide

Let’s Dive Into 7 Skills for Toddlers to Learn

  1. Language Development for Toddlers
  2. Art Activities for Toddlers
  3. Fine Motor Skills for Toddlers
  4. Sensory Activities for Toddlers
  5. Math Activities for Toddlers
  6. Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers
  7. Social Learning for Toddlers

1. Language Development for Toddlers

The most important place to start when working with toddlers is communication! Our children are sponges! They are taking in everything we say, so it is especially important to be using a variety of vocabulary when speaking to your toddler. It is important to use simple words and sentences to avoid overloading their little brains with too many words to process at once. Once our children are able to effectively communicate their needs, a whole new world will open up before them!

I love to begin teaching the alphabet to my children when they are two years old. They have so much fun as they begin to recognize that words begin with letters. It is especially fun to point out all the words we see and hear as we go about our day. For example, when my son first learned the letter A, we took a trip to the grocery store to touch and feel all the apples. This helped my son recognize that apples begin with the letter a. You can read more about our Apple Toddler Activities in this post: Apple Themed Activities for Toddlers

2. Art Activities for Toddlers

Making arts and crafts with toddlers is so much fun! There are so many different art activities you can do with very few supplies on hand. Toddler art is meant to be fun and can be used to teach a variety of skills. Here are a few art activities you can try right away:

3. Fine Motor Skills for Toddlers

Fine motor skills involve our ability to make movements as we use the small muscles in our hands. When we use a pencil, scissors, manipulate play dough, or build a block tower, we are utilizing our fine motor skills. When we press two blocks together, we are utilizing our hand strength to squeeze the blocks together. We also use hand control as we properly line up the blocks for success. Both hand control and strength work together as we develop our fine motor skills. We use these skills every day throughout our daily tasks such as brushing hair or turning a doorknob.

You can read more in this post: What are fine motor skills?

4. Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Sensory bins provide a fun and interactive way for toddlers to explore their senses and learn all about the world around them. Sensory bins can hold the attention of our little ones for hours, while also assisting in the development of fine motor skills, language development, problem-solving skills, and self-regulation. If this is your first time making a sensory bin, then you may want to read this post first: Why Preschoolers Should Use Sensory Bins

Interested in trying out a sensory bin with your little ones? Read this post: How to Set Up a Sensory Bin

5. Math Activities for Toddlers

Beginning to teach math to toddlers is so much fun! When we think about teaching math to toddlers, we are talking about math in the most simple forms. A great way to get started teaching math concepts to toddlers is through activities we do in everyday life. As your child to help you sort the laundry. You can sort by color, by shape, by size, etc. You can also ask your child to pass you one, two, or three items. You can sing songs, read books about numbers, work on counting, and begin to use math vocabulary as you go about your day.

6. Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers

Our little ones need to be moving! Gross motor skills help to build strong muscles in your child’s arms and legs, as well as their hand-eye coordination. Not only will your children love to explore the world around them, but they will also build confidence that will help them with other tasks as they grow.

Here are some of our favorite gross motor activities for toddlers:

7. Social-Emotional Learning for Toddlers

Once your child turns two, a whole new world will open as they begin to play with their peers. They will show excitement, sadness, frustration, and even begin to show empathy. Here are a few important social-emotional learning skills our 2 to 3 year olds need us to teach them during the toddler years:

How to Teach the Skills Toddlers Need to Learn

To help make it easier for you to get started teaching your toddlers, I created my FREE Toddler Curriculum Map that lays out 40 weeks of themes that include all the skills I shared in this post. You can download the full curriculum map here:

Laurin

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links, which helps to support The Primary Brain blog. As always, I only recommend products that I love and all ideas shared are my own.