Celebrating a holiday with a toddler is a display of sheer joy and excitement. Whether honoring a religious holiday, family celebration (such as a birthday), or cultural holiday (such as Halloween) parents, family members, and caregivers find delight in watching toddlers during these childhood delights. With that, we want to share a few ideas for tailoring holiday planning to your little one.
Involve the senses. Research shows the more senses we involve in a learning experience, the more areas of the brain we will activate, and the more likely the information will make it into long-term memory. Something as simple as cooking with your toddler will provide tactile/motor opportunities (allow them to help find ingredients and assist with preparation) and sensory experiences (touch and taste). Singing songs associated with holidays and celebrations is another way to involve the senses (hearing) and support language development. It doesn't matter what language or how talented your singing abilities are, the simple exposure to song and music will have a lasting affect on your toddlers learning and development.
Utilize holidays and celebrations as teachable moments with your toddler. Think about new vocabulary to introduce, field trips for exploration, and stories that speak to your family traditions around a particular holiday. Link these suggestions together by planning an activity such as a fall/Halloween trip to the local farm for a hayride. Explore a corn maze (and even picking an ear of corn), talk about the animals and what transpires on a farm, and read a related story. Family traditions and religious holidays can include trips to museums, places of worship, or sharing photos from years past. The passing down of traditions is an ancient form of educating and something to take advantage of even in our modern world.
Play games and get crafty. Holiday celebrations are a wonderful time to encourage play and involve your toddler in a craft. These experiences do not have to be elaborate and can be as simple as learning to play a game of dreidel at Hanukkah, carving a pumpkin at Halloween, or creating a homemade birthday hat for a party. The goal is to foster your toddlers natural sense of creativity and support an opportunity for fun.
It is important to recognize that not all toddlers respond to holiday celebrations the same and some may even feel uncertain because of noise, large crowds, or changes in their typical routine. Remember that you know your child best and plan your festivities to best support the needs of your toddler.
Holidays are an important time to enjoy with your toddler and the entire family; have fun, be in the moment, and take pictures to share at future celebrations!
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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