Learning is one thing – Baby is learning every day – but making connections is what makes learning useful, a lot of the time, and Baby’s probably getting pretty good at that, too. For example, last year, he might have spent some time learning his colors – and he may have seen books, or had toys, crayons, or paints, that you used to identify these colors for him. These were probably pretty bright, obvious versions of those colors, and were probably all one shade – to cut down on confusion and make them easier to learn.
That set-up was probably great for learning, but Baby may have moved past that now. He might be ready to identify his favorite sweater as green, even if it has some orange on the pockets. He might point out a purple house, even if it’s more of a light lavender than the bright, dark purple found in his learning colors book.
He is probably also making some connections that might be harder for you to catch, or that you might not have even known he was going to learn. If he sees you gritting your teeth and swallowing down your frustration with a friend instead of talking a problem through, he might start to form the connection that that’s how friendships should work. On the other hand, if he sees his Grandma taking a pottery class for the first time, he might start to form the idea that learning new things never ends, and that it’s never too late to try something out.
The connections Baby makes today aren’t going to be the only thing he ever learns, but they are going to start to form the baseline he’ll build off of as he moves forward in life. He is still in the part of his life where he might not be able to recall his day-to-day life right now when he grows up (though he’s getting very close to starting to form long-term memories!) but the things he learns now are going to have an impact on how he thinks in the future, whether he remembers it or not.
Draws lines: As toddlers’ control over pencils or crayons improves, they’ll move on from the wild scribbles of their early art experiments to more controlled marks, like lines and circles. This is especially true if a parent or a caregiver draws a few lines or circles on a page for a toddler to copy. But in general, the marks a toddler makes start to grow more thoughtful over the year leading up to his third birthday. If your little one is still in wild-scribble mode, maybe he’d enjoy a little extra arts and crafts time to start to hone his technique – or maybe that’s just his style.
Can self-feed a whole meal with a spoon: It doesn’t matter if a bunch of his dinner is still making it onto the floor, his shirt, or his face. If he is getting enough to eat by feeding themselves – and not walking away from the table hungry, asking you for help, or switching to finger-feeding part way through – then he is feeding themselves effectively!
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 29.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 15 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1260-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-29.
- “Activities for Bonding and Learning from 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, April 18 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1079-activities-for-bonding-and-learning-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Developmental Milestones: 2 Years Old.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Skills for Ages 2 to 3 Years.” Fairview Health Services. University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.fairview.org/fv/groups/internet/documents/web_content/developmen_201009262104505.pdf.
- “Feeding: What to Expect From 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 16 2009. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/154-feeding-what-to-expect-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Learning and Development: Young Children 24 to 36 Months.” Better Brains for Babies. University of Georgia. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://bbbgeorgia.org/childDev_24-36.php.
- “Learning to Write and Draw.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 25 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/305-learning-to-write-and-draw.
- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
- “Physical Activity for Your Child: Age 2 Years.” Lancaster General Health. Penn Medicine. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/ECommerceSite/media/LGH-Media-Library/Documents/Services/Service%20Lines/Healthy%20Weight%20Management/Fact%20Sheets/Physical-Activity-Age-2.pdf.
- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.