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, they might have spent some time learning their colors – and they may have seen books, or had toys, crayons, or paints, that you used to identify these colors for them. 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. They might be ready to identify their favorite sweater as green, even if it has some orange on the pockets. They might point out a purple house, even if it’s more of a light lavender than the bright, dark purple found in their learning colors book.
They are probably also making some connections that might be harder for you to catch, or that you might not have even known they were going to learn. If they see you gritting your teeth and swallowing down your frustration with a friend instead of talking a problem through, they might start to form the connection that that’s how friendships should work. On the other hand, if they see their Grandma taking a pottery class for the first time, they 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 they ever learn, but they are going to start to form the baseline they'll build off of as they move forward in life. They are still in the part of their life where they might not be able to recall their day-to-day life right now when they grow up (though they're getting very close to starting to form long-term memories!) but the things they learn now are going to have an impact on how they think in the future, whether they remember 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 their third birthday. If your little one is still in wild-scribble mode, maybe they'd enjoy a little extra arts and crafts time to start to hone their technique – or maybe that’s just their style.
Can self-feed a whole meal with a spoon: It doesn’t matter if a bunch of their dinner is still making it onto the floor, their shirt, or their face. If they are getting enough to eat by feeding themself – and not walking away from the table hungry, asking you for help, or switching to finger-feeding part way through – then they are feeding themself 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.
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- “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.
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- “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.
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- “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.