For Christmas, I was given Jo Frost's book Confident Toddler Care. I have always liked Supernanny; she seems level-headed and sensible so I was quick to dive in and see what nuggets of wisdom she could impart.
First stop - potty training. She claims this can be done in a week if you clear your diary and it all seemed to make sense but the little man is not quite ready to take that giant step (according to Jo's checklist) so more on that when the time comes.
More relevant for now is the chapter on play and stimulation. I am always accutely aware of my responsibility in this area. He seems to learn new things every day and the more I can help with that the better. It is always reassuring being told you are doing something right and a lot of her tips I am doing naturally with him; narrating what we are doing during the day, giving him simple instructions to follow such as "Can you bring The Wheels on the Bus book over to mummy please?" and to my astonishment he does, singing nursery rhymes and playing musical instruments. Even taking him to the supermarket gets you a brownie point although by the time we get to the checkout both myself and the little man would beg to differ.
Here are some particularly good tips I have picked out:
- Create an obstacle course using furniture and cushions and give instructions, such as "Go under the table, over the sofa and on top of the cushions". This really helps with body awareness in space. Try standing him on a chair, then in front of it and behind it etc.
- Refresh your toy collection. Sounds obvious but I can see how easily he could outgrow his toys without me even noticing. If he looks bored or isn't interested in playing with them, it might be time for a change.
- Pretend play helps with reading skills, according to Jo. When a child pretends a blanket is a cape, he is letting one thing stand for another which helps him to understand that words stand for thoughts and ideas. She suggests encouraging this imagination by getting play versions of everyday objects, such as plastic food or a cash register. Make finger puppets, invest in some blocks or Lego and make a house or be on the lookout for items to expand your dressing-up box. The last one is one of my new year's resolution - I have always wanted to be a household that can produce a fancy dress outfit in a blink of an eye. That kind of household is a fun one.
- Last but not least, Jo gently reminds us to change our mindset (if needed). An activity isn't about getting something done but being interactive, using your imagination and having fun. Cheesy but so true.