Your toddler is learning all the time. Their little brains are like sponges, soaking up every ounce of knowledge they possibly can. Although giving your toddler the time to explore the world around them is so beneficial for their learning, there are some really great toys on the market to help jumpstart that learning!

Remember, at this age, toddlers are learning more than just ABC’s and 123’s. They are learning important skills like hand-eye coordination, fine motor, gross motor, imagination, self-regulation, and the list goes on. It is important to think of each toy/activity as a valuable learning experience for your little ones. I have created a list of items you can find on Amazon to help all of these skills, while also working on some traditional academics.

Writing & Reading

While your little one might not yet be able to sit down and read independently or write their name, there are absolutely activities you can do, to help introduce these skills to your toddler. Those pre-reading or pre-writing skills are essential to setting your little one up for academic success in the future.

One great way to enhance those pre-writing skills is to simply color/draw. Give your toddler paper and crayons, and let their little hands get to work. If you like this idea but don’t want to continuously use all the paper in your house, consider a whiteboard/marker. These personalized whiteboards from Caden Lane are perfect!

Before your child can read, they need to learn their letters and sounds, and there is no better way to practice these pre-reading skills than with something hands-on and fun. I love the idea of these individual puzzle cards, where your child can match the letter to the corresponding card, which then also shows a picture of something that makes that letter sound. Depending on your child’s age and skill set, you can even just pull out the cards for the letters in their name, or a sibling’s name- because learning is always more fun when a child can relate to what they are doing!

Numbers & Colors

Exactly like those reading/writing skills, there are ways you can encourage learning when it comes to mathematics as well. These skills may include reviewing colors or shapes, before you start introducing numbers and counting. You know where your child is at and you know what will challenge their learning.

Counters, for example, are so versatile and worth the investment for your toy collection at home. Your child can sort the counters by color, count how many of a particular color there are, identify what color has more/less, line up the counters in a straight line, practice math facts and so much more. This is one of my favorite toys to help jump start those early math skills.

Children learn best through play, and this is especially true at the toddler level. Your little one might not sit and do flashcards with you, as their little brains and bodies aren’t built for that yet, but they will sit and play ice cream shop for hours! Use your child’s interests to your advantage, and allow your child to learn while playing. I like toys that support these pre-math skills, while also encouraging fun, imaginative play!

Fine Motor Skills

As mentioned above, your little one is continuously working on their motor skills. Those fine motor skills work on the coordination of smaller muscles, in your child’s fingers, hands and eyes – a necessary skill set for academic success. Again, if you make working on these skills fun, your child won’t even know they are learning.

These toys in particular are a great way for your little one to strengthen their hand-eye coordination, which can be a tough skill to learn. Often, younger toddlers aren’t quite ready for this, and depending on the difficulty level of the toy, it may cause some unwanted frustration. Use your discretion, but definitely consider adding some fine motor focused toys to your rotation!

Puzzles & Blocks

While this isn’t a particular academic area, there is still importance in this category. Sometimes parents overthink the “learning toys” that their child needs, and they overlook the simplicity and importance of traditional toys, like blocks or puzzles. Remember, your child learns best through play, so let them play and encourage learning or language where appropriate. 

 Puzzles are an excellent way to get your toddler thinking and problem solving. There is also a huge array of puzzles on the market, from simple 3 or 4 piece puzzles, to jigsaw style puzzles for children. You will certainly be able to find a puzzle to challenge your little one, while also playing to his/her interests! Puzzles help develop fine motor, problem solving and memory skills, as well as identifying the objects/letters/shapes/colors etc. – all important skills to practice before your little one enters school.

Blocks have come a long way over the years, as there are endless varieties of blocks available. Your child can build towers or design structures for their toys to play with, all while working on language skills, critical thinking, identifying colors, comparing numbers (inadvertently, while observing the varying heights of their towers), recognizing cause and effect (knocking a tower down), and so much more. Blocks encourage so many skills but are too fun to play with, so your child doesn’t even realize it!

These are all great options when it comes to looking for toys to help encourage your toddlers learning, but a reminder for you Mama – your child doesn’t need any of these toys. There is so much potential for learning in the world around them. One of your child’s best tools for learning is YOU, so take the time to lay on the floor and build the construction site or snuggle up together and work on a puzzle. You have more power in your child’s success than you may realize.

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