Our Toddler’s Emerging Independence
The lovely children are growing up. It’s mind-boggling to me how fast it goes, truly. Our Little One has really started playing, and more independently for longer stretches at a time. She’s now a couple of weeks past the 18 months marker, and can spend half an hour with her dolls, wrapping them in their blankies, rocking in the crib, walking them around in the stroller. I’m excited that Santa will bring her a Baby Stella, a sling, and some diapers. She can also spend long amounts of time with her brother’s trains, both riding them around and laying track for them. She’s got her own train, too, though it’s missing all the animals and so far we haven’t yet been asked to put batteries in. She’s learned that she can carry just about anything around in it and delights in doing so. Her ability to entertain herself has grown hugely over the past few weeks. While I can’t run all over the house doing chores, I am able to clean whatever room we’re in, or do something like write a blog post. As long as I’m willing to stop what I’m doing and give her bits of attention when she asks, we can happily be together and engaged in our own pursuits for an hour or more. It’s been fantastic.
Her independence is also developing in that she wants to do more and more things herself. Washing hands, putting shoes and socks on and off, getting snacks, choosing clothes, “cleaning up” spills… To help her, we’re trying to make everything she needs more accessible: lower coat hooks, a dustpan where she can reach it, towels at her level. It’s been a lot to think about, after spending the past 18 months keeping stuff out of her reach! We’re actively trying to teach her independence skills. Pouring is next!
She’s using her words more and more. Vocabulary development is just amazing to observe, and that alone has made it so worth it to be home with my kids. She has added lots of words the past few months: this, baby, hat, help, shoes, off, on, jacket, socks, diaper, potty, thanks, please, “ow ow ow ow!” (when she’s hurt), train, truck, baby, apple, outside, trash, recycling, color, and names for people both in and out of our family. They’re not very clear yet and I’m usually the only one who knows what she’s saying, but the vocalizations are consistent and getting more and more precise. Songs have been a big hit and she does motions and sounds for the wheels on the bus, five little ducks, and I think a couple of others. Her weekly playgroup has been great for that. Actually, I need to blog about her playgroup so stay tuned on that.
Our church has a Godly Play class for pre-schoolers. She’s a bit young but participates because we’re both in there for the Middle One anyway. She’s adorable. It’s a Montessori approach towards teaching Bible stories and she loves the opportunity to use non-washable art supplies, clay, a giant sandbox, and of course the babies in the room, which are all in white Christening dresses and she sits and fingers the fabric while the teacher tells the story.
Lastly, we’ve been working on matching pictures and colors. She’s doing great with both! For the pictures, we currently use a little bingo set, and will soon switch to using a memory game. She’s really getting it, and it’s helping her vocabulary as well. For colors, I painted several of the compartments in an egg carton in the primary colors (to start). We used matching bottle lids (these are considered choking hazards so don’t leave unattended) and showed her how to match by color. I’m going to try having her use beads next, and we’ll expand the color repertoire. She loves these games and can just sit and sort stuff for 20 minutes at a time. She’s not up to her shape-sorter yet, but has started putting together some of her big brother’s puzzles with some success. Go figure.
I’m a proud mama, and this has just been about one kid! I could wax poetic about the other two as well, but will save that for another day.