A Stage By Stage Educational Guide

Being a mother also means being your child’s very first teacher (among about a million other things!).

Sure, they say that mother knows best, but especially for first timers, a little help can go a long way. After all, what your child learns is just about as good as what you teach him – and how, for that matter.

So you need to do your best to nurture your little one and help develop all of those important skills.

The early years are the best years to build a good foundation.

So here it is, taking care of your tot’s needs, a stage by stage educational guide. The article covers typical milestones that your child is likely to reach in the toddler age bracket. It also covers the physical, intellectual and social development of your child during this time. A list of certain toys that are right for these age brackets and can help your child develop the foundational skills and abilities that he will use throughout his life are also given. (Note: I’ve used He/Him throughout this article to refer to both genders as it reads better than saying he/she, him/her all the time in my opinion).

14-18 Months

Main Milestones:

This is the age when your child will go from taking those first few steps to actually walking all on his own. So get ready to let go (but only of the hands). Aside from that, your little one will start building his vocabulary as he will use more and more words too. Of course, curiosity will definitely be present, but remember what they said about the cat – so your supervision is extremely important when your child plays and explores.

What To Expect:

Physical Development

Aside from your child just growing bigger and stronger every day, here are some of the things you can expect your child to develop physically in this stage:

By now, your little one should be able to crawl, sit, stand, and even walk on his own without the need of support. If your place isn’t baby proofed yet, you better get straight to it!

Also, this is the stage when the little one will start to make use of his little hands. He will enjoy carrying small things, usually one in each hands. Again, the word is SUPERVISION, because this is also the time when those little things that he is carrying will usually go straight to his mouth. So you have to be careful in choosing what your child plays with and not leave any little things scattered around within reach.

One thing that your child will be holding quite a lot is a spoon. Putting it in his bowl will be a breeze, it’s getting it to his mouth on his own is the hard part.

More on the hands, you can expect to get waves hello and waves goodbye, and if you teach the little one, maybe even a few flying kisses here and there. But you won’t be the only one clapping, as this is the age when that starts too – along with pushing and pulling as well. Pick and throw (a much better term for fetch) will without doubt be part of your routine ( your role is the “dog” so to speak).

Intellectual Development

Just as your child has gone from his first few steps to walking all over the place, you can expect a good 19 words, give or take, to go along with the very first one he said. So this is the stage when your little one starts storing words in his vocabulary bank.

Aside from his just starting to talk, what is really nice about this stage is that your child will actually start to look directly at the person who is talking to him, as if engaging in a conversation.
This is also when he will be able to follow simple, one step directions and requests, like stand up, sit down, get it.

Your tiny tot may also start to look for things that aren’t there, like his favorite toy perhaps, or maybe when you guys play a little game of I spy – the toddler version, of course.

Social Development

Social development is probably just as important as physical and intellectual development. After all, no man is an island- that especially goes for the little ones. This is the stage where you child will begin to really enjoy around being people, but at the same time, this is also when he may have a little bit of separation anxiety from mommy or daddy (or basically whoever the little one is usually with).

You better be careful with what you say and do as this is the time when not only is your child a curious one, but quite the copy cat as well. Steer clear from bad words and what now when within earshot of the little fellow.

As mentioned earlier, he will enjoy company, but he will also enjoy playing alone on the mat on the floor or in a play pen. But still, always keep an eye on him nonetheless.

Speaking of play, mirrors are great. This is the stage when the little one will be able to recognize himself in the mirror. And so the vanity begins.

What To Do:

Just to reiterate what was mentioned earlier – BABYPROOF YOUR PLACE. Leave no outlet uncovered, the same goes for sharp edges, if you have stairs, by all means, install a little gate of sorts, put breakables away and out of reach – you get the drill.

Although safety is your top concern, that isn’t the only one. You can help your child’s development by playing simple games and reading simple books. Even with the most high end technology, nothing beats a good old bedtime story.

You can also take walks with the little one, and, to help him learn words, name the things you see – be it a walk around the living room by pointing to the TV and teaching him what it is, or if it is around the block and showing him what a tree is.

You should also start with body parts. Make it a game to make it fun. Like where’s your nose?
But do remember to always show how proud you are of your child, not only for getting things right, but even just for giving it a go.

What To Get:

Here are a couple of great toys for this age group to help put the FUN back in FUNdamentals.

  • Small ride on toys
  • Crayons – the bigger the better
  • Books – choose the ones with hard pages or the soft plush kind over paper, lots of pictures, bright colors.
  • Stacking toys
  • Puzzles – the big ones with only about 2-6 pieces.
  • Balls
  • Push and pull toys

18-24 Months

Main Milestones:

Not only will you have a little tape recorder, but a video recorder too. This is the stage where your child will imitate just about everything you say and do- much more than the previous stage. So you better be a good example and act at your best behavior as well. This is also the age when your little one won’t feel so little anymore and will be much more independent. But even though your child is in the whole “I can do it myself” stage, make sure that he does so under constant supervision.

What To Expect:

Physical Development

In the last couple of months, it was mentioned that your little one would begin to hold his spoon, but would really be able to get it to his mouth. This is the stage when he will actually become successful in feeding himself, messy, but successful nonetheless. So don’t ditch the bib just yet.

Speaking of mess, this is also when he will become aware of his diaper and when it needs a good change. So this is the perfect time to introduce him to his good friend, the potty.

Your child will enjoy stacking stuff, like blocks and pails, rolling balls, as well as other things that roll to- like little cars or just about anything with wheels.

Intellectual Development

This is where his vocabulary takes a huge soar from twenty plus words to hundreds and hundreds. Plus, more than that, this is also when your child will start putting them together by forming 2-3 word sentences- usually a verb, a noun, and even a preposition- like put that here, or throw ball.

But your child won’t only be talking to you at this stage. This is also when he will start talking to himself. Don’t worry, he isn’t crazy-it is perfectly normal.

He will be much more expressive too and will show a much better liking to stories, songs, and nursery rhymes. And because he loves imitating people, this is the perfect time to teach him some.

Social Development

Socially, this may be a rather difficult stage. Your child will become rather possessive and won’t really like to share at this point, whether it is one of his toys or even his very own mommy. So if there is another baby in the room, best you pick him up when your kiddo isn’t looking. Another reason for this is that your child will also love getting attention from adults and won’t want to share the spotlight either.

He will also have a hard time waiting – so not only his patience will be tested, but yours as well. So get ready because it is possible that your child will be pretty aggressive, physically, when angry, frustrated, or doesn’t get what he or she wants. It is the beginning of the so called terrible twos after all.

But it isn’t all bad. This is also the age when you child will be referring to himself in third person, his own name. No matter how stressed you might be, that will definitely put a smile on your face.

What To Do:

This is the stage where play gets much more interesting. But more than just fun, it is the perfect way to teach your kid new things too. More than just vocabulary (but learning new words never really stops), you can also help your child learn how things work, like the simple on and off switch, and also teach them how to use certain tools and whatnot (but, of course, nothing harmful or dangerous).

Because this is the time your child will start to use his imagination, you should help stimulate the creative process by playing along, like eating food that isn’t really there or taking a road trip right on your living room couch.

You should also help your child develop problem solving skills, like the circle shape goes in the circle hole kinda thing, and also teach him to work and play with others. Play dates will definitely be fun.

What To Get:

  • Shape sorters
  • Play Doh
  • Ride on toys
  • Musical Toys
  • Toys of everyday things, like cooking sets or a toy phone
  • Stuffed toys
  • Books
  • Puzzles

2-3 Years Old

Main Milestones:

Now that you are way done with witnessing your child’s first steps, get ready for leaps, jumps, tumbles, and him basically running all over the place – but in a much steadier way. He should be much better with using his hands as well as expressing what he needs and wants.

What To Expect:

Physical Development

Your child will be much steadier on his two feet, as mentioned earlier, he will be running all over the place and jumping here and there – not to mention climbing and swinging too, since this is also the stage where he will be using both of his hands a whole lot as well. His little hands will be sorting, pinching, poking, pulling, pushing, taking things apart and putting them back together again (or at least trying to).

But more than just for holding on to railings and the like, this is the stage where your child will be able to scribble on paper, well, mostly on paper. You can expect a lot of misses too so get ready to scrub off marks on the table and floor as well. (the trick is to only get the washable stuff).

This is also when you child will help getting dressed. Taking off his clothes will be much easier than putting them on. So you will still need to help. But by now, he should be able to snap buttons and pull zippers up and down.

Intellectual Development

This is the talkative stage – from the time he wakes up to the time right before he falls asleep. After all, by now your child should know about 1000 words (and that number keeps on growing every day) and can formulate 2-5 word sentences.

But despite a pretty big vocabulary, your child may not use all the words he knows often – but you can expect to hear a lot of I, me, you, and mine.

What is really nice about this age is that more than just names of things and people, your child will also remember what he did, like events – maybe a birthday party he went to or even just a simple walk down the street, and routines, like setting the table everyday or brushing teeth after meals. Then when he recalls something, he will try to tell you all about it.

What To Do:

Since this is when your child is most talkative in his toddler years, you should encourage it by continuously talking to him and adding to his vocabulary and start describing things and events to him too. Talk to your child all the time – while giving him a bath, during play, over breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This is also a great time to give your child choices, and let him pick what he wants – whether it is the color of the crayon or what snack he would like to have.

Keep on reading, singing, and rhyming with the little one.

This is also the perfect time to start teaching your child about chores and responsibility (but don’t expect him to clean the house just yet). Start simple, like putting his toys back in the chest after play, or even sweeping the floor – although the dust will probably just be circling around, the point is teaching him that it needs to be done. The dust pan can wait for later.

This is also a really good time for your child to play with other kids. If he doesn’t have any brothers or sisters, play dates with cousins or the neighbors are perfect.

What To Get:

  • Art stuff – markers, paint, crayons, beads to string, etc.
  • Musical Toys
  • Toys of everyday things (this will be a favorite for a long time)
  • Ride on toys – you could even move up to a three wheel bike
  • Books and puzzles
  • Building toys, like bricks
  • Stuffed toys
  • Interactive toys

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