I’ve started a new job at a local Montessori School (if you live in or near Lancaster, PA click here for more information about The New School of Lancaster) and have been spending a lot of time in the toddler classroom. The children in the classroom range in age from around 20 to 31 months old. We have a tendency to lump all toddlers into one category when, in fact, they make some amazing developmental leaps during that two-year-old year.
Here is a fun video that highlights some of the developmental differences in early, middle and late two-year-olds.
In this video we can see how the children’s motor development changes in a big way. Their ability (or willingness) to follow directions also becomes more refined. At the end of the video the researcher asks the children to ‘tell a story’ (a more abstract instruction) which is difficult for even the child who is almost three.
So, what should we be thinking about during our child’s third year of life? I always like to go back to observing their development. In the good old U.S.A. we have a terrible tendency to compare our children to other children rather than thinking about their individual development. Here are two areas to think about:
Gross motor skills – watch how their gross motor skills improve. Young toddlers will be more clumsy when walking, running and doing simple things like changing from a sitting position to a standing one. By age three they will be running, jumping and going up and down stairs with a lot more ease.
Language skills – Typical development will go from children using one word utterances to stringing two words and then moving on to full sentences by age three. Their receptive language (what they understand others saying) is much better than their expressive language (what they can say) at first.
Keep an eye on how your child improves in these areas. Is her development steady? Does she meet the typical milestones? (Click here for a great checklist at each age.) Can you see how different her motor and language skills are now as compared to a few months ago?
What if you don’t?
I always recommend parents err on the side of caution. If you think your child is not developing the way she should be or if his development is uneven, give your local agency in charge of developmental screenings a call. Your doctor or childcare center can help you find the information if you don’t know who to call. These screenings are generally free and can help you determine if your child is developing at a typical rate or if he needs some extra help. If there should be an issue, it is always best to begin providing the extra help as soon as possible.
Most of all, have fun watching your child’s development. I know I am always amazed at the transformations I see in just nine months at school. Two-year-olds are fascinating people!