Kid-sized computers aren't the only way to enlarge your toddler's world.

Activities for Children in the Sensorimotor Stage

by Sharon Perkins

The sensorimotor stage simply means the time from birth to age 2. A designation created by psychologist Jean Piaget, this term describes the time when your little wonder will change more than any time in his life. The list of activities you can do to help your child learn about his world are endless; helping him develop physically, mentally and emotionally in the first two years provides a solid foundation for the rest of his life.

1. Physical Development

Your baby will grow no matter what you do, but you can help him grow healthier and stronger by giving him opportunities to flex his developing muscles. Supply him with toys -- or cajole his grandparents into buying toys that encourage large muscle development. Give him room to roll and crawl before he learns to walk. Riding toys that operate under foot power, balls to kick, backyard gyms that encourage him to climb and kid-sized trampolines can all help him to not only burn off energy but also to develop coordination and strength. Take him to playgrounds and indoor kid play areas that stretch his abilities rather than having him use the same toys he's already mastered at home.

2. Language

Teaching your little guy to talk is an activity that begins the day he emerges from the womb, and continues beyond where you (secretly) wish he'd stop talking for (just!) five minutes. Talking to and later with your little conversationalist helps his verbal skills improve. Nix using baby talk around him -- you might not be able to control your parents or your husband's parents in this respect, but speak to him like he's a person, but a little kid with a short attention span. Use short sentences and repeat key words to help him learn them. Say to him, ''Let's go for a walk'' or ''Are you hungry?'' Repeat key words like "walk" and "hungry." Reading is an activity that introduces him to the world of words; it's never too early to start reading on a daily basis.

3. Emotional Development

Babies are emotional creatures, but they aren't particularly attached to you at birth; any warm body will do. Spend time hanging out; sing to him or dance him around the room when he's little, and play with him on his level as he grows. Play simple games like "Where's baby?" or "Peek-a-boo" so that he learns you always come back. As he grows, find a few other moms with kids around the same age and start a playgroup. While toddlers don't really play with each other, playing alongside other kids helps him learn that other people are fun and interesting. Kids also learn from watching other kids, so, while you might not be crazy about all the behaviors he decides to mimic, spending time with other kids teaches him empathy, how to get along with others and a competitive spirit.

4. Mental Development

Every parent secretly thinks their kid is the smartest one on the street. While intelligence is determined to some degree at birth, the activities you provide help your little Einstein reach his full potential. That doesn't mean shoving "Math Equations for Toddlers" under his nose or providing a dizzying array of educational toys. Supply toys that allow him to put on his thinking cap, such as puzzles, but also creative tools such as markers -- washable, of course -- and blank paper, to foster his creativity. Take walks around the neighborhood and explain what he sees like, "The truck is digging a hole for a new house" or "The car's engine makes a loud noise; it makes the car go," so he can put what he sees into context.

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