Simplifying Childhood

Simplifying Childhood

Supporting your child through independent learning, play and understanding the foundations of toddler development

As our babies turn into toddlers, this age can be one of the most rewarding, difficult, exciting and rapidly changing times for both the parent and the toddler! Keeping you on the edge of your seat as they discover their world and their boundaries (and yours!), sometimes what can help them most is understanding where to step and where to let them take the lead in their own discovery and growth as little humans!

Founder of ‘Simplifying Childhood’ is giving us some tips today about how best to support your child as they step into the next stage of their lives and growing periods.

About ‘Simplifying Childhood’
Tiffany has been building her tool kit for working with children for over 17 years working in all areas of education from being a governess on a family property with 5 children under 7, to working in large child care centres, primary and in leadership positions within high schools. She has followed children through and seen not only where they start with developing and learning but where they end up.

1. What is child-led play and how do parents encourage this?

Child-led play is a method of learning where the child is in the direct seat of their own learning. Parents can encourage this via stepping back, asking questions rather than telling and taking on a more observatory role. The key mindset shift that allows this is to see that play doesn’t need to be ‘right’ when we let go of our ideals of what play is and isn’t it allows for space for children to lead the way. 

This allows your child to learn, explore and make mistakes without feeling put down or pressured. Children learn at the edge of their ability and more so when they don’t think we are watching!  Further to this, child-led play allows your toddler to develop their confidence, ability to problem solve and self-esteem.

2. What are your tips for building independent play and why is this important?

At this age, children are using play as their way of learning and understanding the world. They are also developing their independence, and naturally want to do more themselves rather than rely on you for help. This can often lead to frustration and tantrums when you try to step in to assist. 

Here are some tips for building independent play:

  • Prepare your environment with a ‘yes space’ that is clutter free and filled with open ended materials so they feel free to explore. 
  • Really question, do you NEED to break their concentration? If a child is engrossed in an activity, if possible step back and let them be. It is better for the child if you can resist the urge to intervene unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Routines for Independent Play to give space for separation, ensure you pencil in some clear one-on-one time.  Fill their cup so you then have space to fill yours … with a hot caffeinated beverage! 
  • Simple invitations to play. Leave out some materials or objects which will stimulate their imagination and creativity. For example, a wooden block or two, along with a couple of small cars, will provide open opportunities for imaginative play.

This is a passion of mine that I dive further into in my blog post –

3. Tell us about open ended vs closed toys?

Open-ended toys are items that do not have a set singular purpose but rather can be used in a range of play. Think of a wooden rectangular block, it can be a car, a phone, a bottle, a plane. There isn’t only one way to play with it or one single purpose. Closed toys have singular purpose and way to play with them. Image a toy car, regardless of how you look at it, it is always a toy car. Or a puzzle, there is only one way to complete the puzzle, there is a right and wrong way.

BUT the best part – There is room for both! Personally, like all things it’s about balance. Picking and choosing what suits your child.

4. What are the main foundations of toddler development?

An important foundation for toddler development is trust, respect and connection.

Children need to trust themselves, their environment and their caregivers.

Toddlers need to have a trusting relationship with their parents and caregivers. When children trust the adults in their lives, they can be more open to exploring their world and learning new skills. Toddlers also need to learn how to trust themselves. As babies, children rely on adults to help them understand the world. As toddlers, they start to become more independent and explore their surroundings. The more confident toddlers are in themselves and their abilities, the more they will explore and learn new skills.

Toddlers also need to understand that they are respected by their parents and caregivers. They need to know that others will listen when they speak and take them seriously when they express themselves through words or actions. By giving your toddler respect, you are letting him/her know that his/her thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions matter. This will help him/her build self-confidence and self-esteem as he/she grows older.

A strong connection between your toddler and you is essential for his/her development. When toddlers feel secure in your presence, it helps them explore the world around them with confidence.