Your child is between the2.5 to 4 years
Children develop of their own accord, but they do need those around them to provide them with experiences and the right kind of guidance. In this timeline, you will get to know the milestones related to motor skills, language development, social and emotional and cognitive/sensory development, and personality development. You can also read about how Kindergarden sets up the children's environment to help them develop optimally. We make use of the “recurring” moments in which we’re tending to them individually, such as while dressing and undressing them, changing their diapers, or putting them to bed, to give them a little extra one-on-one attention. This turns an everyday care moment into a special development moment.
Did you know that between the ages of three and four, children start developing a preference for either their left or their right hand? And that it is also during this stage of childhood that they develop their first friendships?
Development occurs during the interactions between the children themselves, and their interactions with the childcare staff and the environment. Our horizontal groups enable us to provide guidance appropriate to the different developmental stages. In doing so, we are guided by the pace and preferences of the children. After all, children are individuals and experience their milestones at a time appropriate to them. This timeline indicates the things you might encounter during the first important years of a child's life, but we also allow the children the space to reach their own milestones and develop at their own pace!
Motor development (physical development)
Children can do more, and are eager to do more, all the time. Since they’re becoming more steady on their feet and their movements are more fluid, we like to take them outdoors every chance we get. Our gardens are safe havens where children have all the room they need to run around, ride their bikes, or climb to their heart’s content.
Growing in girth
Between the ages of 2.5 years and 3 years children grow in girth, and since they stop shooting up in height, they also have less appetite than before.
Full of confidence
Toddlers can run around without falling and like to climb on top of everything. They can jump off a table or other elevated platform with two legs at the same time.
Children start learning to control their sphincter muscles at around 2.5 years.
During this stage, they make rapid progress in developing their fine motor skills. They also learn new skills: tying their shoelaces, zipping up their pants or jacket, and closing buttons.
Left-handed or right-handed?
Between the ages of three and four, children start developing a preference for either their left or their right hand.
How does Kindergarden support children in their motor development (physical development)?
Children can really get lost in their imagination, which is good for their creative expression. We use dance ribbons and other items to support them in this process. By spending a lot of time dancing, children get to know their bodies and develop their gross motor skills. It’s also a really good way to burn off energy!
Arts and crafts
The children love to paint and can mix their own paints, making them discover new colors. We play with beads in different colors, shapes, and sizes. This involves counting, sorting, and threading (which helps improve their hand-eye coordination and stimulates their sense of order and precision).
There are few things toddlers love more than balancing, rolling, and jumping, supervised by a member of our childcare staff. Our toddlers get to discover a lot of different forms of exercise, sometimes using small items such as hoops, balls, or bags of seeds.
Climbing and clambering equipment in the group
Children are enthusiastic explorers. We encourage this by offering climbing and clambering equipment that is at their own height, and therefore accessible. Children are willing to try new things, but they’re less likely to do something on their own that is genuinely too hard for them, and therefore dangerous. Because our groups are made up of children around the same age, they also don’t have an older, more daring child to lead the way. Climbing and clambering equipment is very important for the development of motor skills and self-confidence. Being introduced to this at a young age is helpful to the children when they are older. Climbing and clambering teaches you to assess distances and risks.
Social and emotional development
Self-confidence is an important quality to cultivate for when children start school. We teach the children to listen to each other and talk in a group.
It’s not that they don’t want to, but at this stage children simply don’t have the ability yet to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and think that others feel the same way about everything as they do.
Two children playing together is easier than several kids playing at the same time.
Children learn to accept the rules of behavior/group rules we have set together.
Children are better able to control themselves, which means temper tantrums are less frequent. At this stage of development, they’re very susceptible to compliments and criticism.
We also help to create a sense of togetherness between the children in the group, and this is where they form their first friendships.
How does Kindergarden support children in their social and emotional development?
Accepting social rules
It’s vital to focus a lot of attention on your toddler’s social development. Toddlers want to belong, be part of a group, and they look up to their friends. Our childcare staff guide the children in learning how to handle empathy, compassion, and social awareness. They often also need to learn to manage their feelings and their own will. Children learn that it’s fine to have feelings and that there’s room for these feelings, and they learn to express them.
Being part of a group
We teach the children that they’re all equally important to us, as well as to listen to each other and talk in groups. We support this through the various projects we organize, including a morning exercise class, kids’ yoga, the Logeerbeer (‘Sleepover Bear’, a teddy bear children take home with them and for which they take turns caring), the cupboard in which we keep the utensils we use to set the table, and (at some branches) Early Bird English classes. “Our” children are full of confidence by the time they start elementary school!
Learning through play
Children learn social rules while playing; they can accept simple rules and await their turn. In role-playing games, for example, we teach children to process feelings and impressions. Popular attributes include costumes, stuffed animals, dolls, and tea sets. The “living room” corner is one of the kids’ favorites, along with picnicking on a rug. The children also like to build a train track or create amazing buildings together.
Thinking, fantasizing, listening, talking, singing: children are becoming increasingly active and creative with language at this age. They love songs, language games, and repeating rhymes.
Toddlers aged 2.5 years use word combinations and can understand simple instructions and questions.
Rhymes and language games are very popular among children this age. Toddlers try to finish sentences based on the language rules they have been taught. From around age three, children will start coming up with their own words.
Toddlers learn to subjugate verbs. From the time they start, it takes an average of one year to master this.
You and I
The difference between “you,” “he,” and “she” becomes clear, because children at this age learn to see themselves as separate from others. They also develop an interest in writing.
Children become skilled at asking questions: “You come with me?” becomes “Can you come with me?” They start asking more questions starting with: “who,” “what,” and “where” and practice using the plural and singular forms.
How does Kindergarden support children in developing their language skills?
We spend a lot of time talking to the children. This helps to further build their vocabulary, which is already expanding enormously at this point. Good articulation and using clear sentences is important here. We articulate clearly what we or the children will be doing. We read to the children and tell them stories. And, very importantly, we listen carefully whenever a toddler wants to say something.
Talking like an adult
We talk to the children in a mature way. Specifically, we don’t use childish language or diminutives, and we use normal intonation. Children are inclined to behave in accordance with how they are treated, and ultimately, we want them to develop an adult way of speaking and understanding. Teaching them childish language is therefore not helpful to them.
Between the ages of 2.5 and 4, children’s language development is in sync with their social and emotional, motor, cognitive/sensory, and personal development. This “parallel development,” as it is known, where all these different areas develop at the same pace, is not quite as pronounced when children grow older. We undertake activities that stimulate all areas of development, including puppet shows or playing with finger puppets or hand puppets.
Language games, rhymes, and songs
We invite children to use language. We offer activities that combine thinking, talking, listening, fantasizing, and playing to maximize their development at this stage. We read to them, play language games, repeat rhymes, and sing with the children. We sometimes use a song basket, thinking of a song to sing for each object in the basket.
Cognitive and sensory development
Toddlers discover and learn a lot through their senses, and we adapt to this natural development by offering them materials and assignments that help them train their senses; that help them to observe, hear, feel, smell, and taste.
Thinking in symbols: a child might turn a sheet into a tent or a box into a house. We also keep repeating everything at this stage: songs, stories, and books. This repetition gives them confidence.
Toddlers aren’t yet able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. If there’s something a child doesn’t understand, they’ll explain it by using their imagination. This type of “magical thinking” eventually disappears again, around age six.
Circles and squares
Children develop an understanding of geometric shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles.
Making up words
Between the ages of three and four, toddlers can think about things for which they don’t know the word, and come up with a word themselves.
Developing children’s problem-solving skills Children can come up with situations in which similar problems occurred and apply what they learned from these past experiences.
How does Kindergarden support children in their cognitive and sensory development?
Imitation and imagination go hand in hand: making food in the play kitchen, changing the dolls’ diapers, and drinking tea together at the table. The costume box, iron, and household equipment and appliances are always popular among older toddlers. The eldest ones want to help with everything; collecting leaves in the garden, doing the dishes, polishing shoes, and cleaning windows. They love doing the same things we adults do all day, so providing them with materials from everyday life is always a great success.
We involve the children as much as possible in the decision-making process and setting group rules. This enables them to have more control and, as the rules feel like their “own,” they’re more likely to stick to them. It also increases their understanding of cause and effect. For instance, they might discover there’s almost no sand left in the sand table after other children have been playing. They decide together that after playing with the sand table, they must use a dustpan and brush to collect any sand that fell next to the table and pour it back into the table.
Playing with clothes pegs stimulates children’s taste for discovery
Another great example is our clothes peg game, which involves a huge container filled with different colored clothes pegs of different sizes. The most fun and educational part is allowing the children to discover what they can do with them. We don’t start with games immediately, as the children are still too fascinated by the new play equipment and will have a hard time paying attention. They’ll feel them, squeeze them, and take them apart. Children also have a need to organize things in this phase (by arranging all clothes pegs of the same color next to each other), create series (arrange them in a certain sequence), and match things (search for two clothes pegs of the same color).
Children love being assigned small jobs in our vegetable garden, which boosts their growing independence and affirms them in their need to take charge.
Imagination and reality
Older and younger toddlers have trouble telling fantasy from reality. Everything is possible, just like in fairytales.
Feelings of guilt
Toddlers develop an awareness of what is good or bad, naughty or nice. He or she might think: “I’ve been a bad boy/girl.” The development of this early sense of guilt impacts their self-image.
Growing independence and self-confidence This will cause children to act deliberately and take the initiative.
Children will start claiming the opposite-sex parent while at the same time being jealous of the same-sex parent, whom they view as a rival.
Toddlers start developing a sense of self-awareness between the ages of three and four.
How does Kindergarden support children in their personality development?
Don’t deny fantasy
Your toddler has trouble telling fantasy from reality: everything is possible, just like in fairytales. So imagination can be great fun, but a little scary too. We take children’s fears seriously, so if they tell us there’s a dragon hiding under the bed, we deal with the scary situation by chasing it away. And we also tell them that dragons only exist in books (in the hope that the children will come up with their own solution next time). We don’t pander too much to their fantasies, though, as it’s better to alleviate their fear than amplify it by focusing on it too much.
Activity and relaxation
Doing yoga poses will give your child a nice balance between activity and relaxation. Yoga stimulates their motor skills and improves their ability to focus, but above all it improves self-awareness. It makes children aware of their bodies, allowing them to discover them and engage with them in a creative way.
We give toddlers the opportunity they need to do as many things on their own as possible; this accommodates children’s need to be in charge and do things with a purpose. At this stage, children find it fairly easy to take off different clothing items, so imagine how satisfying it is for them eventually to be able to put on several items of clothing at the same time. They develop greater self-confidence if they learn they don’t have to rely on adults for everything they do!