Your child is between the1 month to 18 months
A toddler’s development during the first stage
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 toddlers at this age tend to increasingly reach out to and interact with their age peers, but that they have yet to learn to be empathetic (i.e., put themselves in another person’s shoes)?
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 who have been able to move around freely at their own pace from a young age tend to sit and walk with greater ease when they get older, as well as being able to speak and think more clearly than children who have not had that opportunity. This is because freedom of movement is favorable to children’s overall development.
Standing up on their own
Toddlers can often already stand up from a prone position, where they roll themselves on their belly first and then get themselves to stand up.
Toddlers generally take their first steps (around 12 months of age) with curved legs and their feet apart and straight and their arms stretched out ahead.
Toddlers’ fine motor skills keep improving at this stage: grasping small objects between their thumb and index finger, building a tower of blocks, and eating with a spoon. When a child is holding something, they often wrap their whole hand around it.
While we still need to assist children sometimes when they’re younger, by the time they reach the age of 12 months they can drink from a cup on their own.
They may be a little stiff and have their arms stretched out, but children can still run around when they’re around 18 months of age! It’s hard for a running toddler to suddenly come to a standstill, because they’re still developing their balancing skills at this stage.
How does Kindergarden support children in their motor development (physical development)?
Exercise is essential.
We organize exercise activities for the children every day: on the workout blocks or during the toddler exercise class, for example. Exercise is important for developing physical strength and muscle control, as well as coordination and balance. Exercise also stimulates toddlers to be inquisitive, as well as developing their attention spans. All this helps children stand up, walk, and run. We regularly allow children to walk around barefoot, as this stimulates foot development.
Gym cushions, a crawl tunnel, a wood climbing triangle, a parachute – these are just some of the materials and equipment we use to stimulate motor development. Since children at this age love discovery, small bowls and cups are more suited to their needs than anything you might buy in a toy store. They tend to play with these “open” materials longer and with sustained concentration, because it allows them to use their imagination, creativity, and taste for discovery.
Making your own music
Making a lot of sounds and music is also very fun and educational. We offer the children musical instruments such as guitars, drums, and a maraca, along with various household materials, including wooden spoons, small and large pans, containers filled with dried pasta, rice, and so on. Making your own music is particularly important for creating awareness in children of their own body, motor coordination, and spatial orientation.
Playing outdoors isn’t only healthy for children – they also learn and play in a different way outdoors. When they are outside, the children are more out of the sight of our childcare staff. This gives them the opportunity to discover what it’s like to solve things on their own and cooperate with other children. There are also more risks outside for children to take into account. When they are outdoors, they learn by means of physical trial and error. Having free rein to do their own thing and move freely outside enables children to develop their stamina and gross motor skills.
Social and emotional development
Social behavior is not innate but acquired, and children learn the most through a combination of exercise and experience. We watch and listen carefully and see that we can learn the most from each other. At this age, children often want to play with the same toys. For this reason, you will see that many of the toys in the group are available in multiples. This prevents conflict and encourages the children to play together. Sharing is still very difficult at this age.
Toddlers display mimicking behavior on a day-to-day basis and exhibit this independently. This is how we establish basic interplay, for example crawling or running behind a ball together. At this age, they are still more inclined to play alongside each other.
Will of their own
Toddlers say “no” to let others know what they do not want, which helps them develop their budding independence. In other words, they develop a will of their own!
Shame and embarrassment
When we tell a child they’ve been “bad,” they experience shame, because adults have taught them what constitutes “good” and “bad behavior.”
At this age, toddlers tend to increasingly reach out to and interact with their age peers, but they have yet to learn to be empathetic (i.e., put themselves in another person’s shoes). For example, they might not understand why another child is sad when their toys are taken away from them.
Toddlers want all kinds of things, but are often not yet able to articulate these desires. Since they have no control yet over their emotions, this can lead to temper tantrums.
How does Kindergarden support children in their social and emotional development?
Using “I” and “you”
We use plain everyday language without using the types of diminutives many adults tend to use when talking to children. Children have a sense of themselves as “big,” and using diminutives is a sign of not taking kids seriously. Children are addressed as much as possible with pronouns such as “you” and “your”; the person having a conversation with a child about themself uses pronouns such as “I,” “me,” and “mine.” This is important in helping the child develop their identity.
Boundaries and rules
Toddlers can already stand up on their own and are learning to walk. They don’t yet recognize danger and can often do more than they might be able to understand. Their world is rapidly expanding, and at this stage we allow them to discover this in freedom to the extent possible. We only start setting boundaries and rules if their safety is being compromised or if a specific type of behavior is repeatedly observed within the group (example: when a child keeps taking away another child’s toys.) We disturb children as little as possible when they’re playing. When we want something, we always approach a child from the front, so as to ensure they see us coming and we don’t scare them.
Sense of togetherness
Social behavior is not innate but acquired, and children learn through a combination of exercise and experience. Since children learn the most from each other, we create a sense of togetherness, a nurturing mood in which they learn to take care of themselves and each other. While we do of course explain things to them, we don’t do so too often or in too much detail.
Since toddlers are highly susceptible to adopting the language they hear around them, we need to address them in positive/affirmative and respectful language.
In their own words
One-word sentences; toddlers create their own words. These tend to consist of one sound and one consonant: “tree” becomes “tee,” “house” becomes “ouse,” etc.
Children use separate words to express a full sentence and link separate words to a specific event
Children learn that you can use one word to refer to things/objects, situations, and feelings, as well as pointing to objects they want the adult to name.
Oral motor skills
Children gradually learn to produce certain sounds and noises, which is why oral motor development is very important. Children intuitively learn to use their lips and tongue more often when they speak.
Toddlers vocalize all the time while playing, even launching into entire monologues! They keep using the same words and sounds to describe specific foods, toys, and animals.
How does Kindergarden support children in developing their language skills?
The members of our childcare staff spend a lot of time talking to the children and describe their own actions whenever they can, so that children come to understand the link between what people are saying and what they’re doing. This is important, because toddlers are extremely susceptible to mimicking the language of those around them. They begin to understand a lot more and can therefore also cooperate more easily with all kinds of actions, for example while their diapers are being changed.
Positive and functional
Children need love, respect, appreciation, and clarity, which is exactly what our childcare staff offer them. We use positive, affirmative, and functional language, as well as positive non-verbal communication, to meet this need. Children who hear others around them using positive and respectful language and who are approached in a gentle and loving way, will feel loved and valued in turn.
Language is based on rhythm, tone, and melody. Most children will be able to clap their hands around 14 months of age, which makes it so much fun to sing songs together that involve gestures (such as Hoofd, schouders, knieën, teen or Klap eens in je handjes). We always sing at a slow tempo, clearly articulating every word. Singing together also improves children’s ability to listen and focus their attention.
Cognitive and sensory development
The process is more important than the outcome. Toddlers who proudly demonstrate that they can put on their own pants receive a compliment; the fact that they put them on the wrong way around is less important.
Order and connection
Children already understand the regular order of things, but not yet how these things relate to each other.
Children understand rules only at the time they are provided, and they also link the rules to the person communicating them and the context in which they’re communicated.
“Hey, I can do this myself!”
Toddlers begin to understand that their behavior can create a specific situation, and will then explore the effect of this behavior. This is different than during the first year of life, when they simply reacted to situations:
Memories of things a child already knows – applying what they learned before. “Balls are made for rolling, so if I can roll the red ball, that means I can roll the blue one too!”
Trying out everything
Toddlers will try out everything several times, continuing to do whatever seems to work and interrupting or retrying things that do not appear to work.
How does Kindergarden support children in their cognitive and sensory development?
Since children develop their senses by being exposed to variety, we offer them a challenging environment at all our branches, and regularly introduce new features. We take the kids outside when it’s raining, so they can dig around in the sandbox barefoot, play with mud, mess around with the water basin, take dry leaves with them inside, make bread dough, and so on.
We make a point of not handing children too many toys at once, as this would only overwhelm the child: they would likely just flit from one toy to the next and become restless. We observe each child closely and put away any toys that don’t appeal to them (yet) and offer these to them at a later stage. The reasoning behind this is that once the child is older and more advanced in their development, they might be able to discover the material in a different way.
Sometimes children try to do something they’re not ready for yet, and sometimes they need to learn to accept that they can’t always get their way – it doesn’t take much for toddlers to get frustrated!
During this stage, children can accept certain boundaries, even though they might still throw a tantrum when they come across something they don’t like.
Pleasure, sympathy, dissatisfaction: at this age, children’s feelings start becoming more complex, but fortunately they also find it easier to articulate them.
Toddlers have been known to get impatient. They’re still unable to delay their needs at this age (such as physical contact and attention) and look for instant gratification.
This period is marked by growing self-confidence and shaped by the physical and emotional safety the child experiences. Children demand the attention of the people around them they know and trust.
Children can sometimes be distrustful of new settings and new people, which can interfere with their budding self-confidence.
How does Kindergarden support children in their personality development?
Young children are driven by curiosity, which is essential to their development. Still, children at this age already have some degree of awareness that some things are not allowed or are off-limits. Our childcare staff allow children to test their boundaries and explain why something is or is not permitted, and try to determine the need of the child exploring their boundaries. We do this through observation and by discussing the situation with our colleagues. We always look at the intention behind the behavior. Say one of the children in our group pushes another child. Through observation and discussion, we might then conclude that this is simply the child’s attempt to connect with other children. We subsequently teach the child how they might be able to do this differently.
It’s OK to be messy!
All children are different, and some children at this age want to play around with food, simply because it’s fun. We teach them that it’s OK to mess around, but that they should preferably not use food. To make sure they can meet this need, we give them something else to mess around with at a different time of the day, such as fingerpaint, water, or mud.
Learning to handle emotions
Sometimes children try to do something they’re not ready for yet, and sometimes they need to learn to accept that they can’t always get their way – it doesn’t take much for toddlers to get frustrated! Although they already comprehend a lot at this age, they’re not always able to articulate everything. So instead, they use body language, behavior, and their voices: they will kick, hit, scream, bite, and scratch. We take these expressions of emotion seriously, show understanding, and take control of the situation. If we are understanding and supportive toward these children, they will respond less strongly over time. We always try to look at why the child is behaving the way they do (i.e., the purpose or intention of the behavior) and then respond accordingly.