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Meeting toddler milestones support for parents
Mari AndersonOctober 18, 20223 min read

Meeting Milestones: How to Support Your Toddler's Development

While it may be scary for a parent or caregiver to hear that their toddler needs a bit of extra support meeting their developmental milestones, it’s not entirely uncommon. Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, young children across the country have displayed signs of physical, social-emotional, and language challenges.

Corlears Early Childhood Division Director Colleen Goddard, Ph.D., provides insights into identifying potential challenges — and tips for building, strengthening, and supporting the overall development of your toddler at home and at school.


Speech and Language Activities

Children develop communication skills through visual learning and listening to sounds, words, and vocalizations combined. Watching adults articulate words with their tongue and teeth provides important visual cues.

Goddard, an early childhood developmental specialist, has observed that, due to several years of mask use during the pandemic, children are experiencing speech and language challenges. When we wear our masks, those visuals lessons are covered and annunciation is muffled.

To help your child progress and develop successfully with their speech and language skills, there are several actions you can take. Games and books that promote over-articulation, such as “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” are a great place to start. Using animated facial expressions help children imitate and understand social cues, develop social cues, which strengthens their ability to form empathy, awareness, and connection.


Other at-home activities include: 

  • Reading playful books

  • Practicing tongue twisters

  • Playing alliteration games

  • Singing songs

  • Using repetition of sounds

  • Play Peek-A-Boo

  • Use a mirror to mimic facial expressions

  • Utilize puppets and create playful vocalizations


On the Move: Activities for Physical Development

Adults may see their children challenged by navigating their body in space, as seen with possibly struggling with falling, tumbling, and using alternate feet to walk up and down steps. These struggles are prominent when necessary muscle control, strength, and stamina have been under-developed, sometimes as a result of inactivity during the pandemic.

In order to work through these physical challenges, encourage your child to:

  • Play on playscapes to encourage climbing and maneuvering

  • Push their own stroller

  • Walk up and down steps with alternating feet

  • Participate in obstacle courses where they walk over objects (anything you have at home can work, such as boxes or toys, pillows and cushions)

  • Invite children to engage in self help skills — dressing themselves and carrying their own backpack filled with books

  • Encourage children to participate in simple tasks around the home - collecting, gathering and transporting objects and items


Letting Kids Be Kids

Children absorb the feelings and emotions held by those around them. During the pandemic, and in the aftermath of the trauma, this means young children often take on big emotions, including anxiety. Toddlers have not yet developed the emotional resilience needed to cope with these very big feelings and emotions.

To overcome social-emotional challenges, try to bring lots of joy and playfulness into your child's life. Goddard recommends the following for significant bonding:

  • Providing your child opportunities to laugh and be silly

  • Participating in big movement play with your child

  • Blowing bubbles

  • Messy play

  • Games including Hide-and-Seek or Peek-A-Boo

  • Catch-and-release games

  • Avoid screen time for several days at a time. Instead, join in more interactive activities , like cooking, play board games, tell stories. Put on a puppet show.

  • Dance and sing together


Identifying When a Child Needs Additional Support

At Corlears, our teachers observe, record, document, and interpret children’s behaviors as well as keep a record of the children’s growth and development across all domains: physical, emotional, social, cognitive, language, and communication.

If a concern is raised, it may translate into an identifiable delay based on the observations and inquiry of the teachers. Then, the families are provided with the necessary tools, strategies, and information to support their child. Through Corlears’ in-house Student Success Team — composed of our learning specialists, division directors, a school psychologist, and the assistant head of school — students across age levels are aided in reaching their highest potential of growth and development within the school environment. 

We also often recommend Early Intervention through the New York City Department of Health for children infancy through 3 years of age. Early Intervention offers short-term intensive support that takes place in your child’s natural environment. Records from an Early Intervention Evaluation are expunged when the child turns 3.

No matter what challenges you and your child might be experiencing, remember that all children are resilient. With time, dedication, devotion and supportive action, all children will feel successful. At Corlears, we are here to support you and your child every step of the way.