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Activities to Support Social Development of Toddlers in Child Care

by Christina Schnell, studioD

Toddlers in a group child care setting have the benefit of interacting with many types of children. Supporting strong social development is a key responsibility of any professional child care giver, and one that requires a proactive effort. While infants are still developing a sense of themselves as distinct from others, toddlers learn to recognize the needs and feelings of others. Facilitating and encouraging social interaction through a variety of appealing group and partner activities helps ensure positive social development, according to KinderCare.com

Playground Activities

Recess or outdoor playtime lets toddlers burn off energy and socialize with their peers. Facing and making eye-contact with others is a pillar of social development, according to KinderCare.com. Toddler-size seasaws require children to face their partner and also cooperatively alternate between pushing and releasing. Tag or chase games encourages toddlers to create and follow their own rules such as "You be the bad guy and I'll run." Double swings or swinging horses are another way to foster closeness and face-to-face time between two tots.

Musical Activities

Most toddlers enjoy banging on a drum or playing a xylophone by themselves, but you can turn a love of music-making into a social opportunity, according to ChildCareHelp.org. Give two or three children the same instrument and have them sing a simple song while taking turns making sounds. This encourages them to take turns and make eye contact with each other. You can also arrange a small group and have the kids alternate between singing verses of an easy song such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

Interest Pairs

Doing activities together, based on shared interest, helps toddlers understand commonalities between themselves and their peers, according to KinderCare.com. Suggest activities between toddlers who share a similar interest, for example, "Brendon, that's a wonderful drawing you're doing, Katherine also loves to draw pictures, why don't you two draw something together?" Encourage children to assume complementary roles in potentially collaborative activities, for example, "Peter, Caroline also loves playing in the water table, why doesn't she help you build a dam in the middle of the magic river?"

Partnering Up

Finding a partner can be stressful even the most extroverted toddlers. Assigning partners ensures every toddler has a buddy and helps foster new friendships, according to KinderCare.com. Pair off toddlers during circle time and have them hold hands while playing Simon Says, for example, ask the toddlers to jump up and down while holding hands with each other, or have one partner touch the other partner's elbow with their pinky. Have each pair hold a colorful scarf at either end to create a rainbow tunnel that each toddler runs through one at a time.

About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

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