Activity Tips for 2 or more Toddlers
When we have more than one child, doing activities that involve more than coloring or play dough can seem like a daunting task. How do we manage two kids when there’s only one of us? How can they both possibly do an activity at the same time and get something out of it?
- Do the same activity, but at different levels.
- The younger child is watched closer, guided and helped more than the older child.
- The younger child might just be exploring the activity and/or observing while the older child does the activity.
- The discussion is with the older child. The whole process is about the exposure for the younger child. Of course, they won’t get the same thing out of the activity, but the exposure to it is great for the younger child.
- Have something ready for the younger child to do when he/she loses interest and needs a change in direction.
- When he or she has lost interest, let your child go do something else.
- Learning and activities should be fun!
- Ideas: blocks, play dough, free play, snack time, books… basically anything they are interested in and can do independently.
- The older child could be the model for the younger child. The younger child copies what the older sibling does.
- Two separate work areas might be helpful depending on your space, children, and the activity.
- Consider giving each child his/her own supplies so that sharing isn’t needed and the focus can be on the activity.
- There is no one “right” way to do most activities, so it’s okay if your child doesn’t do it “right” and does his/her own thing. This is part of your child developing at his/her own pace and exploring his/her world. As long as everyone’s safe and nothing’s damaged, why does it matter how they do an open-ended activity. Let each child interpret it his/her own way.
- Note: Sometimes, especially with younger children, leaving the activity out so they can come back to it helps. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it’s nice to try when you can.
- Make sure you have clear expectations for how you want or need your children to help before, during, and after the activity.
- Are they allowed to get up and walk around?
- Do they help clean up? If so, how?
- Keep trying. It’s not always easy. It likely won’t be smooth sailing right out the gates. But, it does get easier. I promise.
- Your children may not understand the activity the first time you do it and that’s ok. Repeat the activity another time. They’ll learn from the previous activity and start exploring more and making more inferences and connections the more practice and experience they have. It’s good for them to have exposure to new things. Perfection and mastery aren’t needed right now, and they’re not the goal. Having fun learning is the goal.
And, let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s not possible to do an activity with both kids at the same time. If your younger child still naps, doing an activity with your older child during nap time is another idea. Letting Baby watch from a bouncer, swing or from a high chair while trying out a snack are other ideas.
Lastly, keep activities simple.
Give yourself and your children grace and understanding and keep moving forward. Keep trying and you’ll find your groove. Use this FREE Activity Checklist to help make setting up activities easier. You might also like this post, which is packed full of information about toddler routines.