Turning Target Runs into Developmental Milestones

[This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Primrose Schools; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.]

You’re probably here because you are eager to find out whether your toddler is hitting all of his or her age-appropriate milestones.  In case you’re nervous about reading further, don’t be.  The skills I discuss below are extremely easy to develop and practice with your child at home, and you may even need to go celebrate today because your child is on track!  So read on and be encouraged, mamas!

Our first year with Maddie was all about nurturing: making sure she was fed, changed, washed, and put to sleep.  Now that Maddie has turned two, our focus has naturally shifted towards fostering core life skills at home.  As much as I want to deny it, she’s growing up quickly, and I believe it is of the utmost importance to set her up for future success.

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Recently, I became familiar with Executive Function Skills through Primrose Schools.  What sounded complex at first turned out to be basic skills that we were either already working on, or skills that could be easily incorporated into our day-to-day activities.

According to Primrose, there are six executive function skills that can be taught at an early age. They are:

  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Self-control
  • Memory

How simple is this list?  I’m going to talk briefly about how we’ve been working on three of those skills at home, sometimes even without knowing it!

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Problem solving. Maddie has been learning that a lot of things won’t go her way in life. Her response has often been “uh oh!” followed by a big pout, and sometimes even crying for not getting her way. During these instances, we have been trying to help Maddie find a solution instead of wallowing in her disappointment.

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Here, Maddie was playing with PlayDoh, and it didn’t flatten out the way she had wanted. I sat next to her and demonstrated how to use her roller to flatten out the piece that she was disappointed about. The next time this happened, she grabbed the roller herself and was able to flatten out the piece that she was working on.  Ta-da, problem solving practiced during playtime at home!

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Teamwork. We recently enrolled Maddie into a toddler’s class at church. Every Sunday, she attends these two-hour classes, while we attend service. One thing we quickly noticed about Maddie in her first classroom setting was that she was having difficulty demonstrating the skill of teamwork.  In many ways, this may be a very natural byproduct of her having been at home with just me for the first two years of her life, almost never having to share or work with a peer.

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Now, we’ve been looking for ways to encourage her to be a team player. We’ve implemented family clean-up time into our daily schedule.  We sit in her play area with her at night, before she goes to sleep, and we encourage her to clean with us by prompting and asking her to cover an area or a set of toys. Once we are done with our clean-up time, we praise her for having been a great help in accomplishing our goal and exchange high-fives (which is one of Maddie’s favorite praises from us).  Tada, teamwork practiced accomplished while cleaning the house!

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Self-control.
Maddie is an EXPERT at this, and we let her know how proud we are of her for being so good at this skill!  Earlier today, we made our usual Target run. When we go into Target, Maddie HAS to grab every single thing from the toy section and put them into our cart. But we leave Target with zero toys most of the time. And when we leave, no one is crying, throwing a tantrum, or upset. That, to me, is a display of amazing self-control.  Tada, self-control practiced while shopping!

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Didn’t I say these important skills were so easy to be taught!? Being intentional with your child’s day-to-day activities will help them develop these Executive Function Skills that will go such a long way, both in their schooling and in their future careers.

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>> And of course, I saved the best for last—Primrose Schools is giving away a $250 gift card to Barnes & Nobles along with five children’s books to ten lucky winners!  To enter, subscribe to their Pointers for Parents newsletter here!

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