Tips for Playing with (and teaching) a Toddler

As a Dad one of the most gratifying things I get is to play with my son. The health and developmental benefits aside, it’s a whole lot of fun. We get to learn about each other’s personalities and I get to teach him what I’m interested in and try to follow along on his interests.

I’m going to break this down into a few general tips focused around one of the things he likes the most: pretending to be a pirate!

Tip #1 – Learn together

When your kid asks you to dress him up like a pirate, you answer the call. The first thing we did was figure out how to make him a pirate hat (I found a tutorial about how to make an origami hat and we worked through it together).

It turned out that he loved the origami part more than the pirate part! So what did we do? He became an origami pirate and we built some paper ships and had an entire battle on the high seas (his bathtub).

I also suggest making obvious mistakes sometimes so that they can correct you. If they don’t notice, that becomes a game of its own!

Tip #2 – Engage in structured play and free play

According to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education, toddlers should have at least half an hour of a structured activity (physical and adult-guided) and at least an hour of unstructured free activities.

They also shouldn’t be inactive for more than 60 minutes at a time (unless they’re asleep).

Tip #3 – Engage in real dialogue

One of the best tools for helping your child develop is having a real back and forth dialogue. Don’t talk to teach, talk to learn from one another.

I’ll try to add to this article from time to time as I continue to learn from him. Feel free to contact me with ideas for future articles or other tips you think might be useful.