Make springtime a learning time for toddlers

as-toddlerSpring months give parents a valuable opportunity to plan budget-friendly, family-centred learning activities.

Robin Stevens, a registered early childhood educator, says the key to creating fun while learning at home is to just enjoy some family time together.

“There are many factors involved when choosing activities for your child, age and development being big ones,” Stevens says. “Don’t overwhelm your young child with large crowds or events that are too advanced.

“A simple morning at a park watching squirrels or feeding birds goes a long way.”

As a registered member of the College of Early Childhood Educators, Stevens is one of over 50,000 RECEs in Ontario whose professional expertise includes the planning and delivery of play-based, developmentally appropriate curricula for children from birth to age six and beyond.

RECEs have training in child development and know how to create environments and activities that foster social, behavioural, emotional, physical and cognitive growth.

“Use the library system,” Stevens continues. “Most have story times geared toward different age groups, and you can even just spend some quiet book time with your child. “You can also consult with other families in your child’s class. Perhaps you can arrange play dates that are fun for both children and parents.”

When it’s too cold to venture outside, websites like Pinterest can help parents plan fun crafts, cooking activities or science experiments.

“You can cut felt pieces and have children create their own snowmen, or paint the snow with food colouring using a spray bottle, squeeze bottle or brushes,” Stevens says.

“Another great activity is making bird feeders using peanut butter or WowButter and bird seed. The feeders can be hung at the backyard or at your local park.”

Complex isn’t always better. Using songs and books to help teach kids skills, like putting their thumbs in their mittens, are great activities and a simple snow walk can be a fun learning experience, too.

“That’s great to do after reading a book like The Snowy Day.” The latest policy work in Ontario underscores the tremendous role families play in the well-being of children and how important it is for an RECE to work with families to support children’s development.

“At any given time of the year, communication with a child care centre or a school is key,” says Stevens. “Share home observations and what you are working on so we can work together. This way we can add your observations to our curriculum.”

To learn more about early childhood education and the ongoing licensing requirements for RECEs, visit