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I want to be sure that I am giving my son the best experience that I can at this critically developmental stage. He was with a sitter for the first 14 months, who did not stimulate him much past tv. He only knows 3 words and I want to do the best that I can now that I am home taking care of him.

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Listening to classical music, watching only educational programs, early educational games with flashcards for numbering training and the like. Wait, actually... none of that. Just lots of normal toddler games with colorful stuff, playing outside and exercising, and learning more basic skills like socializing with other people and eating without making a mess. Just be with the kid, play, talk, go about your normal day while they're with you and watch you, read bedtime stories and introduce a healthy routine. That's pretty much "the best experience". –  haylem Mar 5 at 16:55

5 Answers 5

18 months isn't an age to be worried about "teaching" so much; it's an age to be giving interesting experiences and allowing him to grow into his own.

Take him outside, let him play on the playground regularly. Take him out to see other kids. Talk to other adults around him, so he can learn words from you. Keep the TV off - entirely if necessary. Read to him, interact with him, give him plenty of attention - the rest will come.

He'll pick up language best by listening to people talk to him and around him, most likely (although consult your pediatrician if you're concerned about the language side of things; 3 words at 18 months is certainly on the late side, and while I'd say it's not worrisome, I'm also not a pediatrician nor do I have experience with your child).

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Talk to them. A lot. The is a well documented link between conversation and vocabulary.

Read to them. A lot. Several books a day.

Both play with them as well as fostering self play. We found Lego Duplo worked very well with our son.

Provide social interaction with other children similarly aged.

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The best thing you can do is to enjoy being with him. That way you'll naturally involve him in your activities. Toddlers love to help and be involved with mommy or daddy. The learning at this stage will happen as you two just do life together. Talk to him, hand him things, ask him to get you things, tickle him, roll around, hide under a blanket, etc.

To bolster that, give him dedicated "slots" in the day where you read a book together or play with a couple of toys, just for his sake. Your day is bound to fill up with to-dos, so you need to strike a balance. But, if he's involved in your day, and helping, parenting is a lot more fun and he'll benefit from morning till evening as you two do it together.

Also, do not compare him with your perfect sister/colleague/neighbour whose child was walking at 8 months and plays the violin at 2. The most important things our three get is love and prayer and they are all flourishing. All the best!

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Good for you, makin te choice to stay home with your son! I bet his language skills have already sky-rocketed! The thing I've found, being a stay-at-home mom, is that I know my son extremely well. What I'm teaching him in our time together happens naturally from day to day. So today he is interested in dancing, so we dance to some different songs. Tomorrow, maybe we play with drums, the day after we see the garbage truck go by so we watch a couple videos of garbage trucks, and read a garbage truck book, and take out the garbage together. I've also done a few "themes", especially when I know we will be going on an outing. So- I decided I wanted to get us a fish to take care of. That's a planned outing to the pet store. But first, we watched a couple aquarium videos. We bought a book with a story about a fish. We cut out fishes for the felt board. Made fish faces at meal time! Sang a couple fish songs. All this over the course of a week or so. Then: the big visit to the pet store. He went wild, absolutely lost his little 20-month old mind. And has been helping to take care of "Pete" ever since (that's how he says fish - peekh). We have so much fun!

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Hi Tam, welcome to the parenting.SE community! Great first post, hope to see you more often here:) –  Dariusz May 14 at 17:59

The most important thing to teach a child at this age is your true and unconditional love towards him. Even if he doesn't understand the words you're saying, he will understand your expression, sound and actions.

While this might sound a bit esoteric at first, children in their first years base everything on whether or not they receive love from their parents for an action or not. Even later (teen an upward) it makes a huge difference between a strong and motivated child or one that is depressed and unmotivated.

Beyond that you should follow the usual things suitable for children at that age, they are usually developed by experts who know what is suitable for a child at a certain age. Children learn best if all senses are included while doing so. Seeing a picture of a dog is one thing, having a book with those pictures on buttons that when pressed will play the sound of a barking dog (see, touch, hear) is better, letting him play with a real dog is best (with an appropriate dog for his age).

Try not to overstimulate him. It is often hard to understand that children at that age can get easily confused if to many things are presented to him. While a single, calm dog in an otherwise empty room is great, putting him together with 20 barking and running dogs might scare him. Use your empathy to understand what your son is able to take and don't get over-zealous. Should he - for some reason - in the end not be the next Nobel-prize winner, remember the most important thing: unconditional love.

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