Toddlers: from 18 months to 36 months



  • Toddlers hear and understand what is said in conversations but they don’t always closely listen. In fact, at their age they need you to teach them how to pay attention.

Tip: Squat down or pick your child up so you can look her in the eye and grab her attention. She’ll listen much more closely if you sit down next to her or at a face-to-face level. If it is a correction of behaviour or an instruction, state your message clearly, simply, briefly and authoritatively. Your child will zone out if you harp on a topic too long. Be sure to always give praise when they carry out your instructions of correct a behaviour.



  • Toddlers are fascinated by new words and love to use them in conversations. By the age of two, toddlers may be using 50 or more single words.
  • Toddlers will start to get the hang of pronouns, such as ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘you’. She will also be using the words “no” and “yes” a lot.

Tip: Carry on simple conversations with the toddler and introduce new words and ideas through conversations. Remember that expertise in the child’s home language(s), irrespective of what the language is, is very important and will help with concept development and vocabulary growth.

  • Toddlers will chat to themselves as they play. They may shout at times as they do not yet understand how they can change their voice to find the right volume when talking.

Tip: When you sing a nursery rhyme she’ll attempt to sing along with you. So if you sing “twinkle twinkle little…” and pause, the toddler may add in “star.”


Emergent Reading

  • Toddlers now recognise letter writing as different from picture drawings. They also know that reading starts from top to bottom.

Tip:  When reading, stop and talk about the pictures, label objects on the page, and describe what they are seeing. This helps promote the child’s language development.

  • Toddlers may not be able to read but they love making up stories from looking at pictures.

Tip: Teach the toddler how to handle books. If you are able, have a small child’s bookshelf in the house with a variety of books for them to choose from. These books can even be magazines or comic pages of the newspaper. What is important is that the child handles written print freely, and can access them on their own.


Emergent Writing

  • Toddlers start to spend longer on each individual drawing now, covering more of the paper rather than making a single swirl.

Tip: Draw a single line and they can easily imitate it, though it may not be very straight.

  • At about 29 or 30 months, your child moves from mere scribbles to art; he’s more interested in colouring and painting, and he starts adding colours and trying to represent real objects and things.

Tip: Encourage their creativity by showing genuine enjoyment in their art. Help them write their name on their artwork.

  • By the time he’s 2 and a half, your toddler will be able to hold a thick pencil or crayon solidly in a writing position. They will also start making circular strokes or shapes and some will be able to write a few letters

Tip: Don’t feel pressured to push toddlers to learn to write; wait until they are really interested and excited about it.