19 - 21 Months

The orientation schema: why your toddler loves a new view

Can’t get your toddler off the stairs? You can blame the “orientation” schema 🙃 

When your toddler hangs upside down, looks through their legs, rides on your shoulders, or climbs up or down stairs, they’re exploring what the world looks like from a different perspective. The orientation schema teaches your toddler about balance and movement, and what their body can do in relation to their environment.

5 toddler activities for the orientation schema

1. Offer opportunities to climb safely

  • Make a small obstacle course with something to climb over (like pillows), under (a chair or table), through (a play tunnel), and around (an ottoman or other larger obstacle). You can end your course with a homemade “crash pad”—a gym mat, large bean bag, or other soft landing spot for them to fall onto.
  • Section off part of a staircase by sitting on one step and having someone else sit a few steps below. Invite your toddler to go back and forth between you.
  • Consider investing in a Pikler Triangle, a classic Montessori tool for climbing.

2. Engage in “frolic play”

Frolic play is fun, physical play guided by an adult. This might include bouncing them on your lap, holding them around their torso (not their arms) and gently swinging them, playfully tossing them up in the air, or holding them by their ankles. This kind of movement engages their vestibular system, a sense that helps them learn to balance.

3. Push them in a bucket swing

This may seem like a no-brainer, but toddlers love the constant motion. If they need a little support, stuff a rolled-up blanket behind their back to steady them. To mix it up, try catching them by their feet, pushing them from both behind and in front, giving high fives, and playing peekaboo.

4. Let them step or crawl onto higher surfaces

Toddlers often love to get higher—or lower—whenever they can. This might mean stepping or crawling up onto a low curb at the park or a small step when you’re out for a stroll. When time permits, let them get up and down over and over again.

5. Give them a sturdy mirror during diaper changes

The Framed Mirror is a great tool for exploring this schema, as it allows your toddler to see their surroundings—as well as their own face—from multiple angles. Since your toddler is on their back, an unbreakable mirror gives them a new perspective as well as something to do with their hands 😉


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Posted in: 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Play to Learn, Movement & Coordination, Brain Development, Gross Motor, Cognitive Skills, Gross Motor, Cognitive Development, Indoor Play, Lovevery App, Schema Play, Child Development

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