What Does Your Toddler Really Want?

We can work ourselves into a frenzy during the holidays. There are so many special meals, so many people to see (and please), so many events to get to. On top of it all for many of us there is the consideration of gifting and the age old question “What might your child want?” The staff at the Hopkins Harley Family Center hope that our list of “perfect gifts” for your toddler offers a different insight into what your family might most need.

  • Time Together: A toddler has the most fun when he is playing with you. If the toddler feels like your attention is completely focused on your activity together, he is most content. This sort of play can involve blocks, a walk through the neighborhood, dolls, making a snowperson or even just sitting and looking out the window at the snow fall. The fact that you two are doing it together is much more important than what you are playing with.  This is the reason that toddlers consider folding laundry, shoveling snow and sweeping a floor to be play–it is done with you.  Our days and weeks are filled with requirements–especially during a time when there are more expectations on us as adults to get things organized for events or festivities. Take time to let go of the stress, leave something undone for a while, and enjoy the gift of time with your child.
  • Tradition: During times in the calendar year when we see tradition the most, we tend to sigh at having to carry out these time-honored experiences. The rituals you decide to include in your family life, however, can create an identity for your child that will have increasing importance each year he grows. A child gains a sense of self and is able to define the importance of family when he who knows that for each birthday there is a candle lit for dinner, or during the first snowfall there is always a snowball fight, or on every Saturday there are pancakes for breakfast. Your gift of traditions and rituals do  not need to be intricate or expensive. Your toddler is looking for something he can count on, so decide on traditions that are easily repeatable and tend to be fun for all.
  • Acceptance: During this time of year especially, TV shows, commercials, magazine articles and marketing campaigns show us perfect families toasting each other over a perfect dinner with smiles and laughter and joy all around. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the images you see are real. Life with toddlers is often a lot messier, involves much more mundane dinners, and will inevitably involve tears and tantrums. It is a real gift to your child to accept who he is, and to accept what he can handle during these first years of life. Realistic expectations of yourself and all the members of your family can shift the priority from “perfect” to “perfect for us”.
  • Take Time To Read Together: Cuddling over a great book–even if it is a board book and you have read it one thousand times before–is the kind of quiet, subdued and joyful toddler memory that lasts a lifetime.  Follow your toddler’s lead when reading together. If he wants to zoom through the book then just point to pictures. If he wants to linger and read the book over and over then do so. The act of being together and sharing this moment is far more important than urging your toddler to learn something from the experience. The gift you are offering him during these early years of reading together is a love of literature and an appreciation of story. This will be the motivation he will need when he is learning to read later on in school.

During the busy months of the year, the time when we tend to get over-stressed and over-worked, remember to focus on the most important gift: staying true to your family priorities.

OPEN GYM – Saturdays (for children birth to 5 years)

Beat the winter wiggles!

Our OPEN GYM gives parents and children a place to move, play, and have fun! Saturdays throughout the winter.

Open Gym classes are drop-in classes in which you can attend any or all of the class offerings. Registration for individual classes must be made 24 hours prior to the date by calling 952-988-5000. Or register for the series online at www.HopkinsCommunityEd.org.

501DW  –  Saturdays Jan. 19 – March 16

10 – 11:30 a.m.

Harley Hopkins Family Center, room 36



Come in from the cold- indoor family fun!

Indoor winter event ! Enjoy playing with snow and ice, making snowflake art, singing snowy songs, listening to winter tales, and enjoying warm cocoa, all indoors.

For families with children ages 2-5 years. Childcare for children 6-24 months available, $5 per child in Harley, room 35.

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013

10:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m.


#405EW: Harley Hopkins Family Center

Register online at www.HopkinsCommunityEd.org or by calling 952-988-5000.

Winter/Spring ECFE Classes

Join us and discover the fun and learning that takes place every day at Hopkins Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). Meet other parents, connect and play with your child, join discussions led by licensed parent educators and much more!

Register online at www.HopkinsCommunityEd.org or by calling 952-988-5000.