I live across from a day care. Every day the toddlers come streaming out into their mother’s (and nanny’s) arms. They usually squirm away to their favorite tree nearby and start climbing all over it giving their mothers time to chat.

Lately, I’ve noticed unique patterns of play—unique to me, not likely to child development professionals.

  • In game play, children start with rules. “No! You can’t step on the lines.”
  • Children instinctively work in teams. When corralling a crawling sibling or starting a game, two is good, more is preferable.
  • Imagination is both infectious and linear. When one toddler is riding the “pony” (really a low hanging tree branch)  then the rest of the toddlers see it as a pony and also want to ride it, or begin to play riding games.

While the games these kids are playing are not new, thinking through their actions, behaviors and words can provide insight into cognitive and social development.