Grandfamily Today recommends all infant and toddler toys deliver interaction with you as a caregiver to facilitate a “Serve and Return” brain-building experience. Serve and Return as described by Center on the Developing Child Harvard University are child-adult relationships that are responsive and attentive with many back and forth interactions which in turn builds a child’s brain. “It takes two to play!” (Center on the Developing Child, 2019). The toys Grandfamily Today recommends for birth to five years are meant to be used in interaction with your little one. Here are the steps to utilize Serve and Return as recommended by the Center on the Developing Child Harvard University when using these toys:

  1.  Notice the “serve” (what is drawing the child’s attention) and share the child's focus of attention

  2.  Return the serve by supporting and encouraging

  3. Give it a name! When you return a serve by naming what a child is seeing, doing, or feeling, you make important language connections in their brain, even before the child can talk or understand your words. You can name anything—a person, a thing, an action, a feeling, or a combination. If a child points to their feet, you can also point to them and say, “Yes, those are your feet!”

  4. Take turns…and wait. Keep the interaction going back and forth. Every time you return a serve, give the child a chance to respond. Taking turns can be quick (from the child to you and back again) or go on for many turns. Waiting is crucial. Children need time to form their responses, especially when they’re learning so many things at once. Waiting helps keep the turns going.

  5. Practice endings and beginnings. Children signal when they’re done or ready to move on to a new activity. They might let go of a toy, pick up a new one, or turn to look at something else. Or they may walk away, start to fuss, or say, “All done!” When you share a child’s focus, you’ll notice when they’re ready to end the activity and begin something new.

©2020 Grandfamily Today, LLC