Toddler Memory: Exploring Recall

My daughter is two and a half come the end of July. She is on track with all of her milestones, and has developed in all areas of her life. Her language has exploded, she is able to recognize colors, shapes and beginning letters, and she is starting to discover that she is capable of many things. One thing that she has developed that has astounded me is her memory, and more specifically, recall.

For Mother’s Day this year, I requested a trip to one of my favourite places in the world: Upper Canada Village. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Eastern Ontario, Canada, Upper Canada Village is a collection of historical buildings from all over the eastern part of the province, that hold significant historical semblance and value to our rich Canadian history. The town is loaded with completed homes from major settlers in the area, a church from the Lost Villages (stay tuned for an article that I am currently working on for this, it’s fascinating!), schoolhouses, working Mills, blacksmith, bakery, farms and more. The people who work within the town are all decked out in clothing from the era, and it is quite literally a village frozen in time from the year 1866.

At the entrance of the village, there is a small train that is supposed to represent the railway that once connected all these small hamlets and villages together. The tracks run alongside the water, and it’s a fun little ride. My daughter was overjoyed, completely enthralled aboard the train, and couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. She remembered the color of it, where it was located, who was with us on the train, which plush animal friend she brought with us on the train and so many more details that I would struggle to remember.

This enters into the importance of encouraging recall within your toddler’s learning. Asking them to remember simple things like what they had for breakfast or the name of their sibling or pet is enough to have them focus on retracing what they know, and begin a conversation. This can lead to development in other areas like language. Encouraging toddlers to speak about what they know will help them build their schemas (building upon what they already know) and will encourage language development and social skills.

Other ways to build memory and recall include playing matching games, asking what colors different objects are, patterning, asking what happens next within a routine, asking them to recall names of people in photographs, reciting book passages or singing along with songs that are familiar to them. Toddlers love to impress and love being given a valuable opportunity to speak and show you what they know. It’s important to set aside what you’re doing once in a while and just listen!

We received free passes to go back to Upper Canada Village this past weekend and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, my daughter instantly recognized the space and asked, “Where’s the train?!” Can you guess what activity we did first?


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