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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > 2 to 3 Years > Intellectual Development

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Intellectual Development - Numeracy: 2 to 3 years

Intellectual Development means being able to communicate, to think both creatively and abstractly, to pay attention, solve problems, and develop keen judgment and a lifelong readiness to learn.

Emerging Skills
  • Sort groups of objects into sets
  • Become aware of the names of numbers
  • Become aware of the verbal sequence of numbers
  • Begin to understand the meaning behind numbers
  • Begin to develop an understanding of one-to-one correspondence (one plate for one person or one toothbrush for one slot in a holder)
  • Begin to understand ordinal numbers
  • Begin to understand the concept of time – "soon," "in a long time" and so on
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your toddler, 2 to 3 years.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, toddlers will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Sing number songs and rhymes
  • Child Will:
  • Become aware of number names and sequences in songs and rhymes
  • Begin to remember number sequences and develop confidence in using numbers (even if the way in which the numbers are used is incorrect)
  • Begin to practice numbers and number sequences during play

  • Parents Can:
  • Incorporate numbers and counting into daily routines, such as tidying up toys or putting away tin cans
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to understand numbers are a part of her everyday environment
  • Begin to experiment with the way numbers are used to gain a better understanding of them
  • Begin to understand the concept of one-to-one correspondence, although it will not be mastered beyond one to three objects at this stage

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, toddlers will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while also learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Incorporate counting into child-initiated activities, such as block building. For example, "Let's count how many blocks you used in your tower"
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to recognize and correctly repeat number sequences up to four
  • Begin to understand the meaning of one, although guidance is still needed at this stage

  • Parents Can:
  • Introduce the concept of ordinal numbers in simple games. For example, "Who is first, who is second"
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to experiment with ordinal numbers using phrases such as "me first"
  • Experiment with ordinal numbers, often using them incorrectly, but wanting to use the words and hear the sounds
  • Begin to recognize that numbers are used in different ways

  • Parents Can:
  • Initiate counting games such as "hide-and-seek" or "what time is it Mr. Wolf?" which offer them the opportunity to model counting, and their toddler the chance to hear number sequences
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to repeat number sequences correctly
  • Try to count in other games with his friends

  • Teach

    Through routines, and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, toddlers can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Introduce the concept of time when following routines. For example, begin to talk about what happens in the morning, the afternoon, the evening and so on
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to understand that events follow a sequence
  • Begin to understand that a clock is what adults use to tell time
  • Begin to experiment with the use of time in her play, usually in imaginary play situations. For example, "I am the daddy and I will be home after daycare"

  • Parents Can:
  • Introduce simple number puzzles
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to associate the spoken number two with the written number "2"
  • Begin to understand that numbers and events follow a sequence

  • Parents Can:
  • Offer experiences for their toddler to sort objects. For example, all the puzzles in this box, all the crayons in this tin
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to understand the concept of sorting
  • Experiment with sorting in other areas, such as with blocks (for example, putting all the big blocks in one pile and little ones in another)

  • Social Development: 2 to 3 years
    Emotional Development: 2 to 3 years
    Intellectual Development - Language: 2 to 3 years
    Intellectual Development - Problem Solving: 2 to 3 years

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