Teaching toddlers is somewhat of a hidden mystery. Of course, we have Pinterest (thank goodness for Pinterest!), but it doesn’t really tell us the timeline to teach certain skills or always the why behind it. We want learning and crafts to be fun for our kids, of course, or why even do it? The goal of play-based learning in early childhood education is to begin to foster a love of learning. We want to create this love of learning early. The deeper the roots, the wider the garden. Here are some ways to teach your toddler to love the learning process.
If you can teach your child to find joy in the learning process, they (and you) will reap the benefits for years to come. Sending your child off to preschool and kindergarten with a mindset that learning is fun and enjoyable is equivalent to sending an athlete onto the field knowing that they are the best at their craft. We wouldn’t send our kids into game day without significant practice and learning the rules of the game first, would we? We want to give our children the appropriate head start that will in essence give them the confidence and ability to tackle new challenges that will eventually come their way.
Starting this learning process early and making sure it’s play-based and fun will set your child up to thrive for years to come.
#1 Make it FUN & Encourage Them
Toddlers should be having fun. Learning should not feel like work to them. They will have plenty of work for years to come; the learning process at this age should be fun. Focus on what motivates your child and use it. Toddlers and encouragement go hand and hand. Toddlers love anything encouraging so do your best to be positive and enthusiastic as possible when you’re teaching your child. Well-meaning praise can really enhance your child’s self-esteem and can help them tackle any new challenges that will come their way.
#2 Find Their Learning Style
While teaching kindergarten, I had many different types of learners. The majority fell into three categories: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (movement). My goal when teaching various types of learners is to always give each learner an opportunity to learn the material using their preferred learning style. This wasn’t something I labeled or anything they knew about, but you could often see how they best learned when something clicked for them. Using varied techniques to teach all three learning styles can benefit every student, since they are getting multiple chances to learn and experiment with the new material. When teaching your toddler a new skill, try to teach them using each learning style and notice which style seems to resonate with them most. I encourage you to continue using all three learning styles each time you introduce a new skill. This way, they will be getting multiple opportunities to practice, retain, and fully understand the new information.
#3 Play Games
One of my favorite things to do with my toddler is to play learning games. To him, it’s just fun because it’s a game and we’re playing it together, but it’s certainly a bonus since he’s in the learning process. Some of our favorite games to play right now are matching. We like to match uppercase & lowercase letters, letters & letter sounds, numbers & quantities, colors & color words, etc. One of his most favorite games to play is to hide all of the letters around the room and try to find them in order from A-Z, which is actually quite a hard task. Sometimes he even hides them and then finds them- which turns out to be a game of solo playing. Games are a great way to learn and practice new skills. And remember, when you’re having fun, they’re having fun. And when they’re having fun, the learning will stick.
#4 Make it Easy
As I mentioned earlier, Pinterest is an amazing resource to find fun crafts and activities to teach your little one, but it can be time-consuming and sometimes the timeline of when and how to teach it can be confusing or missing. My goal when I created our toddler curriculum was for it to be a parents’ complete one-stop shop and have everything parents need when teaching their kids from home. The entire curriculum was built to meet families where they are. For busy parents who want something for on the go, it can be as simple as print and go. You can learn more about the curriculum at membership.tisfortot.com or Etsy
#5 PLAY, PLAY, PLAY
Remember, the key is for them to play and have fun! Toddler learning is not meant to be overly structured, it’s meant for meaningful and enjoyable play. “How can I make it fun for kids so learning feels more like play” was the question I asked myself as I created T is for Tot. Check out my blog for more ideas. Happy playing and learning!