9 Ideas On Teaching Your Toddler At Home
Toddlers are adorable! Forget ‘the terrible twos’ and embrace the wondrous, adventurous and curious little explorers that they are. At this stage, all they want to do is discover the ‘rest of the kingdom’, taking note of the ‘watering holes’ and other such ‘exciting’ fixtures around the house. Early childhood education should be all about play and discovery. If you are blessed with these inquisitive jet-fueled tots, here are nine practical and holistic ideas that can help them learn at home.
1. Use Your Space Creatively
Whether you choose to transform a corner in his bedroom or a part of the family room, the goal should be to capture your child’s attention and provoke him to explore, discover and learn. Interestingly designed wallpaper for a focal point, baskets and bins in place of shelves for books, colorful magazines, maps, photos or flashcards, toys to bring play into the mix, throw pillows to cozy the area, two chairs (one for you) and a colorful toddler desk to complete the picture. Make slight changes every so often to keep your child interested.
2. Learning with Toys and Games
Toys and games play a big role in a child’s development by enriching their imagination, sharpening various skills and inspiring creativity. Building Blocks, for example, help children learn eye-hand coordination, colors, placement, sizes and numbers while puzzles inspire problem solving. Are you a tech mom? Go on and take advantage of the numerous interesting and educative apps online for further learning.
3. Make Reading & Writing Fun
Reading to babies and young children helps them develop a love for books at an early age. Choose from a wide selection of books designed for kids in hard cover, fluffy fabrics, some with peeping holes and inbuilt sound. Pack some books when on the move for your child to leaf through. Encourage family reading sessions to inspire your younger child. Begin a treasure hunt where you hide notes written out for your child to read and receive whatever is on it. Visit book stands and allow your child to sift through.
Likewise, you can help your child develop fine motor skills for scribbling and coloring by playing with building blocks and making shapes using play dough. Encourage writing by making his books and materials accessible. Play pretend with your child exchanging scribbled ‘love notes’. At first, the squiggles will look like tiny worms at the corner of page but cheer him up as he doodles; all great writers began here!
4. Observe, Discover and Nurture
Nurturing your child’s talent is an important part of learning. In the formative years, you can already begin observing his interests. What is he drawn to? What does he gravitate towards? Is it sports, music, art or cooking? Once you notice some inclination, make conscious efforts to encourage and nurture the budding gift. There are numerous apps on Google Play or Apple Store that can help.
5. Teach Life Skills in a Fun Way
According to Sally Kimani, a consultant in early childhood development, children who are taught basic life skills before joining preschool become more confident and adjust more easily. There are lots of activities in the home front that are both fun and educative. Such include teaching your child to count and sort colors as you wash toys in a warm bubbly tub. You can repeat the lesson on counting and color-coding as you fold clothes and organize the house. Let your tot tag along in the kitchen and help wash fruits and veggies as he learns their names and colors. Help him name basic household items throughout the house. Remember to teach self care skills such as brushing teeth, washing hands, potty and toilet training, bathing, dressing and personal laundry.
6. Encourage Social Skills
Toddlerhood is the best time to start setting limits and encourage good behavior from your little one. Going into pre-school with a set of basic social skills will help your child adjust better, build healthy friendships fast and follow basic instructions. Introduce the golden words – please, thank you and sorry. Teach and demonstrate patience, self-control and sharing. Always applaud good behavior.
7. Watch & Learn
Young Children learn best from interactive, hands-on experiences with family members and caregivers. Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages watching of TV for children under two. TV is passive and can limit the child’s development. However, your child can benefit from shows in which the characters engage kids in direct conversation such as Dora the Explorer. You can also make the shows more practical for your child by getting involved in the activity – skip, hop, jump, and sing along or get out manila, crayons and draw.
8. Encourage Learning from Nature
Taking nature walks should not only be refreshing but also educative. Learn together with your child the plant life in your locality as well as the birds, stones, soil and animals if any. Your child may have seen pictures of some wild animals, pay a visit to the animal parks and add life to the pictures! Take photos of your days out and begin creating a portfolio of the great outdoors, your child will love the involvement.
9. Become Your Child’s Biggest Fan
Affirmation plays a big role in a child’s overall learning and development; it makes them more confident and well rounded. It sets them free to take ‘risks’ as they grow up knowing that ‘someone has their back’. As you educate your child, always applaud the little efforts made, the squiggles, the matching of colors and even the apple coloured ‘outside the lines’. As you do so, your child looks forward to doing more and better every day.