Toddlers years are full of exciting milestones. With the ability to do things independently comes increased self-awareness and curiosity. Children learn from listening and observing the world around them. Each child’s development is different. Recognizing and tailoring the activities according to your child’s age and development, helps you to lay a foundation for their early learning. All the different activities you do will help you to bond significantly with your child.
Teaching your toddler is going to be exciting, challenging, and tiring! Tiring? you ask! Absolutely. They are these never stopping, ever playing, never sleeping little monsters! Where do they get that energy?
Efforts need to come from parents. Period! Parents are the motivation, inspiration, and influence for their kids. Children learn from parents. There may be many ways to start your child on to the path of early learning. But below 11 factors that had helped me when my son was a toddler and have been helping me now with my 20-month-old.
1) Be in the moment
This is one of the most important statements for parents. We are more stressed than ever with too many things on our plate. We are happy to engage our toddlers with any gadgets available, or happy if they play by themselves. But what are they learning? What are we teaching? One fine day we realize that they are behind few milestones and we try to rush them. This leads to frustration. I know every child’s development is different. When you are around your toddler, be there in the moment. It’s guaranteed that they are going to have fun and without a doubt, you would too.
2) Have patience
Be patient when teaching your toddler. If you want to work on your toddler’s early learning development, you need to learn to be patient. They might throw tantrums; they will get distracted, but you don’t give up! Make sure the little tummies are fed and also make sure they get a good nap. You have to develop patience, can’t stress enough! ( strong as a steel!). The little monsters will soon follow. Once you teach something to your toddler chances are they will ask you to do it again and again. You might have to keep doing it multiple times. If that is the case,do it. Once you had enough, try to distract by talking to them about something else. Leave all your worries, all your tasks at the shore. Patience comes by being present in the moment.
Use a variety of words to praise them. Like ” amazing”, “excellent”, “good job”, “marvelous” or “wonderful”. All this builds their vocabulary too!
4) Every Opportunity a Learning Opportunity
Wherever you go, whatever you do, keep asking questions. “What are they saying?,” What is he holding?”. As an example Let’s say you go to a store, ask your toddler what color a particular object is? How many of them, or the name of the object. Teach them, repeat with them. If you do this in a funny manner, they will love it. They like fun! Toddlers would indeed remember such fun stuff.
5)Teaching tools are all around, look for them
Toddler teaching tools are right in front of you, in your house! Use them as your teaching tools. A staircase in your house , plates, Cups,straws, finger food and more!. Chances are there are sets of these cups and plates. Use these cups and plates to teach your toddler to count or to teach your toddler to identify the colors. On a staircase?! count while walking up and down. Jump one step at a time, sing a fun song of numbers. Have stickers at home? Use them to identify colors, put them on to your toddler’s shoulder, head and foot tell them what each body part is and then repeat!. Repetition is the key!
6) Talk talk talk
Talking to your child is a key. Talking need not be just talking something. You could sing or read aloud. All of these help in a child’s brain development. Whether you are driving a car or putting your little one to sleep or in a kitchen trying to get some chores done, I repeat, Talk Talk Talk. Whenever I drive with my daughter, I keep talking to her. I sing songs(whatever happens in the car stays in the car!). I speak of a tree or a windmill that we saw on our recent trip(By the way, we started calling it “Big Big Fan”) or a bus standing next to us. You might feel like you are talking forever, but eventually, it will pay off.
7) Be animated Be Silly
You have to become a toddler. Kids love when you are animated or when you act funny. They like to see an adult act silly and funny. Whenever you see something or whenever something unusual happens, get a little animated. My daughter laughs out so loud when my husband acts silly, and soon I have two silly monkeys in my home! They roll on the floor, they run around the house, they play hide-and-seek. All these activities are fun. There was this incident when my daughter spilled her juice, So I started saying “Oh no, Oh oh…” She began to repeat it, and when my husband returned from his work, she was telling him with exact expression. “Oh no, Oh oh, Juice”! Your child will learn to be expressive. Manifestations of sadness, happiness, excitement all these developmental skills are vital.
8) Look for Clues
To teach your toddler, you don’t have to come up with your ideas all the time. If you observe carefully, they provide a lot of ideas to you. My daughter started saying “5 Ghosts” one day, I immediately got her on to counting. I try to add in counting in any activity we do. After teaching her to identify colors for multiple days, my daughter started identifying the colors of the cups. From then on anything we do I keep asking her to identify the colors of anything and everything we see. Consistency is the name of the game. So be consistent.
9) Interactive learning
15- 20 mins of screen time is a great way for them to learn interactively. I would suggest Youtube videos from AJ.Jenkins his voice is so soothing and my daughter learned a lot. Another you could try is Super simple songs. You could also give them a tab or phone. But be careful, it’s not easy to take it back. Also, make sure the screen time is minimal.
10 ) Cognitive Play
Always make their activities learn and play. Add building blocks. They are very important for a child’s cognitive development. Invest your time in showing them how they are connected. There are amazing building blocks for toddlers and you can check my reviews on building blocks for toddlers.
11) Never think your toddler is too early for something
You might think it’s too early, but toddlers are capable of doing anything. All infants and toddlers are natural learners whether it’s reading or writing. Look for clues you would know what to teach them.
A lot of continuous effort is needed from parents. We have a long road ahead of us. But if we develop the patience and enjoy being present and do all the required little things we will soon see them getting ready for their future years and not only that, we would also cherish the quality moments we spend together.