Every parent wants the best for their children especially when it comes to what they eat and their education. You must be wondering when is a good time to start your child on the ABCs and 123s. The truth is, educating your infant starts the minute he is born. Everything you do, everything you say and the time spent with him is all new things for him, and he will learn this as he grows older.
For example, a father who takes his daughter to the park is already teaching her valuable lessons. For one, there’s trust. Two, the father talks to the child, points out all the colors and shapes that she sees- this is all part of educating the child. Sure it may not be in a classroom setting but there are many ways of educating a child and in the confines of a classroom isn’t the only way. When you talk, your child absorbs all this information, expanding his vocabulary and at the same time identifying the things around him. Education also happens when the family eats together, prays together or reads together and even spends time together. Teaching also happens during bedtime- when you teach your child to wash himself, brush his teeth and when you read him a bedtime story.
All these things are stuff that cannot be taught in school because, at the end of the day, the world we live in is a source of education for toddler and heck, even adults. Erin Seaton, lecturer at the Department of Education at Tufts University in Massachusetts, says that “Toddlers love to master new concepts, so it's the perfect time to lay the foundation for future skills like reading and counting,"
The key to toddler education is playing off from your child’s interests. Have plenty of fun doing everyday activities is what will make him interested. Add in colors and sounds and role-playing and you have a kid that is vibrant, energetic and eager to learn.
Here are some of the first few things that you can teach your toddler once she has reached the age of one:
Some of the simplest ways to learn the letters of the alphabet are by teaching her to spell her name. By doing this, your child will be able to recognize the letters that make up her name and to reinforce this, have her name displayed throughout your home such as on her bedroom door, on her baby high chair and even on the fridge. By saying out loud each letter, your child will know how to say it and how it sounds. Remember how we were taught the alphabet in school - say and repeat it? Do it exactly like this.
Whenever you are anywhere with your child, point out words and letters on signage, boxes and places you frequently visit with her. Sherril English, the education professor at Southern Methodist University, says that saying things out loud will help our child think of words that rhyme, which will then improve her vocabulary. Remember to speak slowly, enunciate clearly as you read your words.
Just like reading, counting also requires you to count it out for your toddler so that she may be able to recite them as they grow older. Listening to you say the numbers will make it easier for her to catch the pronunciation and say it on her own eventually. While toddlers can somehow say the words when they turn one or two years old, they will probably not be able to count until they reach preschool. But by repeating and saying numbers out loud, they are able to recognize these numbers. Try buttoning up your toddler’s dress or shirt and say ‘one, two, three buttons’. Things like that will help them identify numbers. Use your fingers when counting too so that your toddler will be able to copy you.
Show & Tell
Teaching your child early mathematics even before she goes off to preschool involves observation and comparison. Parents must know that toddlers are master copiers and sorters- babies and toddlers learn fast by observing and copying so take advantage of that. What you can do is get your child to group her toys accordingly- blocks in the basket, stuffed animals in a box and same colored toys in one drawer. Your toddler will learn how to coordinate things and best of all- you didn’t have to clean up after her. Your child will learn a lot by observing you so instill good manners in her as well like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
Have Fun Learning!
Toddlers love colors and shapes. Get a shape book to that you can help your child color inside the shapes and tell her what these shapes are. Again, spell it out so she identifies the letters as well. You can also draw basic shapes on a piece of paper or while flipping through magazines or newspapers, cut out different shapes and tell your child what these shapes are. If you are out for a walk with her, point out at street signs and ask her what it is- you’d be surprised she’ll be able to identify them. Point at a round tire or a square window or even a rectangular brick- ask her what they are. All these different activities increases bonding between parent and child.
You can also use cookie cutters to help your toddler identify shapes. Even food can be used to help your child identify shapes such as squares of a sandwich or cookies that are rectangular or round, look at pancakes, slices of cheese and even bread. You can even create a shape chart for her and label each shape so she’ll learn from memory as well. These are excellent tips to get your child to learn and identify shapes.
Colors are another fun thing to learn. This can be done with food or even art projects. Get your toddler to do finger painting with you or go on a scavenger hunt to find for different color things such as a red brick or a green garden hose, a yellow flower, the blue of the sky and even a green leaf. You’d get your child to learn about the outdoors and colors at the same time.
When getting your child to clean up after himself, use descriptive language such as ‘Can you please put in the blue ball into the yellow box?’. During mealtimes, you can ask him if he’d like a red apple or a yellow banana or if he would like green grapes. Identifying the colors with the food also helps the child quickly equate different items in the household with its colors. All these different things sets the foundation for your child.
Learning doesn’t need to start when the child starts pre-school. It can start right at home. In fact, research shows that children with a strong set of attitudes and skills gives them a head start in school and helps them learn faster. They will be much better equipped to take advantage of the educational opportunities present in the schooling environment. Some learning skills come naturally to kids while some can be developed through supportive schooling environment.