Toddlers (1-3 years of age) are at a crucial stage of development and learning. At the same time, their attention span is relatively tiny. Instead of sitting down with them to teach them things, it’s better to include learning in day-to-day chores. Indulging your toddler in the kitchen and asking them to name the number of peas in their food is one such great example. Making things fun and a part of their routine will make them learn faster. For working parents, it’s a blessing to teach their toddler this way.
Most working parents feel guilty about not spending an adequate amount of time with their toddlers. Especially working mothers feel extra burdened by the work responsibilities after childbirth feeling guilty of not taking proper care of their toddlers, including spending time teaching them.
As a result, almost half of the working women take an extended break from their careers to focus on their toddlers.
Trying to figure out how much time you should, as a parent, teach your toddler in a day can be frustrating. How much can a toddler learn with such a small attention span? During what time of the day is it best to teach your child? What are different ways your toddler can learn from you? Let’s try to find out answers to all these exciting questions!
When to start teaching your toddler?
When it comes to your child’s early education, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out when’s the right time to do so.
After all, how much can your toddler learn when they don’t even know how to speak correctly yet? Also, how about their small attention span?
Child development starts from an early age. It turns out your baby is learning everything since the minute they’re born.
Your infant might not show it, but they’re learning everything that’s happening around them, including the language you speak as a family. That’s why it’s important to speak as many languages as possible with your baby.
Bilingual children have more advantages in their life as compared to children who only speak English.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kids between 1 and 3 are considered toddlers. But the most your toddler is learning is from you! You can start sending your toddler to a preschool as early as 2.5 years of age.
Usually, in the United States of America, children start attending kindergarten from age 5. But different states have different criteria for sending children to a grade level based on their age.
That’s how the education system works, but your baby’s early education starts way before that and their toddler age (1-3 years) is crucial for that.
How to start teaching your toddler?
So, now your baby just had their first birthday, and you’re wondering when the right time to start their education is.
You don’t know that your baby can start learning as early as 9 months of age. It’s when they learn how to say “bye,” “hello,” “yes,” and “no.” Calling you “mom” or “dad” is a part of it.
This is your toddler’s knowledge at the age of 1 year old. It further progresses to learning the languages you speak at home (it doesn’t matter if you speak two), their ABCs, color and animal recognition, and counting.
It might seem a lot right now, and you might feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to teach your toddler all of this. But let me tell you how easy it can be for your toddler to learn all of this while playing with you.
It’s interesting for you and your toddler! Teaching your toddler things at this age doesn’t mean sitting them down and making them concentrate.
It’s an age where their concentration level is almost nothing. So, you’ve to include teaching these things via playing with them and spending quality time with them.
How much time should I teach my toddler?
When teaching your toddler, you can’t expect to take one hour out of your schedule and teach them. Frankly, your toddler won’t be able to sit down for that long! Neither will they be able to learn things this boring way!
You’ve to make teaching your toddler fun in different ways! You can spread out learning in different chores that wouldn’t pressure your toddler and make them learn things without them knowing.
At this age, your toddler is learning fast, and their vocabulary improves a lot in the first 6 months of them turning 2 years old.
Their hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity are improving. Now, they can better hold their toys and start exploring, listening, and differentiating.
Different ways to teach your toddler each day
There are plenty of fun ways to choose and mix-match to make your toddler learn all the basic things like their ABCs and counting. You don’t even know how much potential your toddler possesses right now.
You can indulge them in learning about colors, the weather, animals, seasons. Exciting them into learning things by combining it with physical activity such as games is much more fun and healthy.
The number games
Of course, you can get your toddler number books and blocks with numbers written on them. But are you involved in teaching them numbers? If you want to get involved in teaching them counting, then include it in your routine activities.
If you’re closing buttons of their shirt, you can make them count it with you. Or, if you’re picking up their toys from the floor in a basket, you can count them together.
If you’re grocery shopping, you can count the apples purchased. Count with your fingers, so it’s easier for them to learn this way.
Learning about animals
While books are a way to learn about animals, there’s another way to pique your toddler’s interest. You can arrange a date to the nearest farm, petting zoo, or national park on your off day.
It’s a great way to show different animals to your toddler. At the petting zoo or your local farm, they even interact with animals by feeding them.
Teaching colors can be real fun with your toddlers. You can indulge your toddler in activities which you can do with them, like fingerpainting—making different handprints or making a painting with colored fingers.
Daily you can include it in a way like “bring me the yellow basket” or “throw this in the blue bin.” Learning things in this conversational way is interesting. Your toddler won’t even know they’re learning things daily.
For toddlers, one fantastic thing is how fast they learn something from around them.
Reading words from books can become a bit boring once your toddler has memorized the words written in them. When you know you can’t keep purchasing similar books, it’s better to utilize things around you.
You can start by reading labels written on different bottles around you. One parent sitting in the passenger seat can read the billboards while driving somewhere. Also, play the I spy with my little eye game for colors while driving.
Learning shapes from food
Learning different shapes is more fun when your child can see a 3D version of a particular shape.
When making something in the kitchen, you can ask them how many circular objects they see. Or, for fun, you can even cut their food in different shapes like triangular sandwiches.
You can point out shapes to your toddlers like a circular window, a rectangular mirror, and a triangular nacho chip when going out.
Reading to your toddler
This one thing is universally known to all parents that reading to your child from an early age makes them better at the languages. It helps them in their school readings later on and improves their literacy skills from an early age.
Not just stories, you can even read the poems. Indulge your toddler by asking them to read a few lines of their choice or find a particular character in the book.
You can do voiceovers for different characters and ask them questions at the end of the chapter.
The great thing about reading is that you can make it a part of the nighttime routine. It’s a great way to learn about world views and different places and sections of society. Plus, the quality time spent strengthens your bond with your toddler and takes it to the next level.
Teaching your home-schooled toddler
Home-schooling is a personal choice for parents who don’t wish to send their kids to public or private school. Although, in the past two years, all school-aged children have been temporarily being home-schooling as well.
Due to this reason, it’s been more difficult for parents to differentiate their kid’s learning time from entertainment time. In addition, a more focus on digital devices results in a changed perspective of kids and playing with their mental health being.
Parents wonder what would be the right amount of time spent educating their child apart from school hours.
Preschool-aged children falling under the age of 1-3 can at most spend 5 minutes concentrating on learning things. It depends significantly on the level of comprehension of the toddler.
Try to make a clear distinction between their learning and creative activities. Spending a lot of time on digital devices due to home-school can significantly affect their mental health.
What should toddlers learn?
There are several skills that toddlers need to learn and work on regularly:
– Language skills
– Motor skills
– Social skills
– Early learning skills
– Imagination skills
– Self-regulating skills
What should a toddler learn first?
At this age, it’s important to teach toddlers critical skills focussing on overall learning. There’s no specific learning required, but you can start counting, alphabets, colors, and weather.
Getting their basics right from the beginning makes them prepared for their school day at preschool or kindergarten.
What should a 2-year-old know academically?
Down below are several things mentioned which your toddler will be learning in a normal school day in the beginning:
– Differentiating shapes and colors
– Completing rhymes and sentences from familiar books
– Playing simple games
– Finding and locating things
Teaching your toddler can be fun when you do it throughout the day in various activities. However, your toddler’s attention span is small right now. You can’t expect your toddler to sit down for even half an hour and learn something. It’s better to divide the learning in the form of games each day.
For working parents, there’s nothing better than to teach your toddler while doing chores!
It’s a gradual way of learning which will also bring you closer to your toddler. Reading stories to your toddler at this time is crucial for their vocabulary and their future understanding at school. So it’s definitely something that should be a part of your routine.