One of the common dilemmas that parents face today, is about the right age to start teaching toddlers, beginning with basic concepts, such as shapes, colors, numbers etc. "Is it too soon, or should I let her keep going as long as she is interested and is having fun?"
The answer to this dilemma is that if your little one is interested, happy and having fun while learning, then it is definitely the right age.
Young children are interested in the world around them and building on that interest means - not pushing your child. One of the most important things we can do as parents, is to offer an environment, rich with learning opportunities. If you give your child ample opportunities to explore their world, they are bound to get curious and will be interested in learning more.
Toddlers grow and learn everyday. By the age of two, they have learned several important lessons about their world. The everyday activities you perform with your children have academic implications too. The books that you read to your children and the songs you sing, have a lasting impact on their education. While having fun at home, if you can start teaching, it is a win-win situation for the parent and for the child.
Three things to remember:
~ Keep it fun. Make learning a game and your child will always enjoy what you have to teach her.
~ Keep it light. Educational products and activities that are designed in form of games, are not only wonderful, but also make learning interesting for the little ones. For example, children are likely to learn faster, if you have an alphabet hunt at the supermarket.
~ Embrace the teachable moments. A teachable moment is an opportunity to teach that occurs in normal, everyday life. Do not schedule lessons and force educational activities on your child. When the opportunity presents itself (and it will countless times in a day), take advantage and use it for a lesson. For example, simply putting on socks can be a lesson in right and left, colors, or counting!
The time when you and your child are in the car, for example, can be wonderful teaching opportunity that many parents overlook. If you are united after a day's separation, you can share stories about your day and in this process, work on vocabulary and literacy skills as well as teach your child about the world around them. You can use cars and trucks to teach colors, road signs to teach shapes, vehicles and so on.
Mealtimes can be wonderful teaching opportunities too. Counting can be easily taught by asking her whether she wants to have two bananas or one apple. Shapes and colors can also be taught by asking questions as "would you have square sandwich or a round burger". As a child grows older, you can teach alphabets, as "M for milk".
Next week, we shall continue to discuss various concepts and ideas in a toddler world, and the various ways to teach them the same.