Toddlers have an amazing challenge ahead of them. Everything they see, taste, hear, smell, and feel is a completely new experience. The world is one gigantic classroom for the toddler. These early years of learning are highly formative and the quality and style of early learning typically have a large impact on the eagerness and ability of the toddler to learn new things later in life.
Often, the process of learning new things can be very frustrating and overwhelming for the toddler, so it is very important for the parent to exercise both patience and slow but steady persistence. Most importantly, it is critical that learning is fun for the toddler. By making learning into a fun activity, parents make it more likely that their child will be eager to learn. Engraining this positive mentality toward learning into a toddler’s mind will help ensure a happy and healthy future filled with fun learning.
Learning is most fun when it is a game. When you are teaching your toddler the alphabet or how to count, be as positive and happy as possible. Try rewarding your child with a sticker every time they get a correct answer. Whenever they are incorrect or can’t find an answer, gently suggest a hint toward the correct answer. Remember to always smile and be positive and encouraging. Once your toddler can walk, it is a great idea to take them on short walks around the neighborhood (or even if they are still in the stroller). Point to unique objects, and say the name of the color. Encourage your child to say the color as well. When teaching your toddler how to say his/her own name, try to make a fun song out of it. By singing happy songs to your child, you are not only making the process of learning more fun, but you are also tuning into multiple senses (hearing and vision). This also gives the toddler some preliminary music education! In fact, it is a good idea to obtain some recordings of educational children’s music. This can often be played in the background, and the music, lyrics, and lessons will eventually seep into your child’s subconscious mind.
Avoid situations in learning that cause unnecessary frustration for your toddler. If your child is having a very difficult time learning a certain color, number, or letter, just drop the topic for a day or so. Don’t force anything, as this could cause the learning experience to become annoying and make it more difficult to teach your toddler in the future. Try to set up a routine, such as always having learning time just before a nap, and at the same time each day. By combining learning with playtime, you can make it even more fun. Also, since learning can be tiring, by placing learning time just before naptime or bedtime, you will help make sure the toddler is tired enough to fall asleep.
Remember that your child has 5 senses. Try to appeal to all 5 senses when teaching your toddler. Show your child what an onion smells like, what a dog sounds like, what tickling feels like, what chocolate tastes like, and what the color red looks like. By teaching with all 5 senses, you help your child integrate ideas more fully. Most importantly, make sure learning is fun for your toddler.