This topic is absolutely near and dear to my heart. When I first started planing to have children, I don’t think I realized how early they would start learning from us. I got a crash course when I realized I even had to teach my 4 month old how to sleep! From then on, everything they do seems to involve a lesson. As my toddler began to grow I really started to put some effort making sure that my free toddler learning activities were effective, fun and easy.
There is nothing like walking into the room where your 2.5 year old is playing and witnessing him eagerly turning the pages of his
alphabet fruit book. But not only is he turning the pages, he is singing the alphabet on each page with full splendor and is pointing out the names of the fruit. Score one for toddler learning activities that allow mommy time to sit down! When he’s done, he switches gears and starts naming the planets in the solar system with happiness and excitement!
At that point I started thinking to myself, how did we get here!?!? In a short two and a half years, I went from holding my newborn baby in the hospital to watching my son sight read, sing his alphabet in Spanish and backwards, count to 100, and start to sound out words! Yes, I’m talking about reading. I can’t imagine what my daughter will be doing when she is this age.
Don’t get me wrong, my son lives for jumping, playing, screaming, exploring, getting dirty, yelling, and running around frantically just like most happy toddlers, but he has also developed a ferocious love of learning that often just leaves me in awe. The amount of information that a toddler can take in is absolutely amazing. They are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them. I can’t help but to think this will be beneficial to him as he matures through the years.
While showing a child love, helping them grow emotionally, allowing them to explore, and making sure they are healthy is at the top of my list of “to-do’s”, I truly believe that every child has the capability to learn much more than we think.
Below, I suggest simple ways to encourage inquisitiveness, eagerness, and a passion for learning starting at an early age! Incorporating some of these tips into toddler learning activities can truly make an exciting difference for years to come.
Toddler Learning Activities:Inspiration
1.Don’t be Afraid To Sing
At any given time in my home, you will most likely hear one of four people singing something productive or silly. Yes, that includes, me, the hubby, my toddler, and even the baby. (Well I like to think she is singing). Putting concepts to a tune is such a great way to learn and retain information. For example, have you ever had a hard time remembering terms for a test, but can sing the full three verses of your favorite song? Yup that’s the power of music. I have seen it work wonders for my son and a plus is that he now loves to sing in general. I think singing in the home adds a happiness to the household that can’t
be matched so this one is definitely my number one tip. So get to singing parents and caregivers, even if its not exactly your talent! Let’s learn all of the nursery rhymes you thought you forgot .
2. Repetition is the Key To Toddler Learning
3. Keep Routines a Priority
Have you ever noticed how toddlers and children in general love to repeat things over and over again? I am of the opinion that there is a reason behind this madness! This tip is similar to tip number two but a little more specific. One of the best tidbits I was able to absorb from reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block was that toddlers who have a regular routine often feel smarter, more secure, and are generally in better moods from day to day. Toddlers are not as capable of handling emotions and rarely have control over what’s going on around them, so being able to anticipate and predict parts of their day is key. I truly believe that having a routine has helped my son to further excel because it provides him with confidence. He knows when and how he will nap, eat, go to bed, and when he will be doing certain activities, similar to daycare facility’s schedule for the moms that are working. Of course the routine has to be amended and flexible pretty often, but the benefits of sticking to it more often than not create an amazing environment for learning.
4. Target any TV and Video Time
Now some parents like to eliminate videos and television all together. I am of the opinion that some targeted TV and video is just fine. In fact, once they are toddlers, they can actually learn a great deal. In my household, YouTube is mostly limited to alphabets, reading, numbers, shapes, colors, planets, and anything that promotes learning. My son has honestly learned a great deal this way. Even many of the cartoons on the major channels that are geared towards toddlers have learning aspects to them. I am not suggesting sitting your child in front of the television all day, but if you are mindful of what’s being watched, there is some benefit! I suggest about an hour a day for IPad and TV while they are this young, no more than two. Clean up song videos are a great way for your toddler to learn the valuable lesson of cleaning up behind themselves! Make sure to visit my preschool clean up song article for the absolute best videos. It is so easy to have the television playing in the background, trust me I have been there. But after making a conscious decision to put more effort into limiting TV, advice again received from The Happiest Toddler on the Block, I can honestly say I saw a huge difference in his attentiveness.
Speaking of being mindful, here is one of my son’s favorite Alphabet videos that really created some excitement!
5. Toddler Learning Activities: Reinforce What is Learned
Often times, I will here something that my child in singing from a video or book and carve out some time to make sure I reinforce what he is learning. This can include learning the song yourself so you can sing it with him when you are out of the house, or
creating some life sized learning boards to reiterate concepts in a fun way for example. I talk about how to do this in one of my
previous posts Here. A great example would be the day my son discovered a planets song on YouTube. When I saw that he was interested in the planets, I started talking to him about planets, asking him questions, and singing with him about planets. (There’s that singing again!) Before I knew it, he knew as much about the planets as I had learned in grade school! The most important part was not that he learned it, but that he was enjoying it and super excited about learning more.
6. Be Creative
Don’t be afraid to get your creative juices flowing folks! Learning doesn’t always have to be about letters and numbers. Sensory and emotional development is important too. Or sometimes we can make learning games from their favorite toys. A great example is my car matching activity! The more fun you can make it, the more successful the activity will be 🙂
7. Play Doh
I made an alphabet playdoh post basically explaining how you can use play doh to learn the alphabet! My some absolutely loves it! But the great this is that I can sit at the table with him and he can make all his letters and number and he will ask me to
make all types of shapes and even words! It’s a great learning tool that also provides sensory fun! In my post I also add a recipe on making play doh as well.
8. Don’t Push, Watch for the Cues and Allow Exploration
This tip may be near the end but it is VERY important! The last thing I want to ever do is push a two year old to learn something before he or she is actually ready. I can’t think of one situation where this would actually work out successfully. In my son’s case, he tends to start exploring after he masters something. So I watch for two things: when he masters somethings and what he shows interest in next. I use that information to steer him in the right direction while allowing plenty of time for play that doesn’t involve any “academic” learning.
9. Positive Reinforcement
Self Explanatory. Kids soak this stuff up. Positive reinforcement with some love (and plenty of patience gaahhh!) will make learning that much more fun and easy. When your child learns something new, make a big deal about it! Don’t hold back. Take pictures, film it, whatever you want.
10. Be Silly
LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST! I can’t stress this enough. Toddlers love silliness! Let your hair down and have some fun because a happy toddler is is more likely to be a learning toddler! 🙂 Again, I must mention something I learned from The Happiest Toddler on the Block. (Hmm I think I will have to review this book soon with all these mentions LOL) There is a chapter about “Playing the Boob” that is absolutely amazing and it works! This concept involves giving your toddler a “win” or sort of an “upper hand” in something trivial and often funny. They may want to be stronger, or smarter than you. It truly promotes confidence and cooperation with toddlers and I have personally seen the proof. So don’t take this one lightly, let your toddler have some “wins” sometimes (i.e. let him blow you over because he is so strong) and you will have their attention for learning!
These tips have served my family very well and I am happy to share! Do you have any tips that have really helped with early learning? Please share below in the comment sections.