Toddler Early Learning

Children need lots of experiences before kindergarten if they are to grow and develop into strong students. Be sure to give them plenty of time to play with simple tools like crayons, measuring cups and puzzles in a supervised setting.  Encourage them to explore and develop their reading, writing, social and thinking skills.

CRAYONS & MARKERS

Toddlers need lots of different types of tools for writing so they can see what they do, how they feel, and what will happen when they use them. Encourage your child to use pencils, pens, markers and crayons.

  • Save several pages that your child has "written." Put a date on them. Staple them together to make a book.
  • Vary the marks you make on the paper including lines and circles. See if your child will imitate.
  • Label the color of crayons or markers your child is using. Encourage him to repeat.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

Toddlers like to do things over and over again as long as you stay involved with them. They love to make banging noises and enjoy making music using big movements like jumping or pounding. You can make musical instruments out of many household objects like wooden spoons, plastic bottles and oatmeal boxes.

  • Sing songs that say your toddler's name. Feel free to make the songs up as you go. Songs with words or phrases that repeat and have predictable endings work well.
  • Use instruments to make the music.
  • Encourage turn-taking and "new" movements - jumping, walking, tiptoeing and dancing.

WATER PLAY

Water can provide hours of fun for children - whether in the bathtub, the kitchen sink, a dishpan, or a wading pool. Water provides lots of opportunity for children to use their muscles, their reasoning skills and new words. Provide unbreakable items that can be used to pour or measure and ones that will sink or float. Plastic cups, funnels, basters, bottles and eye droppers are good choices in addition to bath toys. Be sure to supervise closely!

  • Ask your child to choose an item and guess if it will sink or float. Talk about what happens.
  • Use words full and empty when pouring into containers.
  • Give your child some different sponges and show how to squeeze the water out.

STACKING

Toddlers get very excited when they realize they are the ones who can make something happen! Stack some toys and encourage the child to knock them over. See if she can be the stacker, too! Stacking blocks or measuring cups helps your child learn about many concepts: small and large, balance, high and low.

  • Encourage your child to use her own name in conversations with you.
  • As you stack the cups, see if she can count "one, two, three."
  • Encourage your child to use small motor skills by stacking objects as high as she can.

TRIP TO THE LIBRARY

Studies have confirmed with certainty that early reading opportunities make way for higher literacy development later on. By "reading" pictures in a book, your child prepares himself for reading books as he gets older. Sit side-by-side and look at pictures in the books; describe them in detail. Help your child find what changes from one page to another or what stays the same on every page.

  • Let your child make a choice between a couple of books. Hold him while you read the books he's chosen.
  • Toddlers are interested in books that show children doing things they do, books that show feelings and families.
  • Encourage your child's fine motor development by having him turn the pages.