Recent years have brought an increased emphasis on teaching school content at a younger and younger age. While this is not the primary work of little ones, there are great developmentally appropriate ways to introduce letters, sounds, and numbers to toddlers. The really young learn most readily through pictures, stories, music, games, and a whole lot of hands-on play.
Toddlers learn best in a natural environment that allows him or her to absorb information without even realizing they are learning. Specific elements that work well when teaching toddlers are:
If you want your little tot to learn a specific procedure, put it to music. For example singing “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands. This is the way we wash our hands so early in the morning.” This melody works great for replacing “wash our hands” with what ever you are currently teaching. Encourage the child to mimic what you are doing while singing the song, this way you are modeling the correct way to do a particular job, and your child will be practicing his or her skills as you sing.
We’ve all heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words and this holds true when teaching your little ones. Pictures and images make use of visual memory where the picture and all its details are stored intact. Memorable images often can be recalled later in life in minute detail, carrying with them any learning concepts that were embedded in them. For even more learning, a visual with a song or story can double the effectiveness of your teaching.
Children are born storytellers, and think of their lives in terms of story. The story line or plot is the glue that holds all the elements of the story together. If you want your toddler to remember a sequence of events or steps in a procedure, make up a story that links all the pieces together.Combining a story line with images can make for an even more powerful learning experience.
Tots learn about the world through their senses—sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. They pick up cues about natural characteristics of objects in their world; they learn about things that are soft or hard, heavy or light, smooth or rough, hot or cold, and sweet or sour. They take in so much that becomes basis for more learning later in life. The more full-bodied the sensory background, the wider the store of previous knowledge and comprehension the child will bring to school.
Now that you know some of the elements that help little tots connect with learning, what learning tools will help this specific age group use these elements?
- Our stylized alphabet is the easiest way for children to connect letter symbols with the sounds of the letters.
- Alphabet Tales is filled with colorful illustrations, exciting and easy to understand language.
- Our SnapWords® Numbers and Colors Teaching Cards and SnapWords® Nouns 1 Teaching Cards are perfect ways to introduce young children to basic sight words.
- In I Can Sing from 1 to 10 you and your tot can sing your way through the first 10 digits to the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep.