Young children learn through play. Rote memorization, worksheets, flashcards, these things have their place in building your child’s cognitive skills, but if you want to help your child learn, it starts with good old fashioned fun and curiosity. Mix in a little routine, organization, and a few hands-on materials, and you have a formula for toddler school at home.

Whether you chose to implement a curriculum by introducing certain letter, shapes, or weekly/monthly concepts and themes OR you prefer to just wing it, here are some great activities that you can do to help your child learn.

Reading:

  1. Plan a weekly trip to the library. Pick books around a theme (transportation, friendship, etc) OR let your child pick books that he/she loves. Attend a story time.
  2. Encourage your child to read to you a book that he/she has read several times.
  3. To develop comprehension, discuss characters, sequence events, ask them to guess what’s coming next (make predictions) or guess why something has happened (make inferences).
  4. Read every day, all the time.

Writing/Fine Motor Skills:

  1. Practice letters and sounds using sensory materials like: shaving cream, playdough, paint, chalk, yogurt, soap, dry erase boards, etc.
  2. Trace over letters.
  3. Draw, color, and paint with fingers, crayons, pencils, markers, etc.
  4. Lace with beads or try punching holes in cardboard and lacing strings through the  holes.

Science:

  1. Play in nature. My son loves to play outside. We have kept caterpillars to learn about metamorphosis, planted seeds in our vegetable garden, watched the weather, and hiked to find every insect, rock, or plant imaginable. What can I say, the kid loves to pick up bugs.
  2. Do science experiments. The internet is filled with them. Start here. Science experiments are tons of fun!
  3. Cook and bake with your children. This is also great to help build math skills.
  4. Build structures with blocks, legos, marshmallows and toothpicks or anything else you can find. Use trains and cars to talk about motion and mechanics. You never know, you might have a budding engineer.
Beautiful Easter Swallowtail Butterfly

Beautiful Easter Swallowtail Butterfly

Checking on our caterpillars.

Checking on our caterpillars

Making pizza

Making pizza

Math:

  1. Discuss shapes, numbers, quantities and organize/sort objects by their properties
  2. Tell stories to your children using numbers (rudimentary word problems). For example, “Mommy bought 3 bananas and then she bought 1 more. Look! Mommy has 4 bananas.”
  3. Use money and coins. Implementing an allowance can help them with money and be very empowering for children.

Social Studies:

  1. Plan a play date and talk about how we spend time with friends
  2. To earn a weekly allowance, here’s a great list of “jobs” that children can perform by age.
  3. Choose a weekly theme and plan activities to follow this theme (ie. Community helpers and visit the local fire station). FIELD TRIP!
  4. Celebrate and talk about holidays, traditions, and different cultures.
  5. Attend international festivals.
Field Trip to our local Fire Station 39.

Field Trip to our local Fire Station #39

Extras:

Sing, dance, play instruments, dress up, use your imagination, do art just for the fun of it using stamps, glue, scissors, tape, glitter, tissue paper anything! PLAY and watch your child’s mind grow.

Painting!

Painting!

Where to start:

Buy materials – In addition to the materials I listed above (like shaving cream, paint, paper, etc), there are so many things that toddlers love to use to learn that are free or really cheap. Try this site for 100 things you can purchase from the Dollar Tree and Use in Play because it lists a ton of things you can purchase for just a buck. If you don’t have time to DIY, check out the toy store or local teacher supply store.

Organize your materialsToddler Busy Bags are a great way to organize materials or activities. I haven’t done this yet but I plan to give it a try.

Have a weekly plan and monthly curriculumToddler School is a great resource for a simple curriculum that you can follow if you like routine.

***Learning will come from curiosity and fun so don’t forget to listen to your child and let your own inner child let loose.***