The following is a guest post written by Amanda Stockdale who blogs at Learningthroughexpeirences.com
I remember when my oldest turned 18 months. The teacher in me was anxious to start teaching colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.And it didn’t help when I went into mommy Facebook groups to see other 18 month olds already identifying these things. So I set off to plan our first week of learning activities, which we called Tot School.
I figured most toddlers liked farm animals, so I would start there. I spent 2 weeks searching Pinterest for the most perfect farm activities.The day finally came when I was ready to start teaching my toddler.
We walked downstairs to our learning area and…
Sicily had no interest in the activities I just spent 2 weeks preparing for her. How was she going to learn now?
I left everything sit out on the shelf for the rest of the week. The only thing she touched was a few color swatches I quickly cut out of construction paper.
She actually ended up creating her own game with the color swatches (you can see it here). And much to my surprise she learned all her colors within a week by just playing the game she made up.
That’s when I realized that a toddler doesn’t need fancy toys or activities to learn.
It happens naturally when you have those things already in their environment.
If you want to teach your toddler there are 4 things you need to do…
Create an Encouraging Environment
The first step is to create an encouraging environment. For a toddler, it’s as simple as placing interesting materials on their shelves.
Take my experience above. All it took to motivate Sicily to learn her colors were a couple of construction paper splashes that took me less than 5 minutes to cut out.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on learning resources. Your toddler would rather play with things they see you use on a daily basis.
Develop a Relaxed Routine
Once you have an organized environment with things to explore, the next step is to create a relaxing routine.
Spend a week observing your toddler throughout the day. Write down their tired times, active times, and focused times.
Create your routine around their natural daily rhythm. The tired times become meals and naps. The active times are for outings and outside play. The focused times is when you should be in your learning environment so they can explore in their own way.
The majority of your day should be free play.
Plan SIMPLE Child Led Activities
I emphasize simple and child led in this one. Just like the color swatches, you don’t need to spend hours preparing activities, especially since your toddler may only spend 5 minutes on it.
Focus on the process and enjoy the learning experience instead of the concept and exactly what your toddler is learning.
It’s also important to remember that toddlers are still young. The world is still new to them, so give them time to explore and do the activity in their own way. They may not do it “right,” and they may not be learning what you had intended them to learn…
But they are still learning something. Everything a toddler does is a learning experience.
Trust the Natural Learning Process
And that’s where this last step comes into play. Trust the learning that is happening. It’s okay if it’s not what you planned.
Learning is learning…
Who cares what it is that’s being learned in that moment.
Want hands on, child led activities for your toddler? Click the image below to grab our All About Me Toddler Theme.
About the Author: Amanda Stockdale is on a mission to help families fall in love with their homeschool. She uses her 4 essentials to child-led learning framework to help homeschooling moms raise passionate learners while still finding some YOU time every single day. She is the creator of The Toddler Experience Curriculum and her signature course Raising Passionate Learners.