Integrating Learning into Playtime
By Randi Morse
Being a parent of young children can be stressful, and one of the last things most parents want to think about is becoming a teacher to their young children. The truth is that you can start teaching your children things from a very young age without even really trying. Toddlers have an amazing capacity for learning. Their brains are like sponges, soaking in all the knowledge and information around them. There are several ways that you can teach your children without it having to feel like you are educating them.
One of the best ways that young children learn is through play. In play, their minds and imaginations are active, and it is the ideal time to teach them things. For example, if you are playing with little figurines and cars, you can teach your children the sound that cars make, what wheels are, and that if you push something it moves forward. These may seem like extremely simple things, but to a toddler they are brand new and exciting to learn about.
Understanding the concept of time is extremely difficult for children. When my daughter was little and would take a nap, she would wake up assuming it was the next day. One great way to teach your children about time is to get an analog wall clock that has a removable face to it. On the face of the clock, color in different times of day. For example, you can color in a block of time that is lunch, a block of time that is dinner, and the block of time where the child goes to bed. Use different colors for each time block and every day use the clock to help your child understand what time it is.
Colors, Numbers and Shapes
Teaching your children about colors and numbers is easily integrated into play time. There are tons of toddler toys that focus specifically on teaching children colors, numbers, and shapes, but you can teach these concepts even without toys. Have your child help you bake a recipe, and then count the eggs out loud with them. When you are going to the grocery store, point out the different colors that surround you. If you are bilingual, a grocery store trip is also a fantastic time to showcase the two different languages to your child.
Teaching children doesn't have to feel like a chore. You do it every day when you show children how to do simple things, like climb up and down stairs and brush their teeth. Integrate information into their play time and into your routine and errands and watch how quickly your little one learns!
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