Raising a smart toddler isn’t about memorization, lessons or schooling. You can teach your child all he needs to know just by learning from life.
Flash cards and workbooks are fun, but they are not necessary if you want your toddler to be bright.
Young children are naturally curious and can learn so easily from your daily activities, neither you nor your child will realize you’re teaching. Here’s how you can expand your child’s world into the best classroom there is.
Surround your child with books from an early age. Collect board books when you’re pregnant or ask relatives to buy your baby or toddler books as gifts to grow his library. Make reading a part of your daily routine, such as before nap time or bedtime, and it’s a habit that he will keep as he grows.
Small children are natural explorers. They are low to the ground and notice things adults are too busy (or too tall) to see. When your little one picks up a random bug, use the opportunity to tell him about it, or consult a book or the internet to find out more yourself. Tell him the names of the flowers in your yard or your local park, and ask him to tell you how the elements of nature feel — such as rocks, sand, blades of grass or tree bark.
Provide appropriate art supplies when your child is small. Large crayons are perfect for the youngest child, and as he grows, he will enjoy experimenting with markers, paint and clay. Even if your child isn’t adept at creating recognizable drawings, encourage his scribbles and talk about the colors he uses. As he grows, you can discuss blending the colors to create new ones and you can model shapes and letters for him to try to imitate.
Talking to your child is such a valuable pastime you can consider it an investment in his future. He will learn the nuances of his native language from you and the other people he is around, and he can only learn that by being talked to. You don’t have to recite encyclopedia entries or Shakespeare plays. What your child yearns for is the interaction and the melody of your voice. Talk to him about your day, what you are doing, what you are seeing and how you are feeling. Even if you don’t expect an answer, pause like you do — soon, that space will be filled in with precious sounds and eventually words.
Learning numbers is a fun activity, but you don’t have to dole out items and ask your child to count them to help him learn. Get into the habit of counting the things around the both of you, such as his socks, your toes, the eggs you’re going to put in his omelet or the grapes on his plate. This simple, gentle task will spur his development and can put him on the fast track to understanding quantity and numbers.
Giving your toddler a case of the smarts isn’t hard. Spending quality, loving time with him will sharpen his mind and teach him more than you thought he’d learn at this age — and your bonding will benefit too. A child needs to know that he is acknowledged and cared for, and these simple activities will really let him know that he is.