Forget the learning apps and specialized toys. Kids learn from simple, everyday activities!
As a former child care professional, I strongly believe learning comes naturally for young children. They are learning from the moment they take their first breath in this world. They learn by exploring and interacting with their environment.
Hands-on, “real”, experiences often have a more educational impact than worksheets or memorization. Today I would like to share ten simple, everyday learning activities, which can easily be provided for a toddler.Making learning natural... 10 Real Learning Activities For Toddlers #homeschooling Click To Tweet
I can’t say enough about reading. Children need many opportunities to be read to and need to interact with books on a regular basis. For more about fostering literacy in young children, check out this post HERE.
Children, especially toddlers, love to help out around the house. When my youngest turned two, she seemed ready to help with a variety of tasks such as sweeping the floors, dusting, “folding” clothes, washing the dishes, and putting the dishes away. These tasks provide many chances for learning!
For example, a simple activity such as putting the dishes away is a fabulous opportunity to teach skills such as sorting and classification. I love watching my 2-year-old put the cutlery into the cutlery tray, and I am amazed at how quickly she mastered the skill of sorting the cutlery into their proper places.
Toddlers can cook. I’ve written about the many benefits of cooking with children in this post HERE. The practical skills of following simple instructions, counting, and measuring are just a few of the concepts your toddler learns while engaged in baking activities. A good cookbook is always helpful too. I love the Kids Cook 1-2-3 cookbook because all the recipes are simple and use only three ingredients each. It’s perfect for a toddler!
Gardening is another hands-on, real life activity for toddlers. The cause and effect of planting a seed, watering it, and observing it grow are wonderfully captivating for young children. Make sure to choose easy-to-grow plants (herbs and beans are some of our favourites around here).
Children build important skills when allowed to dress themselves. I often provide my toddler with a variety of items to dress in when we’re not planning to go anywhere/do anything. Pants, shirts, socks, coats, and shoes… I place a pile in front of her and allow her as much time, freedom, and opportunity to explore dressing with these items. A picture schedule can be used to keep confidence high and frustration low!
Not only does dressing provide the opportunity to learn vital self-help skills, but it also provides a platform to expand vocabulary and build fine motor skills.
There are so many benefits to getting outdoors on a regular basis. Walks can fascinate little minds. From billowing clouds to chirping birds to looking in a puddle, toddlers benefit from getting outside and exploring the great outdoors.
When I worked in childcare, I observed one of the most beneficial learning opportunities for toddlers is grocery shopping. A simple list, a basket (or child-sized cart) and the time to make the learning meaningful can have a remarkable impact on a toddler. Tell them which item you’re getting. Describe it to them and see if they can spot it. Encourage them put the item in the cart. Allow them to use a pen to cross the item off of the list. Let them help unload the cart. Encourage them to participate in paying for the groceries (self-checkouts are the best for this). Lastly, when you get home, they can help put the groceries away.
Playing With “Real” Items
Children (especially toddlers) love “real” materials. Let your toddler interact with real bowls, a real (non-operational phone), and a calculator. The exposure to these items stimulates their minds (especially if it has a cause and effect aspect, like when they push the buttons on a calculator they can see the numbers on the screen).
Children learn so much from interacting with others. Community walks, excursions to your local library, and even dinner at a nearby restaurant provides a wealth of opportunities for your child to learn and grow. Their interactions with others and the sights they see help build a foundation for understanding that they are a part of something bigger than just their family and their home.
Speaking with your toddler, much like reading, provides a wonderful learning opportunity. When speaking with a toddler, never correct his/her language. If he/she pronounces something wrong, simply parrot what they’ve said with the correct pronunciation of the word.
Also, if they are saying 2-3 word sentences, try expanding/building upon their sentences. For example, your child says, “The dog!” You can respond by saying, “Look at the dog!”
I hope that these ideas inspire and motivate you to see the rich learning opportunities available to children simply by engaging them in real and meaningful experiences. Do you have anything you would add to the “real” learning activities list?