Does it ever seem to you that you wake up one morning and all of a sudden, your child has grown leaps and bounds? Either they have grown what seems like 3 inches overnight, or somehow just started talking in 3 or 4 word sentences? Whatever the “miracle”, it’s enough to make you stop and say “Whoa!”
As you may have observed, around age 2, your child’s ability to learn and excitement about the world around them just blossoms. Most toddlers begin learning the meanings of about 8 new words a day beginning around 24 months. By age 3, their brains have developed around 1,000 trillion synapses (about twice as many as YOU have!). Between the ages of 3 and 5, your toddler’s vocabulary has the capacity to expand from 900 to 3000 words, or even more! Wowie wow wow! Yes, your child is truly amazing right now and has the world at his fingertips. Take advantage of it and provide opportunities for your little one to continue amazing you! How?
Simple as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.
Nursery Rhymes Nursery Rhymes are a great way of exposing your child to rhyming words and syllables. Why is rhyming important? It helps children identify smaller words and word families within words … an example might be “out and spout” in the song “Eensy Weensy Spider”. When they learn to read/say/write “out”, it makes learning to read/write “spout” SO much easier due to the fact that they already know more than half of the word! The important part of that process is recognizing the end rhyme in both words.
Letter Knowledge A great way for children to begin learning the alphabet is to teach them the letters of their name! Begin by introducing only the capital letter forms and stick with just naming the letters for now. Before long they’ll be ready to learn the sounds associated with them. Post the letters in their name everywhere! Bathrooms, cabinets, refridgerator, be creative! Further develop letter knowledge by singing the alphabet song, reading alphabet books and PLAYING games associated with the alphabet and beginning sounds.
Print Awareness Help your toddler understand that reading is important! Everywhere you go … in the check out line at the grocery store, at a restaurant, in the car … everywhere you go, READ! Point to the words as you read them, so they see them and understand them and can begin to internalize the fact that words are everywhere and reading is important!
Comprehension It’s essential that your toddler understands the stories being read to them. That is the biggest problem with programs that promise to teach your child how to read. Decoding words isn’t reading, but merely one part of it. As you read, connect pictures to words, ask questions about things that happen as you read, review beginning, middle and ending events! Kinesthetic learners really benefit from having hands-on characters in their hands – either stuffed animals, paper dolls or felt board pieces to work with as you read.
PLAY! Play games with your little one … laughing together is always wonderful for bonding between mom and babe … and you can always include a learning opportunity with every game. Play games like “Simon Says” to develop listening skills. Develop a strong dress-up wardrobe from yard sales, thrift stores, or clearance costumes after Halloween! Dig into those delightful outfits with your toddler and create a wonderful memory over a tea party or a sheriff show-down!
During this time in your child’s life, the most important gift you can give him is your time. It’s been said that YOU are your child’s favorite toy! What can be a better combination than his favorite “toy” and his favorite book? Take advantage of every opportunity you have with your child … what might seem to be a frivolous nursery rhyme or ridiculous song is actually bringing your child more than you might ever know!