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As babies transition to toddler stage; they begin to be naturally curious about everything around them. This is the time, when parents can actually enhance toddlers’ concept of learning by helping them to adopt various learning approaches such as, problem-solving and imagination, among a few others.
Toddlers between 1-2 years of age have an inherent characteristic to be curious about everything and hence, this stage is considered suitable to mould their attitude towards learning. The sooner the toddlers develop an inclination towards learning, easier it is for them to transition to school. Some toddlers can naturally develop learning skills through watching, playing, listening or talking while others may require a structured environment for the same. Here are some approaches to learning to help your toddler learn:
1. Curiosity and Keenness
As the toddlers begin to explore the world around them, they become more curious and are eager to learn even more. Toddlers clapping their hands, pointing to a toy, trying to read a book, asking ‘what’ or smiling at someone are signs that they are willing to get more information about a particular activity, person or object of their interest. At such times, parents can stimulate the toddlers by proving sensory experiences such as, giving them colourful toys to play with, asking them open- ended questions or showing them picture books.
2. Imagination and Invention
Toddlers have a wild imagination that nurtures their creativity and brings out the inventor in them. They may often find innovative uses of an object; they may use a spoon as a drum stick or turn a plastic bottle into a rattle. You may offer them crayons to colour a picture, but they may end up doodling on walls. To give wings to toddlers’ learning through a flight of fancy, let them explore freely with different objects and materials, and introduce them to different sensory experiences through touch and feel. You can even involve them in pretend plays using music, dance or drama, or ask them thinking-questions such as, ‘where does the sun go in the evening?
3. Initiative and Confidence
Helping toddlers to initiate an activity can build their confidence in taking risks or trying something new. Children are likely to explore more when they are outdoors or move around in social circles. Simple non-verbal gestures like self- feeding and undressing on own or voicing choices over snacks are little achievements that toddlers take pride in. To translate these achievements into the concept of learning, parents can increase children’s social interaction time, praise their good behaviour, take them to the garden to play or involve them in exploratory talks.
4. Attention and Persistence
Young toddlers usually love to repeat activities that they enjoy or have mastered. For instance, they may want to play with the building blocks over and again, jump up and down from the couch or listen to the same story every night before bedtime. Through these actions, toddlers learn to focus for a longer duration or make persistent efforts to finish the task at hand. How parents can support toddlers is not to rush them from their engaging experience and in fact, persuade them to repeat the activities.
5. Logical Thinking and Problem-Solving
Toddlers find their own means to get things done, resolve their problems or communicate their needs. They may open a closet and point out a dress, find a broomstick to fetch the ball from under the table or innovate a gesture to ask for help. All these actions fuel the logical thinking of toddlers and encourage them to come up with strategies to reach their goals. Hence, to help your toddler learn problem-solving skills, let them take risks and do things their way, until you think intervention is necessary.
Toddlers may face challenges in the above approaches to learning, but with parental encouragement and well–structured environment, developing learning skills would be easier for them.