At this age children are so willing and excited to learn new things every day. However, not every lesson needs to be taught in a structured or pre-planned way. Almost any conversation, activity, or interaction with your child can be an opportunity to teach them something new, so I’ve included some tips to make the most of any moment.
- Explain anything and everything you can! Whether you’re cooking, doing yard work, cleaning up, or getting some work done, your child is likely very curious about what exactly is happening. By narrating what you’re doing out loud to them, they’ll be able to pick up new ideas just by spending time with you, and it’ll give you something new to talk about. It may feel silly, but kids love to hear people talk about what they’re doing, even the mundane things!
- Do your best to answer the “Why?” While this may be a question you hear several times a day, your child just wants some insight into how the world around them works and why things happen the way they do. Answer as many why’s as you can, but it is also ok to tell them “I don’t know” when you run out of ways to explain what they are asking about.
- Ask them some questions! You don’t always need to have all the answers, and asking questions gives your child the opportunity to observe their surroundings and think critically about their actions. Try to ask open ended questions when possible rather than ones they can answer with yes or no. Some examples would be “What do you see right now?” “Why did you do that?” “What do you think will happen?” or “Who else does this?”
- Mistakes are ok! If you’re working on counting to a new number and your child skips 7 even though you know they know it, that’s ok! Let them get through it and they may notice it on their own, and even if they don’t it’s not always necessary to point it out. If it’s something you want to really make sure they remember, you can always model it for them after rather than interrupt to have them fix it.
- Look for recurring themes in your conversations! If you notice your child asking a lot about animals, then try to bring them up whenever you notice one that may interest them, whether it’s a lizard outside or a tiger in a book. Or if they are very interested in a certain show or song, you can relate it to whatever you are talking about to help it stick out in their mind. For example, if your child loves Daniel Tiger and you’re learning about animals, when you see a tiger in a book you could say “Look it’s a tiger just like Daniel Tiger!” In the burrow we love to talk about things we have in common with others so they are great at picking up on these connections.
- Whenever you have the time (or the patience) try to give your child the opportunity to choose. Whether it’s picking out their clothes in the morning, choosing paint colors for a project, or deciding on an afternoon snack, making decisions is a great way for your child to build confidence and make connections between actions and consequences. Plus, you may get some fun combinations you wouldn’t have thought of on your own!
Whether you’re at home more these days or continuing to go to work, these tips can be used as much or as little as you would like. While not every single conversation will lead to an epiphany, it can be very rewarding to watch your children absorb and remember something brand new, and learning it alongside you will make it all the more fun for them!
Keep on doing what you’re doing, we appreciate you!!