When Little Man was little(r), life was all about song and dance and games and laughter. The focus was on developing his sensory and physical abilities, then his speech, emotions, independence. Now that he’s almost three-and-a-half, and has mastered the above essentials, I am focussing on teaching him more educational stuff. Phonics, numbers, shapes and how things work.
But Little Man is not one to sit and recite aa aa apple, b b ball with me. Or count more than he wants to. He would much rather “play cars” or “superheroes” or see TV, when we’re home. So I figured out a few ways to incorporate learning into our day, without him even realising it.
Note: All these can be done while walking to school/ to the park/ taking a stroll around your house.
Since Little Man loves cars, and anything to do with cars, I figured this would be a success. Whilst we walk to school, we count the number of cars we see (either parked or the ones that pass us by – variation is the key to keeping them engaged). To add more variation (and another learning function – colours), try counting just the red cars, or the black cars and so on.
(You could do this with people too – count the people who cross your path. Or those wearing blue or yellow.)
2. Recognising numbers and alphabets
Reciting numbers and alphabets is something Little Man (and most toddlers) grasp early, but recognising them on a page or billboard is the next step. Rather than making an exercise of it at home, when Little Man is distracted by his other toys, I use the time spent walking or in the car to do the same. I make him read number-plates of cars, or the numbers on parking spots or alphabets on signs and boards that we pass.
3. Distinguishing Shapes
Tiled pavements provide an opportunity to distinguish between square tiles and rectangular ones. Streetlights and lamps are usually round. You get the gist. Then we talk about each shape (a square has four equal sides but a rectangle has two short and two long sides).
4. Learning about Nature
Instead of just getting from point A to point B, why not talk about the different aspects of Nature – trees, clouds, insects, dried leaves – there’s no dearth of subject matter. If it’s the clouds your toddler is interested in, explain how rain falls from them. If he sees an insect, ask him which colours are on it. Explain why leaves are green, but in Autumn turn yellow/ brown. He will learn why and how things happen much quicker when experiencing it than by simply reading about it.
I’m also focussing on teaching him basic opposites. To add that element of fun, we make a game out of it… we jump up HIGH, then bend down LOW. We spread our arms wide to show we’re FAT, then bring them in ‘coz now we’re THIN. We stretch TALL, then become SHORT… Little Man loves enacting the opposites and believe me, it is fun!!!
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