To develop the key skills essential within all future areas of learning, including reading and writing, your toddler needs time to develop. Physically, socially and emotionally.
They also need opportunities to develop their communication skills as they learn to establish relationships and make friends. And to learn what it means to be them – inside a body they are only just getting to know.
All of which is developing their attitudes towards their future learning, and their self-belief within it
To nurture processes of learning with your toddler, you need to understand what is going on as they learn. When your child learns something new, their brain uses familiar patterns to predict and anticipate what might happen next. These patterns and ideas are heavily informed by all the previous experiences that your child has had. So, the more experiences they have had, the better at learning they will become.
Nurture your toddlers learning by offering them rich, diverse experiences
When these experiences are repeated, they are approached with maturing abilities as you child instinctively learns to perfect their skills and consolidate their understanding. But they need opportunities to do so.
So, offer them real materials that they can explore simple concepts through. With the time and the freedom required to explore, unhindered by expectations, questions or corrections. And avoid moving on to more complex tasks until they have mastered their current interest or show that they are becoming bored. No matter what your friend’s child might be doing.
Then, gradually increase the complexity of an activity, at the pace of your child
As they learn, your child is making highly personal connections between what they known, or think they know and the new information that is being gained. To do this, they may need to keep going over the same idea, exploring it in different ways or testing the way they think something works.
If you second guess what they need or where their next connection is going to be made, this can result in deeply unfulfilling and frustrating times. You will know when this happens as they simply move away, or eventually become frustrated with you.
Allow your child to explore and utilise items in their own way, combining, leaving and returning to them freely
Within an environment that you have made accessible and secure, allow them to feel a sense of personal ownership. Let them become drawn to what interests them, with the time and space to explore. And allow them to freely adapt their resources as they explore what they can do. A paintbrush can be used for more than painting with.
When children are given opportunities to pursue their own ideas, they not only learn how to take care of themselves, but they also appear to have a stronger sense of community and ability to collaborate effectively in groups.
This personal ownership has been shown to significantly improve their motivation towards learning and the benefits they drive from it. But this self-organisation can be hugely different to the early experiences of the classroom to come, so make sure you give them this now while you can.
This article is taken from our course: The Learning Child
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL