Being an advocate for learning in toddlers?

Jen - posted on 09/02/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My twins just turned two August 11th. Early on, all the milestones were completed by my daughter first (she rolled over first, she spoke clear words first, she walked first, she crawled and stood first, etc) but once he would get them, it seemed like he sped past her and got better at them than she was with more practice. Last year in September when I started going back to school, I put my children in a very reputable daycare/learning center on my college campus. I wasn't about to pay the price of daycare for twins if they were going to sit in front of Nick Jr. all day and eat hot dogs for lunch every day of the week, so I made sure the center they went to was going to help with development and work with me as a parent. It has. For the summer, I took off from school and so have they. For the last 9 months or so, though, my son has had this extreme interest in books and letters and really enjoys being read to. The one thing that can cure a meltdown is "Owen, do you want to read?" and he will just stop, stand up and say "read?"



Over time, it's been noticed by my husband and I more and more that DS has a much better knack for words and communication than my DD does. She wants something, she wails. Typical two year old, I'm guessing? But my son, for several months, has had this innate ability to learn communication skills and use them properly, it seems. In the morning when I go into the room he says "Morning, mommy!" at every meal he says his please/thank you/you're welcomes in every space they should be... It was always just kind of interesting to me that he seems to be developing vocabulary and communication much faster than my daughter (who I, incidentally named Voisie with the assumption that she'd be as much of a chatter box as the rest of the women in my family!).



So my thing is this: My son loves anything learning related. Even TV, he gets more into things like Super Why than things like Yo Gabba Gabba or Sponge Bob. I am very busy with two 2yo's, but I want to be an advocate and really support this interest even if he is very young. Today he came to me with a letter magnet off the fridge and named the letter. I thought it was a fluke until he grabbed another one and named it. We went to the fridge and started picking through the letters only to discover that my almost 25 month old son could visually identify over half the alphabet, and this is not something we have really worked on much AT ALL. I feel like this is a great time to really help him advance with this while he is interested. Any tips on how to do that? I don't want to be a TV and useless toys kind of mom, and I want to help my kids advance in any way possible.

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Elfrieda - posted on 09/02/2012

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I'm kind of an anti-learning mom, myself. (also anti-tv, but I want him to play and leave the academics for later.) But my son also picked up the alphabet as soon as he turned two. He really likes being challenged in the letters/puzzles/fine motor skills department. It's amazing how much happier he is when he's doing that sort of thing, and to me that's an excellent reason to do it. Here are some ideas that your son might like now or in a couple of months.



Some things in that category that he likes to do (he's now 31 months old) are:

-play with alphabet magnets

- we have this huge interlocking foam mat we got from Canadian Tire when he was learning to sit so that he wouldn't smash his head on our floors, and each tile is two pieces; a letter and the background. He loves to take out all the letters and pile them up, then put all the background pieces together and run over it putting all the letters back in their places.

- stack blocks

- do puzzles (not the peg ones, the interlocking pieces ones. We have a couple; the 24pc (farm animals) is too hard, so I have to set it up for him so that there are 12 pieces put in already and he only needs to finish 12 more, the 8pc (old-timey circus train) is the perfect size for him to do independently, and I also got a Leapfrog alphabet one with 12 pieces and I modified it by writing the letters that go on each piece onto the little cardboard tray that is the backing. So he will take a puzzle piece with the A and D on it, and then find where it goes on the tray, and it works that way. I did it in pencil so I can erase it if it gets too easy later.)

-play with playdough. Some cookie cutters, a rolling pin, small plastic toys to hide and walk in the dough, and a plastic pizza cutter make for a lot of entertainment.

- pour water from a toy kettle into various plastic cups. I have a towel nearby, and he knows to wipe it up when he spills. He pours it back and forth and has a fine time, and I think he's learning about physics and volume as he goes. Also it gives me at least 30 minutes of no-toddler-on-my-heels time.

- he has this 18 inch rope I made him out of some scrap yarn, and he likes to put it into various alphabet letters, like C and U and O. The other day he even made an A by using a building block for the crosspiece. He likes me to do requests. (like, ask for a V) I think this is a good way to use different parts of the brain to practice the letters.

- magnetic toys like trains. I've also let him play with our "grownup toy" set of marbles and sticks that are really strong magnets. He loves it, but I don't let him play with it without watching him because I know it's not really for little kids and if he swallowed some it would be very very bad.

- keep him happy in the grocery store by asking him to find various letters on the packaging of the stuff you buy

- he might like numbers at this point, too. Even though it's not possible for him to cognitively grasp the concept of numbers beyond "one and more than one", he can still recognize them and have fun counting even if he doesn't really know what's going on. (sample conversation with my son: "Daddy has red buttons on his shirt! How many buttons does Daddy have?" "One, two, three, four, five, six! Two buttons!") I don't correct him, he's right that there are more than one, and that's good enough for a two-year-old.

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