Reading – Reading aloud to children is unquestionably one of the best things you can do to encourage their curiosity and understanding about the world around them. Vocabulary, imagination, and creativity are all aided through the introduction of books. Even children who don’t like to sit still for long periods of time can benefit from books being read aloud to them while they roam the room, fiddle with an art project, enjoy a snack, or lounge on a blanket on the grass.
Outdoor Play – Study after study shows that children with the opportunity to explore the outdoors are healthier and better able to focus and enjoy activities both indoors and out than children in families that forgo the outdoors. Getting kids outside can be a mood booster, relaxer, and excellent method for running off excess energy. Experience is also a fabulous teacher, there are infinite possibilities for learning while outside; planting flowers, playing in water tables or kiddie pools, walks, and wildlife observation, are just a few of the wonderful opportunities our family enjoys.
Arts and Crafts – Giving kids the freedom to create process driven art can help develop skills associated with invention and problem solving. It’s also a lot of fun and messy and increases the chances that children are willing to give something new a try. Following directions or creating a project based art project or craft can also be beneficial for children as they learn to follow directions and associate outcomes with their individual choices. Structured crafts aren’t the perfect solution for all toddlers, but for those who enjoy working alongside their teacher/parent to create, it can be a fabulous opportunity to introduce more formal instruction in a fun and relaxed manner. Many of these projects lend themselves to thematic instruction (i.e. learning about bugs, weather, or a specific holiday).
Relaxation – Children aren’t necessarily born with the ability to relax; for many if not most this is an acquired skill. In the heat of a tantrum or toddler level emotional crisis, helping them take deep breaths, counting aloud, or singing a simple song may help alleviate anxiety and frustration. Continued use of these techniques will hopefully result in the toddler being able to utilize them even when the parent isn’t there to facilitate. Children relax in a variety of ways and one of the most enjoyable aspects of learning about your children is finding what activities they find most calming. Some are comforted by read aloud stories, while others prefer running outside or coloring.
Independent Play – Providing toddlers a chance to play independently of adult instruction assures children are given the opportunity to be independently productive and build highly valuable creative and critical thinking skills. Children who are able to play independently are often better able to calm themselves and occupy themselves during down time. Parents also directly benefit from having children who are skilled at independent play. Calmer and happier parents that are able to complete necessary household chores make for much better parents and teachers; a must for a homeschooling family.
In what ways have you instilled everyday learning into you children’s lives?