The earlier you start doing learning activities disguised as engaging games, transitioning to preschool will be easy! I’m sure you’ve heard that children learn through play before – which I cannot agree with more! However, toddlers only know as much as we’ve exposed them to. We are not expected to to figure everything out ourselves, otherwise, schools wouldn’t exist! What we learn in school helps us build the background knowledge necessary to innovate.

Helping little learners learn big concepts does not involve having them sit down in front of a workbook. In fact, workbooks are not developmentally appropriate for the early years. Toddlers do not yet have the fine motor skills needed to write or trace. Engaging in activities not developmentally appropriate may cause frustration for both parent and child. Furthermore, it can be discouraging and decrease your child’s self-esteem. Learning opportunities are all around you. Your job is to discover what motivates your child and create engaging games to capture their attention.

Incorporate Movement into Activities

For active children, learning numbers or shapes can be fun and physical! Have your toddler partake in engaging games by incorporating movement whenever you can. Run down the hall and let your child bring you back the item with the right number or shape. Use Lego, blocks, playdough, or magnetic tiles to form numbers, letters, or shapes.

Leverage You Child’s Favorite Characters From Storytime

Children have books they can read over and over again, like Little Blue Truck, Pete the Cat, or Spot; or classics such as The Runaway Bunny or Winnie the Pooh. Create manipulatives and learning activities incorporating characters from their favorite books. Help them think from their favorite character’s point of view. “I think Pete the Cat’s favorite number is four because he has four groovy legs”. “Blue’s favorite color might be green because his best friend Toad is green”. This will help develop social-emotional skills by helping them think from someone else’s perspective.

Use Manipulatives as Part of Engaging Games

The easiest way to make learning engaging is to use manipulatives. Using manipulatives can help strengthen your toddler’s fine and gross motor skills too, among other skills, which is a win-win! Using manipulatives does not need to cost a lot of money. Use your child’s blocks, cars, or even cheerios at breakfast to practice counting!