Whether or not he’s headed for school soon, your child may be showing an interest in learning his ABCs (numbers, shapes, and colors too!).
If your toddler shouts “A is for Andy!” every time he encounters “his” special letter, indulge his interest in the alphabet with some simple lessons in the ABCs. There’s no need for flash cards or pop quizzes — in fact, skip the academics altogether. Instead, let letter-learning come naturally, through everyday exposure and play. Since many toys (and TV shows) feature letters, numbers, and other concepts, you’ll have ready-made reinforcements. The key is to key in to your child’s curiosity, rather than forcing the alphabet on him. Not every kid is into the ABCs right now, and that’s okay too. Time is on your side!
ABCS ALL AROUND
The best place to start: your child’s name, of course! Write it often (on drawings, labels, chalkboards, or in the bathtub with soap crayons), post it (on his bedroom door or over his hook in the coat closet), and point it out (on packages he receives and when you see it in books). Spell it aloud. Let him trace the letters after you write them and expose him to the rest of the ABCs through alphabet books, magnetic letters, and “environmental” reading — traffic signs, cereal boxes, and so on. Labeling toy shelves and other objects in your home helps him associate letters and words with the objects they represent — alphabet learning at its finest!
LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER 1 (AND 2 AND 3)
Just as you point out letters around you, do the same with numbers. Count as you help him put on mittens and socks or snap up his sweater; count as you place cheese cubes on his plate; count as you watch one, two, three squirrels chase one another in the park. Think aloud: “There are four people in our family, so we need four plates at the dinner table.” Sing counting songs and chants, like “One Potato, Two Potato” or “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” Sorting (his bath toys), classifying (his shapes), grouping (his stuffed animals), matching (his socks), and making patterns are all premath skills too.
COLORS OF THE RAINBOW
Small kids love big colors, on everything from toys to dishes to clothes to crayons — so it shouldn’t be too tough to point out lots of beautiful hues around your house and beyond. More great ways to learn about colors: Invest in finger paints for some simple lessons in color-mixing (blue + yellow = green, for example). Or, if your child is game, consider a day (or a lunchtime party or playdate) devoted to one color: Wear red clothes, eat red foods, play with red toys (have your child sort them out ahead of time), color with red crayons, and well, you get the (red) picture.
As your tot plays with his shape sorter or builds with his blocks, casually mention the names of the shapes he’s using — even trickier ones like “pentagon” or “trapezoid.” Or get some simple cookie cutters and bake a batch of sweet shapes together (you can also use the cutters on sandwiches, pancakes, or waffles). During drawing sessions, make a square or circle for your toddler to copy. Or show him how you can turn a square into a house or a circle into a face. What other ideas does he have? Searching for shapes is a super waiting-room game too. You may be surprised at what your pint-sized detective can spy with his little eye!
Published by What to Expect
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