I was scrolling Facebook a few days ago when an ad popped up that started with…
“I’m so relieved that my 2 year old can read. I was really struggling. This product was the answer.”
You’re happy your 2 year old can read?
You were struggling and concerned because this little human who has only been on Earth for 2 years couldn’t read?
I was literally flabbergasted by this ad.
But then I got to thinking…
I see posts like this almost daily…
My toddler won’t sit still.
I can’t get my toddler to learn their colors.
How do I teach my toddler to count?
Yes, I think it’s important that toddlers know some of these things, but not right now at 2 years old.
The toddler years are all about exposing your child to skills that will be learned later in life, like reading, writing, and math.
The toddler years are not the time to teach, let alone master these skills.
So what should your toddler be learning?
Colors & Shapes
I wanted to start with colors and shapes because it’s the least important of the toddler skills. I still follow the philosophy of exposing toddlers to colors and shapes without the expectation of mastering them.
But this is where the extent of your academic focus should be during the toddler years.
You don’t need formal lessons either. My daughter learned her colors in a week just because I laid out a few color swatches on her shelf (You can read that story here).
Practical Life Skills
Practical life skills are super important.
My last year in teaching public school, I was a 4th grade teacher. Over half my class couldn’t tie their shoes, and some still struggled with zippers.
These are essential skills that should be the main focus in the toddler years and moving through the preschool years.
Practical life skills for toddlers include:
- Getting dressed
- Brushing teeth
- Washing hands
- Simple cleaning tasks (putting clothes away, throwing dirty clothes in the basket, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping)
- Feeding pets
- Putting on a coat
- Throwing trash away
- Cleaning up from a meal
- Setting the table
It’s amazing how the simplest of tasks that we take for granted each day, is what we need to focus on with our toddlers.
Fine Motor Skills
Remember those 4th graders that couldn’t tie their shoes or zip their coats?
Well they also didn’t know how to properly use scissors.
Any assignment I gave them that required any cutting turned out to be disastrous. Something that should take them less than a minute to cut out took them 5 minutes or longer. And it still wasn’t a perfect cut on the lines.
Fine motor skills should be a top priority with your toddler. Helping your toddler refine their small muscle movements is the basis for writing in the later years.
Most kids who struggle with writing in the elementary years just simply lack the fine motor skills to sustain writing.
Keep it simple…
Grab a pair of tongs from the kitchen drawer and some ping pong balls, or invite your toddler to hang mittens on a clothesline with clothespins.
How to Explore
And the most important skill your toddler should have is knowing how to explore.
Exploring, questioning, and a strong sense of curiosity is the basis for all future learning.
Without being curious, there is no reason to learn.
One of my favorite ways to bring about curious toddlers is discovery baskets. The kitchen discovery basket was a favorite in our house.
The toddler years is not about the ABCs or 123s. It’s not even about colors or shapes.
No, it’s all about exploring the world around you and learning exactly how to manipulate it to your advantage.
For fun hands on toddler activities, click the image below to grad a sample theme from our toddler curriculum.
About the Author: Amanda Stockdale is on a mission to help families fall in love with their homeschool. She uses her 4 essentials to child-led learning framework to help homeschooling moms raise passionate learners while still finding some YOU time every single day. She is the creator of The Toddler Experience Curriculum and her signature course Raising Passionate Learners.