How and When Should I Start Teaching My Toddler?

Updated on May 06, 2007
J.J. asks from Carrollton, TX
12 answers

I don't want to be one of those pushy parents trying to make my kid some kind of academic superstar, but I do strongly believe that in general we don't give our kids enough credit for what they are able to learn at an early age. I know that Montessori and other preschools start teaching children academic subjects as early as 18 months. I have a very active toddler who is probably average or maybe even a little behind average as far as speaking. He is almost 17 months and has about 9-10 words. Are there any books or programs that anyone can recommend to help me learn how to give him a headstart academically while still keeping it fun for us both. I do have him enrolled in an MDO one day a week, but am not interested in sending him to a school yet. I want to do this myself. I have read Glenn Doman's books, and done a few flashcards with him, but he just doesn't seem too interested. He watches Baby Einstein and the Titzer "Teach Your Baby To Read" videos. He really loves the Titzer videos!

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

I'm a teacher. The best model is you, so just keep talking to him...a lot. He's picking it up...you just don't realize it yet. My son didn't really start talking until he was 2.

These are what we have, & my son loves.

Leap Frog videos
all Baby Einstein videos
Little Einsteins videos
Berenstein Bears videos

My son watched those for a long time, & they helped supplement the "teaching" I was doing. I say "teaching" because he is just learning from you talking to him...not in a formal teaching setting.

1 mom found this helpful

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K.K.

answers from Dallas on

Hi J.,
He is young and therefore is learning all the time---you just are not seeing all the fruits of it yet. Exposing him to different varieties of experiences and activities is all you really need to worry about at this point. I did use a curriculum to help keep ME motivated and out of a gutter, so to speak....carols affordable curriculum...it is about $10/month per child and starts at age 18 months. She sends all the materials you need, except crayons and glue. I loved it...it was easy and laid out for me to just pickup and start. It is online. http://www.carolscurriculum.com/

I don't think you are being pushy...an involved parent, just as you should be.

K.

2 moms found this helpful
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B.S.

answers from Dallas on

Great advice! Share your life with him and everything will come. You don't want to turn him off to learning. The best thing you can do is read to him a lot and talk to him a lot. Have you read Mem Fox's "Reading Magic"? Even though you're not trying to teach him to read specifically, it has great information about reading aloud in a fun way. Library storytimes are great! Definitely let him see you AND your husband read. Have you seen "Your Baby Can Read"? Great DVDs that really can help your child read. Usborne Books consultants have them available. www.KidsLoveUsborneBooks.biz

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A.P.

answers from Dallas on

There's a cute "deck of cards" called BRIGHT & BEYOND by Pal Toys that has fun, developmentally appropriate activities to do with your child, divided by age (1 year old, 2 year old, preschool, etc). I got mine at RIGHT START in Plano. It has easy, quick and creative ideas on ways to teach your child important first concepts, like in the 2 year old deck; turning your kitchen drawers or dresser in your room into a "post office" where they sort/match shapes that you tape to envelopes; also using photos of loved ones to make memory match game. It's low pressure and low stress, but fun ways to learn and to bond with your child. I was an early chidlhood major in college and taught preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade reading before having my first child, and I can tell you this- the more fun and active it is for your child, the more they will love learning! And, I'd put away the flash cards for a while- there are many other fun, engaging, and meaningful ways to teach. Have fun!

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B.F.

answers from Dallas on

A lot of great advice that was posted to you. My son loved helping me do everything like the other mom saying about putting things up or cooking. When I did laundry my son and I would count each item that went into the washer and the dryer and we would say what color the item was. He is 5 now and he still loves to help and he is still learning new things like why we wash things in hot or cold water and why we wash certain things together. He even helps me cook now. He will mix something for me while I am working on something else. Good luck and have fun!

L.A.

answers from Dallas on

This website has a lot of really helpful information.

http://www.zerotothree.org/site/PageServer?pagename=key_l...

Also, my son is 15 months and says 2 words, but knows more than that, he just doesn't say them. He started walking at 9 months though. I read to him everyday, and teach him words and colors, shapes... but he is developing at his rate. He falls into this category:

"Late talkers
Babies often specialize in one area of development at a time. So between 10 and 11 months, one particularly persistent boy spends nearly every waking moment trying to walk. Once he takes his first independent steps, he is all over the house, walking for the sheer joy of movement. He has little time to think about words for all of the things he is seeing. By 14 months, the walking is less all-consuming, and he begins to point at things, as if to say "what's that?" His vocabulary picks up after that."

http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,3920,00.html

Children develop at different rates, so I wouldn't be alarmed that your son's vocabulary isn't impressive, as children learn to tackle many things at once. It's the babies that are slow in development in all areas that really need professional intervention.

But of course, no matter the age of the child or the rate of development, reading and teaching and learning activities are a wonderful thing.

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M.

answers from Dallas on

For give a headstart to your son i can suggest, 30 pieces wooden block set by imaginarium. i bought this to my daughter around your son's age. And by the time she was 23 month old she knew letters A thru Z and had about 300-350 words vocabulary.
This set was the best toy i've ever bought for her. I got it from Tuesday morning.
here is the link if you want to check it out:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000231F0O/...

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

What a great mom! I am also a teacher and agree with the previous teacher's statements. I used to teach 1st grade and the most important thing you can do is read to your child EVERY day. Picture books that have real pictures with the word underneath are the reason why my son has such a large vocabulary. We show the movies but unless you are there to interact with your son, it won't do too much. We also teach our son sign language. It's really boosted his speech. There are some videos with signing. You can make your own flashcards and I suggest labeling everything in his room (or the house.) Doors, bookshelves, lamps, etc. that are labeled will eventually click in his mind that that names the item! Sing songs, build blocks (great for his age), teach him to kick, climb, opposites, twisting, marching, etc.
I haven't started a curriculum with my son but we do activities in 15 minute increments since that's about his attention span!

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J.K.

answers from Dallas on

I started out both of my boys with the book "Slow and Steady Get Me Ready". Strange title, but the book basically takes household items and you do an activity with them that is age appropriate for them and it tells you what it is teaching them (like hand-eye coordination, etc.) Then at about 2 years old I partnered that book with just a basic preschool workbook I found at Wal-mart and made it fun "school time" for them. After that I decided to homeschool and my five-year-old just finished his first grade year. My three-year-old is still doing Preschool work. The basic thing you want to do is find what seems fun for them and making a learning experience. Another thing to do is read, read, read to him. Let him go to the library and pick out his own books. I believe that is the best language builder. Happy schooling!

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J.W.

answers from Dallas on

I believe that everyday activities are learning experiences for children. For example when you put away the groceries, explain that you sort them like "the cans go here, the boxes go there, these have to stay cold so they go in here...." Show him the shapes of the groceries. Use mathematical words in everyday conversations such as size, shape, tall, small, together, sort, different, same, etc. Read books that have pictures, but also read books that are just beyond his age (in small time intervals so as not to lose his attention). Let him catch you reading. When you are cooking show him how to measure items (when he is interested). Have fun, don't focus on what and how to teach him, just explain your daily tasks to him. He will get more out of it than you think. He will be hearing words and perhaps not understand them, but when he is 5 or 6 and hears those words again...he will say "I know that word. Mommy used it in the kitchen." Have fun with him.

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C.R.

answers from Dallas on

Not sure but you can check out www.usborne.com/N2470 - There is a set that is your baby can read. I have heard it is really good. Good Luck!

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S.J.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter just turned 2. She knows all her ABCs, 123s, and colors and shapes. She learned them by playing with plastic letters and puzzle toys and we checked out books and videos from the library on these subjects. One of her first words was oval of all things. I could tell when my daughter was interested because she got so excited about them. Just play with your child and read and look at books and he will let you know when he is ready. Once they really get to talking you know when they are catching on. I would say her interest in these things started at about 22 months.