Why Use More Hands-On Techniques Rather Than Verbal Instruction When Teaching Toddlers?
At this age, children learn from doing. Verbal instruction will always have a place in teaching,(and it’s important to speak with toddlers frequently), but toddlers learn tremendously by experiencing the cause and effects of their actions. Hands-on techniques can also hold a toddler’s attention well while teaching takes place because the child is involved directly in the learning process. Teaching toddlers through hands-on activities also fosters creativity. Not only can planned, interactive lessons help toddlers learn, but so can free play.
Tips For Teaching Toddlers Through Lessons or Activities:
- Use Lessons That Allow Toddlers To Discover:By allowing toddlers to be a part of the lesson, rather than simply a listener, the learning comes naturally. For example, participating in a nature walk activity allows toddlers to discover not only the beauty of nature, but also helps solidify the names of colors that are found in nature, all without a toddler sitting for a long lesson.
- Use More Senses Than Just Sight and Hearing: Toddlers love to touch. They want to hold things, they want to feel things. They also want to smell things, and even taste. Teaching toddlers is much more effective when a toddler can use as many senses as possible while learning about a topic. You may want to start a lesson with a fun learning activity that includes more than watching or listening.
- Repetition: It’s helpful when teaching toddlers to have a rhyme, chant or motto that goes along with the topic that can be repeated throughout the activity. By repeating important points, a toddler is more likely to remember. Doing activities multiple times is also a great way to use repetition when teaching.
- Use Music: Music can help children retain information in a way that simply speaking does not. Many adults can still remember lyrics to songs they learned as children while having less vivid memories of verbal instruction given at that age. Teaching toddlers through music can help toddlers remember the main concepts of your lesson.
- Keep an Upbeat and Positive Attitude: Keep your voice active and engaging while teaching. Show some enthusiasm and excitement in whatever experiments or lessons you teach. Toddlers love learning from a parent or teacher who makes the experience come to life.
- Build a Framework: At this age, you are often simply teaching the basics. You are building the framework a toddler will use later to learn more in-depth concepts of math, writing, reading, science, etc. Keep the concepts simple and intriguing.
- Try “Solutions” That Don’t Work: When doing hands-on activities it can be helpful to try “solutions” that do not work. This teaches toddlers about problem-solving and perseverance. It shows them that it’s okay to keep trying new things and coming up with new ideas, even if some of those ideas don’t work. It also gives the toddler a chance to feel like the expert when s/he can point out to the teacher or parent that the “solution” is wrong!
Tips For Teaching Toddlers Through Free Play:
- Offer Toys That Foster A Child’s Imagination: Not all toys are created equal. Make sure toddlers have a variety of toys that encourage imaginative play, such as blocks, toy kitchens, baby dolls, plastic animals, etc.
- Allow Toddlers to Use Toys in Multiple Ways: Encourage a toddler’s creativity by allowing her/him to play with toys in a variety of ways (keeping safety in mind). For example, wooden blocks can be used to build towers, but they can also be used to build roads, horse stables, doll furniture, etc.
- Give Toddlers Ideas on How to Explore During Free Play: Can they make a ball out of molding clay? Can they make a snake out of it too? Can they jump with two feet? Can they hop with one? Do they see any shapes inside? Are there any shapes they recognize outside? Will a ball bounce on carpet? Will it bounce on tile? By asking exploratory questions, you can help guide toddlers in discovering more about their world.
- Variety: By offering toddlers a variety of things to try in their free play time, you open up the number of learning experiences they can have. Offer art supplies, puzzles, toys, books, etc.