Thursday, April 15, 2010

To Learn or Not to Learn...

Since spring has FINALLY sprung(hooray!) I've found myself taking my little rambunctious 18 month-old son outside to enjoy the nice weather. And, oh boy!, has it been wonderful!! I think at least 20 minutes a day is required to keep my sanity and his, too. I start to forget what the dreadful winter is like. But, there are those few days when it's raining or just too cold to go outside. And I've been finding it hard to entertain him while inside. And I don't want to just "entertain" him either. I want to start to be able to teach him things that are age appropriate so that he can learn and progress mentally. I want to be able to challenge him, but not to the point that he and I both get frustrated. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had an older child and then I could do things with the older child and then the younger child would just observe and learn. But, since I only have 1 child my questions to you are....

How can I implement structured learning into our schedule?

What type of learning activities are age appropriate for him?

What are you doing/have you done with your child/children to make learning enjoyable?

Hopefully these questions make sense. I will take any suggestions I can get.


Britta said...

READ! Thats the best thing you can do with a toddler. Read, read, read. Take time to ask questions, point out pictures in the background, make up stories that fit the pictures but not the can even find tons of projects that fit the stories if you want to go that far.

Make green eggs after reading Green Eggs and Ham, pretend the doll is sleeping beauty and your kid is the prince who comes to wake her up, build castles out of toys, even look in closets for all the silly dr. Seuss creatures!

Structured learning time still needs to be loosely structured and you'll be amazed at how much your kid can pick up from merely being read too. His vocabulary will bloom, his communication skills will improve and ultimately he'll be more interested in learning when structured learning is presented.

And the best part is that you can find stories that'll fit ANY child's interest and you can read one book or 20 without feeling inturrupted in the middle of a 'project'.

Jared and Delia said...

Britta has some great ideas! I know what you mean can only play "I'm gonna get you" or peek a boo so many times before both of you get bored.

A lot of my activities are art related. When my first was small we would go on nature walks and pick up rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. We would then glue them to a paper when we got home and talk about what we found. I use a small blob of elmer's glue on a scratch piece of paper and a q-tip for each of us to paint the glue on and then stick the objects on.

When it is rainy, I would pull out his toys and classify them by color, or by shape and have him help.

Finger painting with pudding on wax paper is always fun.

Water color painting is fun and doesn't stain as easy.

I have this rice box filled with old rice. It went stale and instead of throwing it out I put it into a tupperware container for the kids to play with. We bust out the bath toys and animals and dig in. (we usually do this outside, but if you aren't afraid to do it inside then go for it).

We have also done marker painting. You color a picture with colorfu, washable markers. Tape the picture to the table and have them paint it with water. The water makes the marker bleed a little. I suggest using sketch paper or something like that because computer paper doesn't really bleed too much.

I like to be structured. I plan a general schedule for each day and follow it as long as it benefits everyone, making adjustments as needed. For some reason breaking up the day with planned (more planned for me than for him) activities helped it move along quickly even when the weather was bad. Most of the time the activities last only 15-30 minutes but afterward my son usually was willing to play independently for 30 minutes or so so I could get something else done.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I started doing a bit of structured learning time with my little girl when she was around 20 months. We've kept it up for years now. I need to start with my little boy. He does look at what we are doing and do a bit with us, but I want to focus more on his level again.

What I did starting out was choose a different thing to focus on each day (that's my own organizational mind though). So take my advice if you like it, if not throw it out.

For example I'd do animals Monday, shapes Tuesday, colors Wednesday, numbers Thursday, and letters Friday. Now it is different since she is older (i.e. science/social studies, math, reading, art, writing, etc....).

When my girl was really young our learning time only lasted about 15-20 minutes (sometimes longer). I did REALLY simple things. Like for shapes we'd play with a shapo ball and I'd just tell her what the shapes were not really expecting her to pick it up until later. With animals we'd play with all her play animals and make their sounds and talk about what they were. With letters I'd sing ABCs and get her to sing with me and we'd of course read books. With colors we'd go outside and find all the things that were green one day. We'd look in books for all the green things, etc... and then switch to a new color the next week. With numbers we'd count to ten and I'd teach her to do that. Then we'd count raisins and eat them. See? Just simple!

The important thing though was that when she started to shut down on me and I could tell I was pushing her too hard, we just ended for the day. I have always made it really light and even now when she starts to lose interest we quit.

As she got older the activities got progressivly longer and harder.

I also TRY to do a bit of structured play with my kids every day in the afternoon. This can be a trip to the park, or we all play with playdough, or we put on music and dance around, or I simply play legos with them.

But planning is key for me, because if it isn't written down I know I'll just gloss over it and perhaps spend too much time on the computer or something.