Learning in these early years is spelled P-L-A-Y. Although I love to share a variety of ways to “teach” your child various concepts, the best way your child can learn is by playing, and specifically when you play with them.
Besides obvious differences in the physical appearance of our boys, they are even more different when it comes to personality and learning styles. Big Brother is a major extrovert and loves to be with people. Little Brother is more introverted. Big Brother has always LOVED to do learning activities with me at the table but he also wants to be constantly entertained. Little Brother, on the other hand, can easily entertain himself and enjoys having some “alone time” while he is busy playing (with his cars, especially). He usually has very little interest in the more structured learning activities.
Each child is different and I’ve had to remind myself of the importance of learning based on the interests of each individual child. That’s why thematic units are such a powerful teaching tool in early childhood.
There are so many ways that we can incorporate learning into play without our children even knowing it. Little Brother’s passion is his hot wheels. He LOVES to play with his cars. Not only can I encourage pretend play when I’m interacting with him, but I can also throw in some concept learning as well.
Count the cars (or bugs, or ponies, or dolls…whatever your child is interested in)!
Compare the sizes. Find the biggest and the smallest.
Sort the cars (or other toys) according to color.
Keep it short and fun, then get back to pretending!