Ask the Moms: Structured Learning Time with Toddler

I received an email this morning that so perfectly fits in with my life right now,  I wanted to share it with you too, and see if you had any other thoughts or ideas.

Here’s the note:

Hi! I have a question that I was hoping either you or your readers could help me out with. I know that Lucas is around the same age as my son (20 months) and I’m wondering what sort of learning activities you do with him? Are you teaching letters or colors yet? And if so.. HOW? Sometimes I feel like Jackson is “suppose” to know all these things by such n’ such time, but he doesn’t. And I don’t know how to teach him either! He knows a lot of his body parts and we talk about daily stuff, but I feel like I should be teaching him more. 

My response:

Hi Jill. We don’t do any structured learning right now. We work on body parts throughout the day and during bath time. We also talk about everything as we’re doing it. I think a lot of learning at this age comes from day to day experiences. Talking about things, doing things, asking and answering questions, etc. We read books and I talk about colors and numbers occasionally throughout the day, but we don’t have a “sit down and let’s work on our letters” time.

I want to open this up to you… I think it’s great food for thought and a lot of tips can be shared!

When did you start structured learning with your toddlers? How did you go about teaching things? 

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

9 thoughts on “Ask the Moms: Structured Learning Time with Toddler

  1. Well my daughter is only 15 months but we don't do structured learning time either. We are working on body parts right now but she hasn't got anything yet. I think structured learning doesn't need to start till age 2 or around there. They are still absorbing a lot right now just by playing

  2. My daughter is 3 and we never did any structured learning time. When I read her a book I have always asked her what colors certain things were or where is the ____? It's really helped her to learn her letters and numbers. She loves it when we read to her and it's a great way for her to learn new things.

  3. My little guy is 27 months and we don't do “structured” learning at this point. He is learning/knows his numbers, letters, colors, etc. but it's because we read a lot of books, color, and count going up/down the stairs for fun. In my opinion, they've got more than enough structured learning ahead of them for when they go to school, why not keep it fun? Now, I do have some flashcards we picked up at Target that he likes to look at, but the main excitement is in taking them in and out of the box 🙂 Rachel

  4. It should not be formal at all at that age. Reading, imagnitive play, letting them help you in the kitchen and count while you measure things. Learning is such an organic thing with kids… not need to drill at all.

  5. I agree with you and Kara, well I guess everyone that has commented thus far! No structured learning, just reading, playing and talking!

  6. My daughter is 3 and we have just started structure learning. We used to do puzzles and some books and like you just teach random stuff throughout the day. Now we're doing flash cards and more. But honestly, videos, puzzles, books and flash cards are all great ways of teaching.
    Good Luck

  7. I agree. This is something I explored and tried with RYan and we FAILED. At this age his attention span is not that great so hard to actually “teach” him stuff so we decided just to take it day by day! 🙂

  8. Well I don't know about 'structured'. I think with a kid that age, unstructured GAME is what really works. I grabbed some letter flash cards a couple of weeks ago from the school aisle. My daughter is 22 months, so call it 21 months when I got them. She could recognize O T S and A I think. Now she knows 21 of them by sight and can say them, or at least repeat them if she can't say it by herself. I made it a game, what's this one. It's B like banana, etc. The reverse of the cards has a picture on it. I started doing A-F and then the others 5 at a time until we ran out. After doing it 2 x the first day and 1x for a week maybe after that, I just did the whole thing in order and she got maybe 16 of them. We talked more about the new ones she wasn't getting. I tried them all mixed up and she still got them today, although she can start to guess B comes after A now, for example. She can't say W so as soon as we do, she says X. We haven't tried lower case yet. I figured that would be confusing. We work on colors out of books and with magnets I painted (go get me the green one) and I've continued counting with her (she puts up one finger on one hand, then one finger on the other, repeat)–helps with diaper changes and cleaning up hands after meals. She doesn't really have a concept though of the numbers yet. She knows a few of her colors and can point to them in a book and so on. She loves to repeat letters and is happy when she gets praised for it. So…if you call making a game out of flashcards structured, then yes. However, it's not like it's a certain time of day or anything. I take EVERY opportunity as a learning opportunity. I was never EVER good at narrating what I did every day (look mom is washing the dishes) and just now is she starting to sit long enough to read a book, and brings them to me all day long… in fact it's taken me 1/2 hour to type this out and 6 books stacked up around me.

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