As you know, children do not come with an instruction manual. I imagine that, like many other super moms (that’s how my daughter calls me,) you have searched and researched on how and what to teach our little ones from birth. So much information can be confusing. I would like to share some of the things I have learned from experience and tons of hours of research on the topic of education at an early age. Because there is much to share, this blog is organized in four parts: areas of development, learning objectives, methods and lastly I’m sharing materials we have developed for Kids' Candor, which we also use at home. I hope you enjoy it.
Developmental Areas - There are four areas in which we can concentrate when planning activities and games. By focusing our energies on these areas, our children will develop skills they will use for the rest of their lives. These are:
These skills are developed according to the age and experience of children. Because a 3-month old child has different needs compared to a 3 year old, I have divided the areas into five stages of development according to age (See Developmental Matrix Goals.) Age is only a guide. Individual children develop at a unique pace. You know best about your child’s stage and pace of development. As your child grows and learns, you must provide activities that correspond to their developmental needs.
Learning objectives: Think about the things you want your children to know and/or to do. To begin, make a list of high level goals. Examples include: shapes, colors, the alphabet, feelings, animals, plants, numbers, opposites, etc. There are many more. I invite you to share yours with other super-moms in the comments section.
Now that you identified what you would like your child to learn, breakdown the goals according to what is most appropriate by age. Here is an example:
Once you define the goals based on age, you can then choose to focus on educational activities to help you achieve these goals.
Methods: Among the most recommended methods, this is what I consider most appropriate for children under three years of age. I like to follow what is called the Transactional Model. It is a communication model summarized by giving and receiving. It is easy to follow and it adjusts according to the child's development. The mother, father or caregiver must take the initiative and "give" the lesson to the child, observe his response by "receiving" the message and respond by "giving" more. This could be achieved by describing the experience, paying attention to how the child responds and repeating. For example, imagine that you are playing with your 18 month old child with ABC wooden blocks. You can say, "Julian, I'm giving you the block with the letter A." Point at the letter and repeat "Would you pass me the letter A?" If the child happens to give you the correct letter, celebrate, if he passes a different letter, you can teach him with a simple sentence like this one: "This is the letter B." Continue the game. At this early age, most likely it would seem that the child is not learning much. It is part of the process. Do not be discouraged, because eventually your child will show that all this time he had been learning.
Materials: To optimize the time you spend with your child and have a more productive interaction, have a combination of materials on hand. At this early age, children learn best with games, music, books and educational activities guided by an adult.
Here I’m sharing some materials to get you started.
This educational module was created with children 2-3 years old in mind, but it is flexible and so it can be enjoyed by younger or older children, by adjusting the way you do the activities.
You will need the following materials to do this educational module:
For more music, subscribe to the Kids’ Candor YouTube Channel
Toys: Shape Sorting Cube. We recommend: Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
Tissue paper shapes – Cut shapes out of tissue paper. Make assorted shapes sizing 1-3 inches using different colors. Tissue Paper, Assorted Colors
Reference cards: 20 Activity Cards (Download PDF ready to print PDF here) – This file includes 20 activities you can do with your child using the materials indicated above. These activity cards indicate what materials you need for each activity, easy to follow instructions and keywords that are relevant to the activity with the approximate phonetic transcription in Spanish or English. The cards also indicate what skills you child is developing by doing the activity, and the recommended stage. All activity cards are in both English and Spanish for your convenience. There is no right or wrong way to follow the Educational Module. You know what works best for you and your child. Here are some suggestions to make the best out of your experience.