Let me start out this post with a preemptive warning that I actually believe that toddler “education” is not something to stress about. When Bo was 18 months old, he was no joke, a baby genius. He said his first word at 7 months and his words skyrocketed after that. He was literally reading by 3 years old. I will be honest. I was kind of cocky about it and I sort of took credit for his success. I read books with him, worked on his sounds, colors and shapes and pretty much, from what I could tell, I had created a baby prodigy. All the signs pointed to his genius mom.
Then Mia was born. I took the exact same steps with her. I began reading her books and “testing” her on her knowledge and bless her sweet heart….she wasn’t a baby genius. In fact, not only could she not read by the time kindergarten rolled around, but she honestly knew maybe 5 of her letters, if that. Mia ended up doing fine and actually is super smart now. What I came to realize was that I actually didn’t have as big of an impact as I thought. I feel like kids cognitive interests will be perked when they are ready. So then what the heck is the point of trying to teach them at all?!
I decided that teaching my babies is actually the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and for them to spend time together. Maybe they aren’t becoming baby geniuses but the time together is kind of perfect! There is a lot of laughter, a lot of bribing and frankly, sometimes a little toddler tantrum thrown in the mix. But at least I am exposing them and giving them the opportunity to learn. It can’t hurt!
There are a few things that help me find success. First of all, high chairs are key for most of the activities! I can strap them in and they can’t get easily distracted with toys. Second off, I bribe them. Their bribes of choice lately are suckers. They will list off the parts of the face like Einsteins if they see a sucker on the horizon. It actually is kind of how I am with Peanut Butter M&M’s, but I digress. And thirdly, we sing A LOT! I wouldn’t necessarily say my voice is the voice of an angel but it motivates them enough to have me wondering if maybe it is!
Another activity I have found success with is stringing Cheerios on spaghetti noodles or skewers. This keeps them busy forever! Supposedly it helps with fine motor skills but it also will provide you with at least 10 minutes of quiet time. Que the Coke Zero and peanut butter M&M’s.
Last thing I usually do is work on colors. I usually draw about 6 different colored circles on a paper. I then have them sort fruit loops into coordinating colored circles. I have found that these things have worked for us. Even if it is just small things to help them follow directions, I feel like I am helping them become somewhat decent members of society.
Let me know if you try any of these. I am curious to know if it works for other kids. And if you have different ideas, I am always on the hunt for more!