Since Grandma is in town we haven't done any new learning activities this week but I have been listening to Moms Notes Cd's on structuring your child's day and thinking a lot about how to implement learning time into the day.
Here are some tips for getting started at any age:
- Choose a time when your child is fed and well-rested. Right before a nap or a meal is not the time to introduce a learning time!
- If your child is still doing 2 naps then your ideal time will be after lunch. If your child is taking just one nap each day then you will want to do learning time either after breakfast in the morning or after the nap and a snack. If your child has no nap I would recommend right after lunch as a good time for learning.
- Start with short amounts of time, even just 5 minutes if that's all you think your child can handle. Gradually add 5 minutes each week until you reach your goal.
General Tips for Babies:
Location: keep it on the floor, preferably on a blanket so there is some boundary to the activity.
Duration: 15 minutes is a fine goal for any child under the age of one. You may be able to do two 15 minute learning periods each day.
Types of Activities: expect each activity to last around 5 minutes with infants. You can choose a physical activity, a music activity, and then a reading activity to fill up the 15 minutes nicely.
General Tips for Toddlers:
Location: your learning time can be split so it takes place half at the table or highchair and half on the floor. Again, a blanket can help to give a reasonable boundary to the activity and can be a cue to your child that floor learning time is about to start, not just regular free play.
Duration: every toddler is different, you need to gauge your child's interest, ability to focus, and age on a case by case basis. However, I would say that you can aim for 30 minutes for a 2 year old and 45 minutes by 3 years old. If you want to achieve the longer learning time, please understand you need to vary the activities, they cannot do 1 activity for 30 full minutes. You can also feel free to do two slightly shorter learning periods each day.
Types of Activities: If you have a "sitter" then plan for 2 table activities and 1 floor activity. If you have a "mover" then plan for 1 table activity and 2 floor activities. Choose 3 activities from different categories (craft, fine motor, and music or maybe fine motor, physical, story). This will hold your child's interest and allow you to see where your child's strengths lie.
General Tips for Preschoolers:
Location: at least half of learning time should be at the table and half or less on the floor. Remember, you are preparing them for the larger amounts of sitting time in Kindergarten whether in public school or home school.
Duration: 30-60 minutes. As with toddlers, do not expect them to pursue one activity for an hour, plan enough activities to fill the time you have allotted. You can certainly do 30 minutes twice a day if you choose or do an hour altogether. Dividing the learning time between the table and the floor will be very useful if you have a preschooler who is a "mover". *If your child is in preschool every day any additional learning time should be shortened slightly compared to a child who does not attend a preschool outside the home. You don't want to burn them out so young.
Types of Activities: Again, variety is the key! At this age you can truly delve into math, science, social studies, and reading in addition to music, art, fine motor skills, and physical education. Always plan one more activity than you think you will need for the day just in case! Three to five activities should fill up a one hour time slot. Be careful not to let your preschooler jump through activities too quickly but know that sometimes you'll end up with extra time anyway.
Moms Notes by Carla and Joey Link
The Tot School Blog by Carisa
This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.
To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!