A simple way to add in some learning time to your daily routine each day. This can be done in 5-10 minutes and gets noticeable results!
Having some sort of learning time each day is something that can really add guilt to the plate of parents. We all want to teach our little ones all that we can, but the idea of adding one more thing seems daunting, especially something like teaching kids.
Way back when Brayden was 3.5 years old, I decided that I needed to improve our learning activity of the day. We had previously had our theme of the day each day as discussed I discussed in this post: Learning Activities (Preschoolwise) .
This worked great, but as Brayden was getting older, I thought we needed more direction in our learning time. January 1 is a natural time to start new goals, so we started a new program with the new year. Brayden was 3.5 and Kaitlyn was 1.5.
I didn’t really expect Kaitlyn to benefit from it as much as Brayden, but to my surprise, she learned really quickly!
We have since built on it even more and created a whole official curriculum (see the eBook for it here), but I thought I would post what we did then for those of you with younger children. I think this is something that you could start even as young as 6 month or so, just in a low-key sort of way.
It was still a theme day, but I gave the theme direction.
This would be great for you to add to your schedule whether it be summer, the new school year, or just any old time of year you need a change. Learning time is a great form of structured playtime.
Simple Learning Activity of the Day Learning Time
Monday: Letter of the Day
Monday was our letter of the day. I started with the letter A and we worked our way through the alphabet. Each Monday was a new letter. I drew the letter A on a piece of paper. I would then ask the kids what letter it was. Then I asked what sound it made. I taped it to the cabinet (but after a few weeks I noticed that tape on wood is not a good idea–duh–so the fridge or whiteboard is a better idea).
Then we went through the house looking for “A” words. We would find objects that started with the letter A. It is normal for little ones to not get it at first, but they catch on quickly as you are consistent with this.
I tried to incorporate the letter A into our day as much as possible. For lunch, we would have an apple as our fruit. Any time I said a word that started with the letter A, I would stress the word.
Tuesday: Color of the Day
Tuesday was the day we did a color of the day. I just chose a new color each week. I would put up a piece of paper in that color. I asked what color it was. We then looked around the house for things that color. We each wore a shirt that color. We ate a food that color if possible. We were all about the color that whole day!
Wednesday: Shape of the Day
Wednesday was our shape day. I took the colored piece of paper and cut it into the shape of the day. We then went through the same routine of finding the shapes around the house and everywhere we went that day. I tried to incorporate food in that shape. If there wasn’t a food that was naturally that shape, I would make a peanut butter sandwich and cut it into that shape.
Find some sensory STEM ideas here.
Thursday: Number Day
Thursday was our number day. I am sure you are getting the picture by now. I started with the number one. I drew a one on a paper and also one shape from our shape day. So if shape day was a square, I drew the number one followed by one square. When we were on the number five and a circle, then I drew five circles on a piece of paper. We then went around the house counting things that were one.
Friday: Free Day
Friday was the day I filled in with other items that had not been covered. Science, history, art, music, etc. We could do sensory activities, work on gross motor skills, practice cutting skills, etc.
IDEAS FOR APPLICATION
Like I said, I was surprised at how well Kaitlyn responded to this at such a young age. It was such a simple thing to do each day. I figured just the extra exposure and focus helped her learn.
With Brayden, we had a learning time each day set aside to focus on it more. Here are some ideas for different age ranges. I started including McKenna in our morning learning time when she hit about 6 months old. These age ranges are simply approximate. Of course, go at the pace of your individual child. Keep things low-key with this method. Exposure and repetition are what really help.
- 6-12 Months Old: I drew the A on the paper and then showed it to her and said “A”. I then told her the sound it makes. I did the same for the other items. On the letter day, I might read her one of our alphabet books. On the shape day, a book about shapes. It was low-key and just focused on exposing her. I would also just sing the ABCs on the letter of the day. I wasn’t expecting any sort of reaction from her (like, I didn’t expect her to tell me that is an A). My goal was simply to have exposure.
- 12-18 Months Old: If you are reading this for the first time while your child is in this age range, I would start with the ideas from 6-12 months old first. Then move on as you see your child is ready to move forward. This is an age range where the toddler understands a lot but can communicate little. If you have been doing sign language with your child, you could add learning the sign for what you are doing that day. Or, for example, on A day you could learn to sign “apple” or “animal” or something that might interest her. During this age range, I would just slowly start to add to what you have been doing. Children learn best when it is step by step (see Factors that Influence a Child’s Learning and The Learning Process for Toddlers for more on this concept). Don’t try to jump to where you think your child should be. Start at the beginning and work your way up.
- 18-24 Months Old: During this age range, get into the finding the A things around the house and counting things in the house, like the pillows on the couch to see if it matches your number of the day. Get excited about it. Incorporate your theme into as much of your day as possible. During this age range, most children start to speak simple sentences if they aren’t already, so your child will likely be verbally responsive during this time period. She might enjoy flashcards, but don’t push it if you can see she doesn’t like them. Do them for fun, not to try to turn your child into the next Bill Gates.
- 2-3 Years Old: During this year, you can start to incorporate more into the day. Your child will obviously grow a lot over the year (intellectually–they don’t change a whole lot physically). Remember to build on things. This is the age of the really fun toddler! They are thrilled to do everything. Okay, I am biased. I love two year olds. I know a lot of people struggle with the two year old (and the chorus of “no” and “I do it myself!”), but it is one of my favorite stages. But very small things thrill the two year old. If your child likes to color, you can go online and google “letter A coloring page” and find hundreds of letter A’s for your child to color. If it is D day and your little one loves dump trucks, google “dump truck coloring page” and take your pick. Your little two year old will also want to help a lot. On number day, let her help you make cookies, counting as you go. Be sure to see Learning Activities (Preschoolwise) . This post was written when Brayden was at the end of this phase.
- 3-4 Years Old: This is the age range when you can start to have formal learning time. You can sit at the table and do activities that correlate with your theme day. You can also start to add board games. On your color day, you can play Candyland or play with Play Doh. On number day, perhaps Cooties or High-ho Cherrio. Go for a walk and find all the things that start with the letter “J” or whatever you are on. If you are on the letter “B”, you could go outside and look for bugs. Use your imagination and play to your child’s interests. As your child gets closer to four years old, I suggest you have time where he is required to sit and complete a task. Do an amount of time appropriate for his age and his ability and work up from there. This is when you can really make your learning time officially a structured playtime part of the day.
This learning activity method is a super simple way to add some learning time to your day each day. It can be done is as little as 5-10 minutes a day if that is all you have available. If you have more time, you can easily enhance that to make it a substantial part of your day. Keep it low-stress and just enjoy watching your little one learn and grow.