Intentional training through everyday life is hands down my favorite way to teach my toddler boy. I can safely say he’s learned more by doing life beside his mommy and daddy than he has learned anywhere else!
Children are always learning, especially little ones! They learn through everything they experience. Learning is not confined to the classroom or homeschool room. Learning is not confined to carefully planned activities and laminated printables. Learning takes place constantly for children.
Ideas for Learning in Everyday Life
I take my toddler grocery shopping with me as often as I can. We count the fruits and veggies as we bag them and name the colors we see. You can talk about hard and soft, fuzzy (kiwi anyone?) and rough just by walking around the produce section. As he grows, we can talk about the price of goods and money; we can learn how to check things off a list; we can search for letters throughout the store.
One of the things I’m doing with my two year old is allowing him outside the cart and walking beside me throughout the store. As we prepare for our second child in September, I can’t expect him to just know how to act outside the cart when our little bean arrives. We work on staying beside mommy, coming when directed, and keeping his hands to himself. With time he’s getting better! He’s learning good habits such as self control and obedience through training and not simply correction. Plus he loves feeling like a big boy!
As we work, if we’re cleaning the windows, we talk about the weather outside; we discuss the color of each sock as we load it into the dryer; we count the number of dishes we take out of the dishwasher. These are all teachable moments as your child learns to work alongside you!
As my boy grows, the chores become less “optional.” He’s now responsible for setting the table, feeding the dog, cleaning his room, and helping with laundry. Through these everyday learning opportunities, he’s learning good habits such as cleanliness and thoroughness. Plus he feels like a big boy! Did I say that already?
This is hands down my child’s favorite learning time! He loves to cook! As often as I can I include him in whatever I’m doing in the kitchen. Yes the mess is occasionally bigger, but with time he gets better at keeping it all in the bowl. And his smile and look of pure joy is totally worth it.
Some of the ways my toddler participates in the kitchen:
- cracks the eggs as we need them
- puts chopped veggies in the crockpot (or wherever I need them)
- stirs the batter for pancakes
- taste testing (his favorite part!)
- pouring measured ingredients into mixing bowls
- putting fruit in the blender for smoothies
As we work we can count, talk about colors and textures, and we can talk about flavors and smells. Cooking is a great way to engage the senses, and Thanksgiving Dinner always tastes better when a toddler prepares the stuffing!
Going to the post office is like going to Disney Land for my kid. He stands in line, holds the envelopes and thoroughly enjoys handing our packages over to the mail man. He recently discovered the land of P.O. Boxes! Turning the key to open our box is just amazing … and like magic! Don’t be afraid to take your child along to the bank, or to pay your bills. There are so many learning opportunities at each and every stop.
One of the things my husband and I are adamant about is including our children in our hobbies. Sometimes that means we put hobbies on hold; other times it simply means we lower our standards.
For example, one of our favorite activities as a family is hiking! We’ve been taking our little one hiking since he was just over a year old. The only reason we didn’t go sooner was because there was no where to go. But when we moved 1,500 miles across the country, the world of hiking in Colorado opened up. 🙂
The first few times we went out, our hike lasted for maybe 15 minutes, and that 15 minutes was TORTURE. But we kept at it and eventually Samuel learned to love the hiking pack and even found it so comfortable he’d fall asleep before the hike was through. You can read 7 tips for hiking with children here.
- biking (Samuel has both been worn on my front in a sleepy wrap and pulled behind in a chariot)
- camping (talk about lowering your standards! but oh so fun!)
- fishing (on the bank, worn in the hiking pack)
- snowshoeing (worn in a pack on Daddy’s back)
- road trips
Learning in everyday life is so fun!
What ways do you learn through everyday life with your children?
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