Your Toddler & Preschool: What Are They Learning?
With young children, every age and stage sees major changes. As your child passes that first birthday and the toddler years begin, you will see huge strides in language development, social skills and intellectual capacity. At our toddler preschool, we design a daily curriculum that targets this age group’s unique needs.
At our preschool, our students range in age from 2 to 6, and we divide up the students into classes based upon their ages. We offer toddler preschool for our 2 and younger 3-year-olds, a class for 3 and 4-year-olds, as well as Pre-K classes for our older students that soon will be heading into kindergarten.
Our educational activities incorporate the teaching philosophies of Erikson, Montessori, Piaget and others. We also offer an abundance of STEAM-based activities, which include lessons that facilitate growth in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. These types of activities encourage problem solving, creativity and teamwork. Let’s take a quick look at some STEAM activities and lessons.
Toddlers are constantly learning, every day brings new knowledge to their developing brains, and they enjoy learning, especially when we provide them with engaging activities. We begin each day with circle time and this includes a brief discussion about the weather, which is just one of our many science activities. For toddlers, we talk about clouds and sun and rain and wind, and as they get older, we start talking about the water cycle and expanding our weather vocabulary.
Other science based activities might include planting beans and watching every day to see them sprout. We might collect leaves and create a collage or painting use these leaves. We might look at pictures of animals or bugs, and discuss their characteristics or perhaps utilize color-changing play dough for an activity. Our science activities incorporate all of the five senses and, during the toddler years, these students learn a great deal through sight, sound and touch, so it’s important to provide them with manipulatives that enhance this sensory learning.
Special events, such as a reptile show or bird show will introduce toddlers to different types of animals. Additionally, we can support our science lessons with carefully selected literature. We also host science fairs for the children, which is one of our most popular activities.
When it comes to technology, lessons for toddlers aren’t really about using computers or tablets. Technology is all about learning how to use certain types of tools, such as scissors, water droppers, tweezers, magnifying glasses and writing and art tools.
All of these activities will enhance your child’s fine motor skills, and we use “technology” to help us with many of our lessons. For a science experiment, a student might use a dropper to add drops of paint to different substrates to see what happens. We might use safety scissors to help with an art activity, a science activity or a math activity.
For toddlers, engineering is all about building, and we use many types of materials to create structures. We might build with blocks or create a structure out of sugar cubes with glue or perhaps create something out of clay. We might create a necklace or bracelet using dried pasta or beads.
While some schools stick with a STEM-based academic plan, at our toddler preschool, we firmly believe that the Arts are an important component for educational development. We can use art to teach science, math and language lessons, and using paint brushes, markers, crayons, sponges, droppers, scissors and other tools helps improve fine motor skills.
Additionally, art provides an outlet for creativity, and in today’s society, innovative and creative thinkers are needed for just about any job. Whether your child grows up to be an engineer, a teacher, a doctor or something else, their ability to think creatively will serve them well.
Art also incorporates music and dance, which benefits children in many ways. For instance, children easily learn through song, so it’s a perfect tool for any classroom setting. Dancing and playing an instrument also expend energy and provide a source of fun exercise. We even get parents involved and offer Zumba classes for the whole family.
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There are so many fun ways to teach math skills to toddlers. We can sort materials by size, color, material or category. We can work on number recognition with fun art activities and games and puzzles. Our toddlers can learn about different types of shapes and work on building patterns. We have 100s of manipulatives that help support beginning math skills, and the kids love them all.
Again, all of our math activities can be supported through the use of literature. There are an abundance of books that teach counting skills as well as shapes, symmetry, and basic math vocabulary. Obviously, using literature helps students develop language skills, but it also can be used to teach virtually and subject as well as fostering emotional and social development.
Learning Through Cooperative Play
Of course, not everything has to be structured. The toddler is just learning how to play with others, so providing time for free play is essential for youngsters that are just learning how to get along with others.
Free play, both indoors and outdoors, is essential for social development, but our staff also models positive behavior and cooperative skills. The students see us talking respectfully to each other, and we also treat each student with respect and kindness.
If you have a toddler, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Me do it myself!” or some variant quite often. While toddlers cannot do everything by themselves, this definitely is a time when they can become much more independent.
For instance, we have them help with clean-up activities, and this includes cleaning up centers and manipulatives once they have completed an activity as well as wiping a table after lunch or perhaps sweeping the area by the playground.
We foster eating independence as well, so they can learn to use forks and spoons correctly. We provide healthy meals with organic ingredients and encourage students to try new foods and to view mealtimes as both a nutrition break and a social experience.
Are Toddlers Ready For Preschool?
Of course, you might be wondering if a toddler preschool is a good idea for your child in general. For most 2 and 3-year-olds, preschool can be an excellent option providing them with a day full of fun activities that encourage a love of learning and exploration.
For children just turning two or children that deal with separation anxiety, it can be a be a challenge to start preschool, but there are some ways to make this transition easier. Spend some time away from your child and have them stay with several different caregivers.
Go to the local library and take advantage of story time so they become acclimated to sitting still for a few minutes and listening to another adult. Enroll in a toddler class with your child that exposes them to the experience of structured activities and social interaction with other toddlers.
Before your child has their first day at preschool, bring them in for a tour of the school and a chance to meet their teacher. Create a daily goodbye ritual that makes them feel secure, and perhaps place a picture of your family in their backpack that they can look at during the day if they are feeling insecure.
In general, most children adjust very quickly to toddler preschool. We do our best to make them feel safe and happy, and provide an assortment of fun activities to make their days pass quickly. We also provide parents with a live video feed of our school so you can check up on them at any time and get a firsthand look at their daily activities.
To take a quick look at our typical daily schedule for toddler preschool, head to the Nutrition & Enriched Programs tab on our homepage. Here you’ll find daily schedules as well as our monthly menus for breakfast and lunch. If you would like to know more about our preschool, you can click on the green Book a Tour tab on top right of our homepage.