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Child Development Tracker

Home » 2 to 3 »

Approaches to Learning

Supporting Activities

Daniel Tiger

Play doctor with doctor instruments you make yourself. Doctor Play


Sharpen your child's searching skills. Can You Find Gilbert?

Books for Your Child

Reading to children every day is a great way for them to learn new skills. Try these read-aloud concept books for toddlers.

Research shows that if children start school with a strong set of attitudes and skills that help them "learn how to learn," they will be better able to take advantage of educational opportunities. While some learning skills come naturally to children, others can be developed through a supportive environment.

Tips for building learning skills:

  • Let them choose.
    Give kids a chance to make simple choices, such as what to wear or what to eat for a snack.
  • Help them finish what they start.
    Children experience great satisfaction when they try and finish new things. Give them a bit of support when they need it, but be careful not to take over completely.
  • Nurture creativity.
    Encourage children to ask questions, try different ways of using materials, or offer them a wide range of new experiences.
  • Don't rush activities.
    Whether at home or in preschool, children need extended periods of time to really get involved in activities and to experience the "engagement" that is such an important foundation for learning.
  • Provide encouragement.
    All children start life eager to learn, but if adults are critical, that eagerness may disappear by the elementary grades. Look for achievements to praise and acknowledge your child's progress whenever possible.

Two-year-olds enjoy using their senses to explore the world, and can solve simple problems with the "trial and error" method. They will practice an activity many times to master it, and can complete short-term, concrete tasks. Their budding language skills and desire to learn prompt many "why," "what," and "how" questions. This year typically marks the beginning of pretend play, where two-year-olds experiment with familiar objects and situations to process their experiences.

Initiative, Engagement, and Persistence

  • Makes choices (e.g., food, clothes, toys, activities) based on preferences, sometimes in opposition to adult choices (e.g., child says, "No jacket. Want hat!").

  • Increases ability to sustain attention, especially when it directly influences an activity (e.g., repeatedly stacks blocks and knocks them down).

  • Completes self-chosen, short-term, concrete tasks. Practices an activity many times to gain mastery (e.g., repeatedly moves magnetic letters on and off the refrigerator).

  • Has a growing interest in and ability to perform routine tasks independently (e.g., puts napkins on the table before dinner).

Curiosity and Eagerness to Learn

  • Is able to participate in a broader array of experiences (e.g., exploring outdoor playground equipment, climbing on rocks, investigating contents of kitchen cabinets, paging through books), thanks to increased physical and cognitive skills.

  • May ask many "why," "what," and "how" questions about a variety of sights, sounds, and experiences (e.g., asks, "Why mommy cry?").

  • Continues to show enthusiasm and pleasure in daily explorations. Enjoys solving simple problems (e.g., successfully puts on own hat after several tries, then happily jumps up and down).

Reasoning and Problem-solving

  • Becomes more systematic in using language and physical approaches to solve problems, but may become stuck on one solution (e.g., tries numerous strategies for nesting a set of cups of graduated sizes, but may keep pushing harder to get a large cup to fit into a smaller one).

  • Continues to expand use of language to get help, but may refuse assistance even when needed (e.g., may say, "I need help!" when trying to get a little car into the garage, but then says, "Do it myself!" when help arrives).

  • Grows in abilities to recognize and solve problems through active exploration, including trial and error (e.g., tries to get a large pillow into a small container by turning it this way and that; eventually folds up pillow so it fits).

Invention and Imagination

  • Engages in simple pretend play with familiar objects and situations (e.g., puts doll to bed and lays blanket over her).

  • Expands use of objects, art materials, and toys in new and unexpected ways (e.g., takes bath towels out of a closet and drapes them over chairs, crumples up paper in interesting shapes when pasting onto cardboard).

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