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:
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).