Three-year-olds are naturally inquisitive and learn more by doing than being told how to do. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "your toddler will be able to follow two- or three-phrase commands, sort objects by shape and colour, imitate the actions of adults and playmates, and express a wide range of emotions." Understanding your child's needs and learning methods is the first step in beginning any homeschool program. In addition, consider your child's attention span, which increases four minutes a year. Therefore, an average a 3-year-old should have an attention span of about 12 minutes for any given task.
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Read to your child. Of any learning activity that you can do, experts agree that this is most important. The extension service at Iowa State University recommends the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer and the children's classic "Caps For Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina. Reading to your child will increase his vocabulary and, if you point out words with your finger, help him to begin recognising words on his own.
Count with your child. Pick out things to count with your child as you go through your day. Count clothes as you take them out of the dryer, count dishes and utensils as you set the table and count cars of a certain colour as you drive down the road. Begin with counting up to three at a time and as she learns, add numbers.
Answer your child's questions. Three-year-olds are naturally inquisitive and will ask endless "how" and "why" questions. When your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, try to find the answer. Even if you get the question, "Why is the sky blue?" explain that the light from the sun makes the sky look blue. Yes, this can lead to another "Why" question but remember, this is how a 3-year-old learns.
Sing songs with your child. Songs such as "Ten Little Indians" and "The Alphabet Song" will help your toddler learn that numbers and letters follow a certain order.
Play with your child. Age-appropriate games and toys will help your child learn. Stacking blocks, playing with a ball and building sand castles are activities that will not only help your child learn (if the block stack is not straight, it falls down) but also will encourage motor-skill development. Colouring is an activity that improves motor skills and teaches colours.
Tips and warnings
- At all times, be encouraging with your child. If there is a better way to accomplish the task, show her the correct way but in a kind manner.
- Do not take the average attention time as a mandatory number. If your child begins to show disinterest in an activity, stop. Do not force him to continue.
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