Teaching Toddlers at Home: Right or Wrong?

Lockdown… Quarantine… Pandemic… Work from  home… these are few topics on which you can talk to anybody in the entire world these days, because everyone is going through the same situation. I don’t think any other incidence has ever united the whole world this way ever before.

Anyway, coming to the point… we all mothers are going through a difficult phase. We are at home, a good thing, but everyone else is home too… mmm… can’t say it is a bad thing… but it is where the chaos starts. Many of us have work from home too. And if in addition to it, you are handling a toddler or a young kid, then I can completely sympathize with you. One of our biggest concerns these days is how to keep the child busy. And the other concern is about teaching toddlers at home. Kids do not want to study and we mothers are worried that kids are not learning anything.

In the communities and mommy groups, there has been a debate going on… should we teach young kids/toddlers or not? Actually few mothers post queries on how to teach, how to make the child write, asks for work sheets etc. On the other hand, few mothers ask why the mothers need worksheets. They advocate that we should not pressurize the young children to study, we should not burden them and let them live their childhood.

I completely second the opinion of the latter section: we should not burden the young souls. But should we not first define the burden? Google says that Burden means ‘a load, typically a heavy one’. Is study a burden? Yes, we should let them live their childhood, but are studies not a part of childhood? What is the limit beyond which studying becomes burden?

Baby girl coloring

Why I think We should Teach?

Have you heard the joke? An old man says that every child in America is brilliant, because even three years old speaks English fluently. Of course they will, that’s their mother tongue and they are listening to it since birth. Why would it be difficult for them? Same is our mentality. We think that studying is a burden for kids, but only we adults know that study is a burden. A toddler or a kid of 3-4 years does not know that study is a burden. For him, it is also an activity (if done the right way). Whatever you teach from the beginning and in a fun way, he will catch without being burdened.

I am sure that everybody knows the importance of physical exercises like walking, cycling, running etc. Why are these important? Because they help in keeping the body fit and healthy. If we lazy around all day and do not do anything, it will only make our body unhealthy which was otherwise healthy and could be healthier. Same is the case with our brains. Brain also needs exercises. Young brains have great potential. Kids are full of energy and curiosity. This is the best time to teach, make them understand concepts, make them learn new things.

Maximum brain development takes place by the age of 5 years. As parents, is it not our duty to bring out the best in them? They have to live with this brain for their entire life. We parents work hard to give them best clothes, best toys, best everything, then why not best brains, which is actually the most important asset. Here, by ‘best brains’ I don’t mean in comparison to others, I mean in comparison to themselves, the best of what they can have.

This definitely does not mean that I want my child to enter the rat race or I want her to stand first in her class. I am okay with anything. But I want to make her life a little easier. Is it not a fact that the one who has sharper brain will understand a concept more easily; is it not a fact that if she succeeds in what she is doing, she herself will be happy; is it not a fact that if she wants to pursue some specific profession, her sharper brain will help her getting there. I won’t push her at that stage, but should I not try to enable her as much as I can? I know that every child has her own capacities, but should I not try to increase her capacity as much as feasible. Better cognitive abilities will help her only in her future.

When mothers say that do not burden them, I understand. If the kids are young, we should not push them beyond their comfort zone. Teaching older kids is easier, because to them we can at least say that they have to do it, they have exams, they have to compete and so there is no other way. But the real challenge is teaching the young kids. Yes, we should not be harsh with them, we should not tell them that they have to compete. So the challenge is making it good enough that it does not seem to be a burden to them. If activity books and colorful worksheets are interesting and kids enjoy them, then why not? If they are enjoying and yet learning something, then why not?

Especially during this lockdown, practicing and revising is important because the kids will forget what they had learnt (they are very young after all). When the school reopens, the teachers will move forward and might not be able to teach everything all over again. It will become difficult for the child to cope up, then it will be a burden. So save your children from the burden, keep them in practice.

Now what is the right way?

It is very right that we should not burden the child, we should not put a heavy load on them. We should identify every child’s limits, comfort, and interests. We should consider their age and should not keep unrealistic expectations from them. We should try to teach them, but should not lose our temper if they fail to learn. We should not try to teach something to our kids only because some other child has learnt it. Every child has his own pace. What important is that he should keep moving, but let him move with his own speed. Don’t push him to run and take over his peers. It is absolutely wrong to compare your child with other children.

My 3 years old hates writing. Since learning to write is essential, I make her write a little every day. But if she feels sleepy, I let her go (though the sleep vanishes as soon as the notebook is closed). She starts playing with her pencils in between and I let her do that. I combine writing with activity books and she then enjoys it. This is what I mean when I say that keep your child moving but at his own pace. Teaching the child is essential, but we should not make it difficult for him.

Teach Age Appropriate

I have seen parents teaching very young kids the names of finance minister, health minister and others. I have seen kids memorizing the names of the capitals of different countries. I have seen kids thoughtlessly speaking tables. My question is: do kids really understand what does ‘minister’ mean, what are countries and what are capitals, what is the concept of tables? Do these young kids have to involve in political discussions? Do these kids have to give SSC exam? Then why to teach these irrelevant things to kids? Is it only to be able to boast in front of others? If you are occupying the kids’ brains, occupy them in more relevant and meaningful things. Teach them new words, help them identify new objects. Push their brains to think, to understand, to create, not just to cram things. Instead of making them memorizing tables, it is better to ask them to create a story.

Knowledge is different from Intelligence. Knowledge can be acquired at any time, at any age. So it makes sense to acquire only age appropriate knowledge. Focus more on developing Intelligence, Cognition and Creativity...

Conclusion

Teaching age appropriate concepts to young kids is very important and is the right thing to do. What is wrong is to put undue pressure on them, trying to make them learn something just to show off, comparing the child with others and pressurizing them to compete.

I know that the mothers who agree with me might face the confusion about how to teach without getting them bored. I have few ideas that I will share in my next post. Stay tuned.

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Also Read:

How to teach the child Alphabets, Counting, and Writing

How to teach Toddlers about Colors, Shapes, New Words, and New Concepts

What foods your child should eat to have a sharper Brain

How I keep my Child away from Junk Food

How you can improve your child’s Immunity

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