What should my two year old be learning?
April 19, 2007 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Help me find learning objectives/goals for young children (3 years old) and help me find games to help!

I've been digging for a while on the 'net to try to find some general objectives / standards that children should be able to do / know as the grow. My son is currently 2.5 and I'm just wanting do whatever we can to help him learn. We try to do a lot of fun activities and be creative, but I that we had some outline of development changes and things that he should be able to do, and things that he should be working on.

I remember seeing something like this that was some how related to Parents as Teachers, but after much poking on their website, I wasn't able to find anything. So...

(1) What are some resources, whether they be websites or books?

(2) Is there a specific term for what I'm looking for? Meaning "education objectives" or "developmental standards"? I tried searching, but didn't find anything specific and helpful

(3) Are there any good education computer games that are worth the money? My son loves to play on the computer, but random flash games aren't teaching him anything. Help!

posted by peripatew to Education (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The best advice I can give you is: play to their strengths. Kids are REALLY good at telling you what they're interested in. Listen.
posted by unSane at 9:11 PM on April 19, 2007

We bought this for our kid at a clearance sale. She's too little for it yet, so I can't give a recommendation, but it or something like it might be useful to you.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:14 PM on April 19, 2007

You may be interested in the information on cognitive development here (especially the learning/play links at the bottom of the page).
posted by YamwotIam at 9:40 PM on April 19, 2007

Hello peripatew, (that is a beautiful name btw)

I have twins 3 years old and I have been extremely happy with "The giant encyclopedia of science activities for children 3 to 6". Ed. Kathy Charner. It is an amazing book with experiments you can easily set up at home and outdoors that are both fun and pedagogical. The point is that they are play, so they attract the kids while teaching them how to observe and reason. I admit to liking it too much myself.

Another observation I have made is that kids respond extremely well in any kind of activity as long as you engage them -talk to them, explain, ask questions, joke, direct. I do that while cooking or during chores at home. Give them money to pay the cashier themselves, hand them the clothes to put in the laundry while explaining why colors bleed, or ask them to press the elevator button to go up or down --mine get a kick out of that. That sort of thing. Basically, they just love being addressed to like adults.
posted by carmina at 9:50 PM on April 19, 2007

I highly HIGHLY recommend reading anything (kids books are best) every day for at least a half hour. You will be teaching your child in so many areas and starting him on a path to becoming a lifelong reader.
posted by thedoctorpants at 10:24 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

At 2.5 the computer isn't teaching him much, except how to stare at a screen. The real world is much more important right now, especially the sensual natural world with all the awesome smells and funky textures. He should be learning the world is full of wonder and fun and love. Everything else is gravy. Read a lot, talk a lot, laugh a lot. My favourite activitity with my toddler is napping ~ they have so much energy!
For resources, ask your childrens' librarian at your public library, look for toys at your independent toy shop (you might want to google montessori materials - the sandpaper letters always impressed me), local homeschooler/afterschooler groups - some start young! I like the book The Well-Trained Mind, it covers preschool as well as older children in terms of what the authors think children should know/do at different ages - plus a huge list or fesources. Obviously there is a lot of differing opinions out there. Jean Piaget has some widely accepted ideas on the stages of cognitive development.
posted by saucysault at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2007

there is something called the Denver II scale, which your pediatrician probably has a copy of.

it has age on one axis and several different tasks/abilities grouped into language/social/etc groups. each task has an age range, with the 75th percentile age marked. its certainly not exhaustive, and is really geared to the 0-2 year range, but its still interesting to look at.

you might ask your pediatrician if there is a similar scale that's more focused on the 3-6 year age range...
posted by joeblough at 10:28 PM on April 19, 2007

oh, there are two pretty good computer games that my 3 year old and 6 year old enjoyed: ollo and the sunny valley fair, and moop and dreadly: the treasure of bing-bong island.

they are both basically the same game - a little adventure game where you have to run around and get objects together to solve puzzles and help the other characters in the game with their problems.

even better, they are pretty old games and so can be had pretty cheap on ebay.
posted by joeblough at 10:33 PM on April 19, 2007

My parents bought me a little tape recorder with a microphone and encouraged me to record my own bedtime stories to listen to at night. This was great for me because I felt like I had an audience while I was telling the stories and felt very self-sufficient because I was making my own fun, and great for my parents because I was a terrible sleeper and remember annoying the crap out of them in bed when they were trying to sleep. A win both ways and I have fond memories of that recorder. My sister and I used it up to when I was about 12 to record nonsensical comedy sketches.
posted by crinklebat at 10:43 PM on April 19, 2007

Do you have a toy library run by ECEs in your area? I go to the local toy library and get recommendations on great toys (which I borrow for free). I can ask questions and get information about activities. I also borrow super books on child development. I just finished Me, Myself and I, which had great information on the development that goes on from 18 to 36 months. Perhaps get a copy of that. I'm a follower of play-based learning.
posted by acoutu at 10:47 PM on April 19, 2007

Three? You are overthinking this. Let a three year old play. Read books to them, teach them a few numbers, whatever. However, jump starting their academic careers at this age pays no long term dividends.
posted by caddis at 5:17 AM on April 20, 2007

If you're looking for something that is prescribed for a preschool program, the magic jargon word is "pre-k curriculum framework". A word of warning, having had to review and align curriculum to parts of the Massachusetts curriculum framework, the MA state frameworks were inconsistent in quality, and parts of them (notably technology) sucked and were clearly written with an agenda that had little interest in the student.
posted by plinth at 6:33 AM on April 20, 2007

Learning simply happens while the child is playing. As someone said before, they're very good at telling you what they want to play with, so just listen to them and you'll know what resources they need to expand their interests. Your job is to provide resouces, NOT to set objectives. They'll only learn what they want to learn. "What 'should' they be learning?" is not a productive way of thinking.

Feed their interests. For example, my 26 month old son is fascinated with dinosaurs for the past 3 months. I initially found it strange because I thought that type of interest would develop later (as I remember, I was into dinosaurs when I was 5 or 6). He loves the Jurassic Park movies (no, they don't scare him for some reason), and we took him to Target to purchase some toy dinosaurs, and also found used copies on Amazon of the Land Before Time dvd's (more age appropriate than Jurassic Park, for sure) and the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs dvd's. About 4 hours of his day is dinosaur time right now (watching a dvd while lining up his toy dinos to re-enact what's happening on screen in his own way), and he carries his 6-inch plastic T-Rex around the house constantly and even to bed.

We've done nothing to either encourage or discourage this. We simply listen to him and give him what he wants, since he's the expert at being 26 months old.

You'll find tons of info here. Look at the Learning section in the left column.
posted by Bradley at 6:41 AM on April 20, 2007

Here's what we did. By the time he was to start kindergarten, we made sure he knew the following.

-Count to ten
-Phone number
-Full Name
-Sit still and quiet while being read a short story

Of course, there's lots more, but these are the things they need to know to be prepared for class.
posted by kc0dxh at 6:59 AM on April 20, 2007

I'm seconding The Well-Trained Mind, but I'm going to advise you to check it out from the library, as opposed to checking out the website. Reason being: I'm responsible for the website, and we haven't updated it in forever.

That being said, you might find the Well-Trained Mind Message Boards (http://wtmboards.com) to be helpful. They're aimed at homeschoolers, but everyone there is highly involved in pedagogy and childhood development.

Disclosure and all that: This should be obvious, but I'm involved with both sites.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:01 AM on April 20, 2007

You might want to check out some Montessori learning goals for preschoolers. Montessori programs encourage children to become self-sufficient and confident. There are a number of books which cover Montessori learning at home for preschoolers.

There are also videos on YouTube which cover Montessori learning.
posted by jeanmari at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2007

Ah, here is the preschool lesson book for Montessori that I was looking for.
posted by jeanmari at 8:38 AM on April 20, 2007

I was at my early years centre playgroup today and noticed all the age-appropriate toys and activities were referencing the Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS), a developmental screening tool.

The Screen explores a child's skills in the following areas: vision, hearing, speech, language, communication, gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, social/emotional and self-help [at thirteen key developmental stages].

It is free via web or email to Ontario residents, i'm not sure about other areas. It was really good with excellent suggestions for parents.
posted by saucysault at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2007

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