Learning Guide 24 – 28 Months

Learning Guide 24 – 28 Months

By Olynda Smith


Foundation For Growth

While we play, we can support our toddlers in the incredible work they are doing to understand the world and their place in it. Here is one technique that can help your little ones develop a strong foundation for all the work they are doing and all the work that is yet to come. 


Matching: The Foundation For Everything

Learning the concept of a “match” and honing the ability to create matches lays the foundation for reading, writing, and math work.  That may not be everything, but the ability to match does reach nearly all academic areas.  Here’s why: without the concept of a “match,” your child can’t match a sound with the symbol that makes that sound, nor can they match a numeral with the amount.  As adults, we take for granted that the one dot on the paper matches with the word “one” and the symbol “1.”  That correlation is essential to all reading, writing and math, which are essential to most other subjects. 


It is a long journey to get to the kind of matching described above, and it starts with your toddler’s ability to match objects that are exactly the same.  There are a few items in this box that you can use for “exact match” matching work. Look for the matches yourself for fun! We have also mentioned it in the materials guides if the material has some exact matches. 


How to Encourage Matching Work

One powerful technique for starting your child’s interest in matching is by modeling matching for them.  Make sure to speak out loud in short simple sentences so your child can hear your thought process. This is how it works:

Before modeling this with your child, place the items you plan to match in a container on your shelf.  A small basket is ideal.  Take care to pick items that are the exact same color and size.  Right now, items that are 3D are preferred, rather than pictures.  Start with only 3 pairs and work your way up to more. Always have a match for each item. 


Sit next to your child and take the basket of matching work off the shelf. Investigate the toys that you are planning to match. 


Pick up one object at a time and really deeply investigate it - turn it over in your hands and trace it with your finger. For your older toddlers you can add short phrases “Curved here, straight here, longer…”. Use only a few words. Put it down away from the other pieces that you have picked out. 


Show you are looking at the remaining pieces by holding your finger over each one.


Find the one that matches, pick it up and investigate it deeply, place it right next to the first one you picked up.  Make sure the two items are placed in the same orientation.  Say “These match!” while pointing to them.


 Repeat, make sure you pick some out that don’t match and after investigating and comparing say “No, these don’t match.”  


Do not be discouraged if your child seems to not be paying attention to you.  They may not be interested in trying it themselves.  They are absorbing this information even if it doesn’t look like it and will start trying it themselves when they are ready.  Just do this every once in a while and they will likely start copying you. They may wait until you are busy doing something else or they may want you to watch. 

If they are matching incorrectly you may feel the deep urge to correct them - resist that urge!  It is counter-intuitive, but being corrected can discourage them. Continue to model it correctly at least a few times a week and most children will self-correct themselves.  Do not fret if they don’t self-correct at this age. Just keep introducing this idea.  


Extend The Lesson

As your child gets familiar with this concept of matching, you can create new opportunities for matching out of household items.  Gather exact duplicates of any items that are safe for them to handle in a basket. Leave that “matching basket” out for them to explore, and continue matching them yourself with the process outlined above. 


If you want to make it really fun, keep changing the objects every week.  Some ideas are socks, toddler utensils, other blocks, candles, pacifiers, or cups. Note that most shoes are not exact matches because there is a “left” and a “right” shoe. Of course, make sure the items are not choking hazards.  Avoid putting food in the matching basket - if your toddler eats one then it won’t have a match!  For now, make sure that everything has a match.


Another great way to reinforce the concept of matching is casually mention that things match as you encounter them.  For example, as your child is eating those yummy toddler snacks if two or more are exact duplicates, hold them up and say “These match!”  You may find your little one noticing matches all over the place.  

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