Learning Guide 28 – 32 Months
By Olynda Smith
The Terrific Twos
How are the terrific twos going at your house? While two year olds can be challenging for adults, this is an exciting time of life and it doesn’t have to be marked by battles of wills.
Two year olds can be busy, demanding and have an agenda that is all their own. They are also beginning to learn to express themselves and what they lack in clarity they often try to make up in force. It can be a tricky time. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to help your child see and feel that you are on their side. Here is some support to help you minimize conflict with your toddler.
One important quality that children begin to cultivate at this time is independence. Children this age love doing things by themselves. It takes skill, patience and foresight to support children while they develop independence. It is never convenient and supporting them often demands new skills from us as parents and caretakers.
The time you put in during this phase will strengthen the bond of trust between you and your child, help your child gain confidence and decrease power struggles. In many ways you are pre-paying for time you will get back later, when your three year old knows how to put on his shoes by himself, your four year old can set the table and your five year old can happily make their own snack.
Here are a few things to consider while you are supporting your child in their increasing independence.
Allow Them to Try!
As often as you can, respond to their interest in doing things themselves with encouragement. Let them know you are there if they need help. Let them try on their own as long as they wish with no interference from an adult or older sibling. It may be hard not to “help” by giving them pointers, or doing some part for them. It may also be hard to not communicate impatience or frustration with their process. Breathe and silently admire their attempts until they ask for help. If they are getting frustrated, offer help. But try not to interfere unless they are ready for help.
When giving help, attempt to give them the least amount of help possible. Look for where they are having trouble and offer guidance on that part. If you have time, model it for them. Then invite them to try again. If needed, do it together. Let them do everything they can on their own. Maybe you put the tab of the zipper in the zipper of their coat, but then encourage them to zip up themselves.
Everything takes longer with a toddler. When you expect that putting on shoes will take 15 minutes you can give your child the space to experiment and do their best. Budget lots of time for transition moments. Worst case scenario you show up early for something! The amount of time will be a moving target. Keep observing and you’ll know roughly how long your child will need.
Two Dimensional Matching
In the Olympic kit we introduced the idea of three dimensional object matching work. If you haven’t done any 3D matching work, it’s a great idea to start your matching work there! Once your child is comfortable matching exact 3D objects, they will likely be ready to move to the next stage of matching: matching two dimensional objects. This means matching pictures of things, rather than the things themselves.
Matching: The Foundation for Everything
For those who missed this information in our Olympic kit, here is a brief introduction to matching work.
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, and continues with your little one matching pictures of things that are also 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
You can follow these steps whether you are matching in 2D or 3D. Just make sure that you are using exact matches.
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 two dimensional items you plan to match in a container on your shelf. A small basket or tray is ideal. Take care to pick items that are exactly the same in every way.
Sit next to your child and take the basket of matching work off of the shelf. Investigate the toys that you are planning to match.
Pick up one object at a time and really deeply investigate it. You can add short phrases to help them see what you see. “I see a picture of an orange cat. It is sitting on a log.”. 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.