Which toddler-learning program is the best option for your two-year-old? If this is your first experience with early childhood education, take a look at what parents need to know about toddler development, learning programs, and the questions to ask before you select a center.
What Is a Toddler Development or Learning Program?
This type of early childhood education program is exactly what the name sounds like. The program should help toddlers (children ages one to three years) learn basic skills and build a foundation for their future education. Specific activities, curriculum, or content may vary from program to program. But it should meet the developing toddler's needs and may also focus on areas outside of academics (such as emotional, social, and physical development).
Where Can Parents Find These Programs?
Parents can often find toddler educational and development programs in private preschools, daycare centers, and other similar early learning environments. When you contact or tour a child care center or early education school, ask the director or lead staff member about age groupings. If you prefer your toddler to have an educational experience with like-aged peers, the center should have a toddler or two-year-old class.
How Can the Program Prepare Toddlers for Kindergarten?
Your two-year-old is at least three years away from starting kindergarten. But this doesn't mean they can't prepare for grade school right now. A toddler-learning program with a school readiness component can help two-year-olds to build the foundational or basic skills that they will need in the elementary years.
These skills may include academic and developmental content. Academic skills for toddlers won't look the same as they will in grade school. Instead of lectures and tests, your child will engage in hands-on, interactive learning explorations that help them to develop early literacy (reading, writing, language, and communication), math (numbers identification, geometry, and measurement), science, social studies, and art skills.
Along with the academic types of skills, a toddler education program will also prepare your child for the social, emotional, and physical challenges of elementary school. The group setting provides the perfect environment for young children to meet new friends, learn how to share, take turns, and build other age-appropriate social skills. They will also start to learn about emotions, identify these feelings, and practice control or regulation.
What Questions Should You Ask About a Toddler Program?
The questions you ask depend on your family's educational beliefs and the goals you have for your toddler. If you're not sure where to start, ask the program director or staff member to describe the learning experience for you. This should include a general overview of the curriculum and examples of the daily toddler room schedule or activities. You may also want to ask about the teachers (experience, education, and background), health policies, and meals/snacks.
Contact a local toddler-learning program to learn more.