The Art of Teaching
Successful teaching is as much art as science. It requires watching the child's struggles and reactions carefully to make better decisions about when to present new material, and when and how to intervene. Parents who are too quick to extricate the toddler's ball from under the sofa deprive her of figuring it out for herself. On the other hand, parents who hang back too long may find that the youngster gets upset, gives up, and moves on to a less challenging activity, thereby learning to handle difficult problems by avoiding them together.
Sorting out a student's needs is not easy. Some toddlers become more easily frustrated than others. They may need a lot of verbal encouragement and require more hands-on help than calmer, more easygoing youngsters. Some toddlers are more independent. They may find verbal encouragement more of a distraction than a learning aid, and may become frustrated when parents try to provide hands-on help.
Never wrestle toys away from a toddler or say “Just a minute” while the youngster begs for his toy so you can do a demonstration. This kind of bullying isn't helpful to young students!
Toddlers will react according to their moods, too, so the student who tends to become frustrated easily may continue to work independently when feeling especially mellow. Independent youngsters may collapse into balls of helplessness if they're having a difficult day. Watch your interventions and your toddler's reactions carefully to determine when to step in and when to back off. If you find yourself saying things like, “You've been just playing all day. It's time to do
Ah, it would be so easy to move your toddler's arm or hand or finger to show her exactly what motions to make to operate a toy. But every toy is educational, so don't take the education out of the fun! Unless your child has a physical disability or is so frustrated that it looks as if she's about to give up, confine yourself to picking up the toy yourself and demonstrating. Then let your child tackle the problem again in hopes she can use her own mind to figure out how it works; for example:
How much pressure must be used to push the button so the buzzer will sound
How far to pull the string to make the doll talk
How high to lift the mallet to make the xylophone notes play
How to turn and position the puzzle piece to fit it into the slot
How to turn the crank to make the jack-in-the-box pop up
How to steady and balance the blocks to make a stack
How to create enough friction to make a toy car zoom across the floor
When it comes to playing with toys, avoid saying, “Do it this way,” followed by praise for doing it “right.” Save those phrases for daily living skills.
Crafts: Not for Toddlers
It is hard for toddlers to grasp the concept of “all gone.” For example, to a toddler, a peanut butter
Let her explore the empty peanut butter jar.
Try adopting her mindset and help her solve the problem by walking her through the steps: Hand her the peanut butter jar and a bread knife and let her work on it.
Be sure to also provide an emotional outlet by helping the toddler to express her frustrations. This can help her loosen her mental grip on the concept “Mommy's mean and won't give me a peanut butter sandwich” so she can learn, “I'm angry because the peanut butter is all gone.”
Remain on your toddler's side when discussing this mini-disaster, and say, “Where's the peanut butter? You mean it's all gone? No more peanut butter! But my baby wants some! Wait! I know where it is. It's at the store. We need to go to the store to get peanut butter for you. But what are we going to do
If you react to your toddler's upsets by becoming upset and angry, you may only confirm her belief that you are purposely withholding the goodies. You need to be patient while explaining (again and again), “It's all gone.” The combination of being allowed to look to see for herself and hearing a calm explanation will eventually help her realize that the problem isn't the parent's stubborn insistence on depriving her of what she wants.