Family Time Calendar: Get Smart - iVillage

Toddlers are eternally curious about the world around them -- wanting to touch, play with and ask questions about everything they see. How can parents to channel this boundless inquisitiveness into learning? Of course, toddlers don't need to be subjected to structured learning at such a young age. But with a little mindfulness, you can teach your youngster how to begin to recognize letters, numbers and colors in the course of everyday play. Here, the parents of iVillage - the #1 gathering place for parents online - share their tips for teaching toddlers in a relaxed, fun way.

"Kids often don't wash their hands long enough after potty, or playing, so we always sing the alphabet song while we 'wash.' My four-year-old nephew insists we 'sing while we wash' and even my 20-month-old imitates the alphabet song. You get clean hands and an alphabet lesson at the same time."

"To teach my three-year-old her colors and shapes, I use bath toys. We have foam bath toys in various shapes and colors. She just loves to play with them. Another great teaching tool I have found is her older sister. Now that she will be in first grade, she just loves to play school and teach little sister everything she knows. Sometimes I get to play too, but I usually have to be a student."

"Everything is a learning tool if you will only use it. With my son, when we play, we talk about the different colors and shapes of his toys and how many of them he has. We count and tell each other what color almost everything is. We read books, signs, and even what is written on the sides of his little cars. It's all a game and he is learning so much and having fun at the same time."

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