Best materials for your child to learn




Finding the right materials for your child Follow your child’s interests. Trust the Inner Teacher, present a variety of materials, and let your child choose what she is interested in every day. Watch for any new spark of interest in colors, numbers, shapes, words, science activities, or anything else; and make materials and provide experiences that allow a child to explore that area more. It’s a dynamic, fluid process. ‘Follow the child’ is the guiding principle. But where do you start with your child? I’ll give you a few suggestions for different ages. The Ages & Activities Suggestions that follow shortly show a progression of activities in each area.


Use these ideas to help you get started. Another way is to look through the activity photos with your child and let her choose which ones she’d like to do.  You will not have a complete preschool in your home with all the activities out all the time. You will need to experiment, try different activities, and use your child’s interest as your guide. This will be an ongoing process. Not every material you make will be a hit, and that’s okay.


The materials your child loves will make up for it.  Start with a Practical Life or Sensorial material. These materials are the foundation of early learning for 2 ½ - 6 year old children. They set the stage for the science, math, and language activities that follow.


These activities and materials: Build strong brain architecture  Provide a series of successes that build a confident self-image Help children learn to focus their concentration Support a young child’s drive toward independence Refine and educate a child’s senses Develop muscle control and coordination Develop abstract thinking skills Prepare the child for reading and mathematics Help children become participants in life instead of spectators Here are suggestions for starter Practical Life and Sensorial materials: 2 ½ - 3 ½ years Rice Tub Rice pouring Play Doh Pasta sorting Pink Tower Bead threading Mirror polishing 3-4 years Shapes lacing Binomial Cube Tongs & balls Keys & locks Water transfer Sorting coins Children 4-6 years old can usually work with any of the Practical Life and Sensorial materials that interest them.





See the next heading about the Learning Sweet Spot to help you see if a material is too easy, too difficult, or just about right.  Around 4, many children enter a natural sensitive period for learning about written language and mathematics. Observe your child for this and, when the interest is there, start the math and reading activities. The Learning Sweet Spot An activity in the Learning Sweet Spot holds your child’s interest and attention, and she will want to repeat it, even if she makes mistakes and does not master it right away.


These are always the activities you are looking for.  Activities that are too easy cause boredom and a lack of interest. Activities that are too difficult cause frustration. These are extremes to avoid, particularly frustration. A frustrated child may be turned off to learning activities for a while.  An activity in your child’s Learning Sweet Spot will be challenging enough that it takes some practice to master, and your child will stay motivated to master it without getting frustrated. The more you can keep your child working in this way, the faster your child will master skills and learn new things. The Learning Sweet Spot is the ‘cutting edge’ of your child’s development at any time. The key is to find materials that excite your child’s interest and focus his attention, and that he repeats using. When your child masters a material or skill, provide something a bit more challenging. Repetition is a vital part of early learning.





When a child repeats using a favorite material, brain nerve networks are created and strengthened. Repetition is essential for skills mastery and brain development. Allow your child uninterrupted time to work with favorite materials.


Sequencing Many skills are developed by mastering a series of progressively more difficult component skills. The Transfer activities are a good example. Starting with a whole hand grasp, a child moves gradually to a writing grasp over time.  Math and reading are more examples of sequentially developed skills.


Math starts with learning amounts and numerals 0-10, then 11-20, then 21-100, and on into operations with numbers.  Reading starts with phonics, progresses into sight words, and continues with early reading books.





Follow the activities in the sequences shown and give your child plenty of practice and repetition at each step. Nothing is gained by trying to move a child along faster than her natural pace.  The important thing is to stay in tune with your child’s natural patterns and rate of learning, and provide the next step when your child is truly ready.


Ages & suggested activities Children are all unique. This makes it impossible to give parents a fixed sequence of which activities to do at which ages. Always let your child’s interests and enthusiasm be your guide. The following suggestions are a point of reference.  Your child may be ready earlier or later than the ages shown for these activities. The materials and activities listed in each area are in a roughly sequential order of difficulty.


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