You are probably used to your child asking you “what’s this, Daddy?” or some variation thereof.
You tell them it’s a spider and then you remember you have a tub of spiders in your house.
What about this, Daddy? It’s a teddy bear and he has nice big eyes and he has a little red and white heart on his chest.
It’s not a spider, Daddy, it’s a teddy bear
When you have a child, you have to adapt how you explain things.
In those early days, you might explain some things as if they are tangible things, in the world outside your house.
Like a spider is something that you can find in the back yard, but is actually nothing more than a bundle of legs and tiny wings.
I’m a fan of this because it allows your child to think in terms of things that are real, rather than things they see on TV or in a book.
Other things, you have to teach them
To get your child to appreciate things you have to explain them in a way that makes sense to them.
You have to explain that spiders don’t just jump out and grab you if they catch you by surprise.
You have to explain that teddy bears don’t just have heart-shaped eyes and that hearts can be for other things too, not just love.
You have to explain that when something is made out of paper, that it is not in fact just made of paper, but it has a special aspect to it that makes it different from other objects.
Paper can be made from trees, but those trees would eventually die if you just used the paper once and then threw it away.
These are things that are essential to understanding things for a toddler. If you explain them to them, they will remember the things that you explain.
In fact, if you explain everything in the world to your child, they will learn not only how to think about things but how to take things in their hands and use them.
When the child figures out how to do this, they will not just be able to use the teddy bear as a teddy bear, but they will have a core understanding of what that teddy bear is, and will have enough knowledge to take things apart and make things out of them.
So, the more you talk to your child about what things are, the more things they will be able to appreciate for what they are.
Where to start
This might seem like a hard thing to teach a young child. Maybe you don’t want to be explaining things every five minutes.
I don’t think this is a big problem if you give the child a few things to play with.
In my younger years, I used to work in a hobby shop and had an afternoon job where I sold cuckoo clocks, toy trains, and bicycles.
The first thing I would always sell to parents was a Fisher-Price road train.
This was a small-scale, outdoor toy train that had plastic tracks you could place around a flower bed.
It was bright red and had the distinct smell of plastic. I loved this thing.
In the toy section of my shop, I had all kinds of other small toys, but the road train sold like hotcakes.
This was because it was something new and exciting and fun.
You need to give your child enough things to play with that they can become experts at something.
This is your cue to start talking about things in the world that they can play with.
The things they are playing with must be relatively simple
That’s because, if they start trying to put things together with those toys, they will learn that it’s hard work, and you don’t want them to work hard.
This is another good time to start thinking of simple explanations for your child about the things they are playing with.
They should be able to understand things that seem out of reach to them.
Take the road train as an example. Maybe your child is only 3 years old. It’s a good age for them to be allowed to ride a tricycle around the garden.
But, why not take things a step further. If you have a garden, why not give them a tricycle to ride around in?
Give them a few minutes to play with this, but then when they are tired of it, have them sit on the back of the tricycle and take a look around.
Have them get up and try to reach for a dandelion in the garden. Have them look up at the sky. Have them try and stick a dandelion seed into a flower.
See if they can do any of this. If they can, they will soon be able to ride a tricycle around the garden. They will be getting familiar with objects.
If you start them off with these simple tasks, then you can give them a tricycle to ride around the garden and they will begin to understand that there are more things to get familiar with.
What to teach
When they are getting familiar with things, the next thing you will want to teach is when you give them something to do.
One of the most useful things you can teach a child to do is how to sort something.
Why? Because if you have a room full of toys, and you give one child one toy and another child another toy, they will do everything they can to play with the first one.
When they are younger, you can tell them that they must go back into the box where they came from and play with another toy.
They will not be in the middle of a big construction scene. They will not be spreading all the cars across the floor, just to mix them around.
This is important to teach your child. It gives them the skill of sorting, which they can use later in their lives.
You can give your child one type of toy. Then, once you have played with it and taken it out of the box, give them another one.
If they bring the second one in, you can ask them to pick it up and put it back into the box, without having to get frustrated or take the one they just picked up and put it in the box.