Flashcards are a fantastic tool for learning, when used in the right way, in particular when it comes to toddlers. In this article, we look at how to use flashcards for toddlers, which flashcards we would recommend for parents to use and what to expect when using flashcards in an effective way.
Before we dive into which flashcards we would recommend, it’s important for us to understand first of all why we recommend using flashcards for toddlers and how to embrace the very active, explorative mind of a toddler.
At this age, most parents are fully aware of the proactive nature of a toddler. In fact, research shows the concentration span of a toddler varies between 3 to 12 minutes so, looking for new ways to entertain and keep the little ones occupied on a regular basis, inevitably proves to be a daily challenge. As a parent, we have the standard go-to’s for entertaining toddlers; parks and playgrounds, adventure parks and soft play, playdates, cooking, shops and garden centres, zoos and aquariums. These are all incredibly valuable for a child’s learning experience, however, they all carry at least one of two traits – they are either outdoors (amazing for when the weather is on your side!) or it’s time to reach for the wallet. When the days are either rainy or the entry fees start to add up, the ways for a parent to entertain their toddler are to become limited. The home naturally becomes the arena for challenging the parent to come up with fun ways to continually entertain their toddler.
One option in this instance, that many parents would prefer to avoid admitting, is to grab the remote and turn on the television. However, according to nct.org.uk,
“In the UK… they do recommend an upper limit of two hours per day for all children. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer suggests a ‘precautionary approach’ balanced against the potential benefits of using screen devices…. Increased screen time is linked to many health issues, like obesity and diabetes, as it encourages a more sedentary lifestyle. For example, one study found that children who used screens for more than two hours a day were more likely to have high blood pressure.
This advice is based on studies into children’s behaviour, health and development and, as the results show, parents have a duty to discourage children from persistent screen time as a way to entertain their child.
So, this leads us to why we recommend using flashcards. Flashcards are versatile tools, in particular when using flashcards for toddlers and of course those designed by Happy Little Doers; they provide a multitude of simple activities in each pack designed to help toddlers and children learn through play, whilst keeping screen time at a minimum.
Interaction and communication are a key part of development at any age, including toddlers. However, physical activities, on the whole, tend to be where a toddler thrives. So role-playing games are a fantastic way for a child to build confidence, explore new sensory experiences and gain new insights into the world.
Bearing this in mind, flashcards are a great tool for helping toddlers if used correctly, which is why we are so passionate about each pack that we develop within our flashcard range. Working with their proactive, inquisitive characters and, by using selected short activities to plan each task can be an extremely beneficial way in helping with a toddler’s development.
The flashcards designed by Happy Little Doers all feature an activity card, that is specifically designed to help parents/carers create short, effective, interactive learning activities that help them identify the child’s favourite way of learning through play. By using flashcards in this way, flashcards are not only good but a particularly efficient way to get the best out of a toddler’s development.
We, at Happy Little Doers, are huge advocates that every child learns at their own pace, and in their own way. One of the most common traits in young children is speech delay.
What is speech delay?
Speech delay is when a child does not appear to be developing their speech and language at an expected rate. This is a common developmental problem that affects up to 10% of all preschool children. The following table is a guideline of indications of speech delay at certain ages, as researched by John Hopkins University.
As mentioned, speech delay is a common trait in developing children, however, if you have more serious concerns about your toddler’s speech, then of course we would recommend discussing with a professional speech and language therapist or seeking medical advice. However, there are some activities that we can do at home to help improve a child’s speech delay
There are several things to bear in mind when looking to interact with your toddler. One of the most important things is that all toddlers have a much lower attention span in comparison to older children, at just 8 minutes before getting itchy feet! Now, this might seem obvious, but no matter what activity you plan on doing, it’s important to bear this in mind and even more reason to acknowledge that each child learns at their own pace.
What makes the Happy Little Doers flashcards particularly good for managing attention, is that every pack contains a versatile activity card designed to handle learning through short activities; whether this is for learning numbers, shapes, writing, or in this instance for speech delay – phonics.
Phonics teaches children the fundamental steps of reading and writing. More importantly, it teaches children the relationship between letter and sound recognition. So, in terms of helping toddlers with speech delay at home, understanding and learning about phonics is a good start.
The Phonics Flashcards by Happy Little Doers is a fantastic product for helping parents understand the complex world of phonics more easily, whilst helping their child develop both speech and language. Each pack contains an activity and instruction card (supplied with every Happy Little Doers flashcard pack), Sound Group Card, Pronunciation Card, Sound Blending Card, 25 Phonics Cards – single letter phonics cards and 7 Digraph Phonics Cards.
The design of the cards has been created to be used from toddler age upwards by using high-contrast, silhouette illustrations with bright block colours in order to minimise distraction but engage interest. The Sound Group Card helps parents to identify which sounds to focus on at each stage of development. It is worth noting that, the order of teaching phonemes vary between schools and teaching schemes, but the most common phonemes are generally taught first – s, a, t, p, i, n. There are 5 Sound Groups covered within the Happy Little Doers Phonics flashcards that focus on all phonemes and an introduction to digraphs (sounds made from 2 letters – ck, th, sh, ch, ng, nk and qu).
One common bad habit that creeps in, is a tendency to elongate the phonic sound. So sounds like ‘k’ becomes ‘k-uh’, ‘b’ becomes ‘b-uh’, ‘p’ becomes ‘p-uh’ and so on. The pronunciation card included within the pack acts as a guide to ensure parents teach each sound correctly. One quick tip to help your child focus on pronunciation that works for many parents is to rest your index finger on your chin, pointing towards your lips and correctly enunciate the phonic sound. Kids love new things being pointed out to them with enthusiasm (planes, animals, people for example) especially toddlers who are essential ‘sponges’ – so apply the same principle when teaching.
Finally, the Sound Blending Card is designed to help children start to read. Using the phonemes learnt within the first 2 sound groups, simple words can be built (use the high contrast, simple block letters found on the reverse of each phoneme card) and displayed on a table, shelf or within a flashcard holder to reaffirm each letter and start to connect the sounds. Words such as ‘sat’, ‘tap’, ‘pat’, ‘tin’ and ‘pin’ will become recognisable and build confidence in reading and, in regards to this post, confidence in both speech and language.
Picture cards for toddlers are another positive way of encouraging communication and building confidence in both speech and language development. Toddlers love to discover and learn about new topics. Popular topics that many parents will be familiar with include farm animals, zoo animals, dinosaurs, oceans or shapes.
Picture cards provide a foundation for learning new topics and help guide parents on where their child’s interests lie. Of course, simply showing a picture card to a toddler has its limitations, and it is likely that your child will lose interest if that topic is not stimulated. By not including any form of relevant activity, it can do the opposite.
Fact Flashcards – Many parents will at some point hear their child start a sentence by uttering the words ‘Did you know…’. Toddlers and young children not only love discovering unusual facts but sharing them too. Allowing children to express their knowledge, enables them to build confidence and seek out further opportunities to identify and share new facts.
Brain Games – Two of our favourite games at Happy Little Doers that happen to use picture cards can actually be found in one product; Memory Matching and Snap game. Using picture games not only encourages communication and fine motor skills but also improves memory recall speed and builds on language skills. Games requiring two players or more do far more for children’s development than they are given credit – building relationships and social skills, decision making and logic, mathematics and strategic thinking.
There are so many ways that toddlers can learn and absorb information. As we always say, each toddler learns in their own individual way. Flashcards on their own can be limiting which is why it is so important to work with them using activities and physical interaction. Toddlers have a limited attention span of only 8 minutes, so ensuring the activities are engaging and offer the right learning skills and knowledge is an important part of working with flashcards.