The first step to training up your toddler is the realization that they are tiny little individuals with their own personalities. The best thing about toddlers is that at this point their minds are open and waiting for you as their parent to input information. At this point you can teach them practically anything but so many times we regard them as unable to comprehend so we talk to them in baby talk and keep everything extremely simple.

The studies that I have read show that babies begin learning in the womb. They know their mother’s voice and can feel their mother’s emotional changes. A toddler’s ability to learn and expand their minds is so much greater than it is later in their childhood. Like all of us they conform to their environment and get comfortable with the information they have been supplied and essentially their ability to learn slows down.

Actively playing with your toddler and sharing the names of objects and actions is the best way for them to learn. Giving them the name of the object or action and having them repeat is back to you is very important in language development and learning. This can flow over into teaching our toddlers responsibility from a very young age as well. We tend to think that they are incapable of understanding instructions when in actuality it is the best time to train them.

Toddlers can learn responsibility and do things like picking up their own toys and returning them to their proper places. They can put their clothes in the right drawers with the proper instruction or help to make beds or help to do laundry. Taking them with you while doing chores around the house and telling them what you are doing and why will help them to learn responsibility and including them in on and instructing them about chores is so important. I recall as a very young child my own mother would sit me on the counter and show me how to cook and bake. It came naturally to me as I grew older. She would also take me around the house with her and instruct me in the proper way to dust and do dishes, etc. It became a part of me and when I went out on my own I had no problem taking care of myself because of her instructions.

Reading to them from a very young age and teaching them their letters and numbers early on is a very important step in their educational growth as well. I remember when my first child was around one year old she loved a certain book and we read it every day. She got to the place very quickly that she could read the book by herself and turned the pages at just the right time. Everyone who witnessed it thought she was actually reading the book. This was only the beginning of a great love for the written word in this child’s life. There is hardly a moment when you do not see her reading something. This ability has given her an edge when it comes to education and she is excelling in every study because of her love for reading.

Talk to your toddlers about everything you are doing. As you run errands tell them where you are going and why. Show them how to compare prices at the grocery store and tell them what you are going to be cooking for dinner that night. The more information you give them the better; they are like sponges and will soak it all in. Share with them your feelings about things that are going on around you. In saying this I would remind you not to be to negative or show great partiality unless it is very important to you because they will in turn pick up these same ideals and dispositions.

The toddler years are far more important than many of us realize and they really do pick up so much at this time. Keep this in mind as you raise this precious little child and give them all the best information you can during these special years.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.