When my toddler randomly said, "I'm Wilhelm," I was a bit surprised as Wilhelm is his middle name, and I didn't teach him that yet. After I pondered over whether or not my child was just a genius or not, I realized that I had taught him his middle name. Like many moms, when my children are being particularly ornery, I break out the big guns, and use their full name in that can't-ignore-it mom tone. My little Torsten Wilhlem hears his full name on a pretty regular basis, being of a loving but contrary disposition.
Why would you want your toddler to know his/her full name?
On average, 2,185 children are reported missing each day. I recall the first time I found a young child separated from his parents at the grocery store. When I asked him where his parents were, he couldn't tell me. When I asked him his name, all he could tell me was his first name. He didn't know his mom's name, or his dad's. All the store could do was announce they had found a little boy named "Steven" who looked about 4-years-old. In any case where a toddler is separated from their parents, information such as their full name, address, phone number and parents' names can make a big difference in how quickly they are reunited with their families.
How can you help your toddler learn his/her name, address and phone number?
Use them. The first and easiest step to help your toddler learn vital information such as their last name, parent's names, address and phone number is to use them. I doubt I'm the only mom who rarely says her child's full name to them outside of when they're in trouble. Try to work things like your last name, you and your spouse's first names, your phone numbers, and your address into everyday conversation as often as possible. The more your child hears these pieces of information, the quicker they'll pick them up. As an example, when you're filling out forms or envelopes, you could read aloud what you're writing and let your child watch you write the letters and numbers. Ask them questions as you go, such as, "what numbers are these?" It can also help to have this information posted in your home. You can then read it often and have your child begin to learn how to read it as well.
Sing them. The alphabet was made into a song for a reason. Music is almost always an effective learning medium for young children. You may find that your number fits well into the tune of the alphabet song in fact. In any case, simply take a tune your toddler knows already, and likes, and then fit whatever information you're working on into the tune. Be sure to encourage your toddler to sing with you and not just listen.
Play them. Lastly, you can find ways to fit vital information into everyday play. An old phone and some pretend telephone play for instance works great for phone numbers. On the drive home, a game of I-spy with street names or house numbers can work well for addresses. For full names, you can do art projects built around the information. Teaching while you play is just a matter of using a little imagination.
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