It is never too early, and never too late to start actively participating in your child’s education, but if there were a perfect age for it, it would be the toddler period. During this time, kids are still getting to know the world on a basic level, but are beginning to understand some concepts allowing you to help them get ahead of the curve if you put in the work and the patience.
18 – 36 months
Teaching about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters of the alphabet
This is why we were so excited to get a chance to review this product, which seems to fit the bill perfectly.
This kit is part of a Teach My series, which also includes the Teach My Baby and Teach My Preschooler sets. These are all-in-one, award-winning learning kits, which contain various activities that let you teach your child and play with them.
In this review, we focus on the ‘middle child’ of the series, most appropriate for kids between 18 and 36 months of age (it’s perfect as as a birthday gift for your 2-year-old boy or a girl). The kit itself, just like the other two parts of the set, comes in its own portable case, which is quite sturdy. Within the case, there are four sealable and self-contained sections, organized by subject. If your toddler likes keeping their stuff organized, this is perfect. Also, parents will appreciate the tidiness of it all. The kit also includes a teaching guide with ideas and tips on how to make the most of your child’s learning time.
In terms of contents, the Teach My Toddler kit has everything you might need to give your little one a great head-start in their education. As previously mentioned, it is divided into four sections, namely Numbers to Ten, Colors, Shapes, and The Alphabet. Each of the sections comes with various tools you can use to work with your kid and enhance their learning experience, and the sections may also be bought separately if required.
Once you get the sealed bags out of the case, you can start looking at each of the sections individually, and you’ll find that they all work based on a similar principle. This is not to say there’s not enough variety, as each of the sections provides a different level and type of challenge.
The Alphabet section, for example, contains fifty-two letters, two for each one in the alphabet, lowercase, and uppercase. It also includes a poster, a board book, four foam puzzles, and twenty-six flashcards, one for each of the letters. The foam puzzles are particularly engaging for toddlers, as they enjoy getting the letters to fit into their spots, which you can use as an opportunity to encourage some conversation about each of the letters using the flashcards, poster or board book.
The Numbers section includes pretty much the same list of props – puzzle, poster, board book, and flashcards, the difference being that the focus is on, you guessed it – numbers. Depending on their age, your child may already have some mastery in counting to ten or more and may notice pairs of things in the real world for example, but they are most likely not familiar with written numbers unless you had already worked with them regarding that subject specifically.
The sections focusing on Shapes and Colors both follow the same pattern, with the same resources, and these are most likely going to be your child’s favorites, again depending on some factors like age and personal preference, because the puzzles are going to be a lot easier to figure out.
As detailed in the previous part of the review, the Teach My Toddler kit is simple to use, with four sections all following a similar principle, which makes switching between them seamless. The main feature in each of the segments is the foam puzzle, or puzzles, which are meant to serve as the focal point in the play/learning process. Your little guy or gal is going to be interested in putting the correct shape, color, number or letter in the correct spot, and this is where most of the fun happens, allowing you to use the other resources included to teach them something about the respective subject.
For example, you may use the board book from the Shapes section to teach your kid about things in the world that are shaped like circles, or you may use the poster from the letters section to teach them about things or animals that begin with the letters they are trying to fit in the puzzle at that moment.
The section focusing on colors also includes a puzzle, but as you might imagine, it works a bit differently than the puzzles from the other three sections. While the puzzles in Numbers, Shapes, and Alphabet focus on shape, the one in Colors focuses on… well, colors (shocking, we know). But the way they’ve handled this to make sense in the form of a puzzle still is quite ingenious. The puzzle is set up in such a way that your kid is asked to match the detachable colored splotches with the appropriately colored crayon on the foam board.
More often than not, toymakers complicate things too much when it comes to teaching colors, using all kinds of examples from the real world, like fruit, vegetables, animals, etc. We feel that this way is more efficient and simple, focusing on the colors themselves, which is going to make it easier for a learning child.
The most obvious benefit of this set must be just how much it has to offer in the form of one package. There’s a nice little carrying case in which everything comes, it’s simple, keeps everything tidy and in place and it’s easy to clean and wipe with a damp cloth.
However, the four sections inside the case are what counts, of course, and that’s where you can make some judgment calls with regards to what you think is going to be easiest or hardest to handle for your toddler.
Most parents find that kids on the lower end of the recommended age spectrum – 18 to 24 months old, find best results starting with shapes or colors, and after only a week or so of 20-minute sessions each day, results become apparent. Many parents report that their toddlers, not yet able to speak in full sentences, were able to name all of the colors on the spectrum and put them in the correct spots on the puzzle after only a week. Your mileage may vary, naturally, but these are very encouraging reports.
With numbers and especially with letters of the alphabet the process is most likely going to take a lot longer, since there are many more, and their shapes are more complex, which is why we recommend leaving these two sections alone at the start and maybe only focusing on one section at a time. Once your kid masters Colors and Shapes, they will be a lot more motivated to tackle the difficult task of learning Numbers and the Alphabet.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any negatives to this product; it works as advertised, and it would be unfair to expect much more than that. However, we delved into some consumer reviews and found a few complaints from parents, that we thought were worth mentioning in this section of the review.
First of all, the colors may be a bit off, depending on the print, especially against the blue background of the puzzle, and some of the colors in the board book may look too similar, like purple and pink. Also, some parents pointed out that some of the lower-case letters like p, d, and b look the same and the only way to discern them is based on orientation, but it’s hard to see how this could have been handled differently in this type of puzzle.
Another thing that’s important to keep in mind is that this product is meant to be used under parental supervision, especially if your toddler is still teething since the foam pieces break off with relative ease, and if your child decides to chew on one, it could pose a choking hazard.
It would also be a good idea to laminate the flashcards if you want them to last a long time since they are made of cardboard and any moisture could cause damage.
All in all, we have found that this kit offers great value and variety, and if you have a toddler in your family, this would be a great gift to get them started on their learning path. Just make sure to spend the time with them as they explore, since this product truly shines only with parent interaction.