Learning That Happens Every Day

Toddler learning

Reader Question:

“When should I start getting serious about my daughter’s learning? She’s 7 months now and we read to her and name things, but we’re very casual about it all.”

My response:

You know, I never really thought about when Immy would start learning. Learning is just something that happens for us, everyday.

From birth, children are learning. Children learn despite of us. Oftentimes, they even learn things we don’t want them too!

I think our learning to date (Immy is now 25 months old) would read like a commentary of our everyday life. We simply do things together, talk about what we are doing and notice what is happening around us. Sometimes we read together, sometimes we create together, oftentimes we are doing chores together but always our learning is playful, Immy doesn’t actually know we are learning.

What are the most common components of our everyday learning?


We read together every day and not just at bedtime but throughout the day. Dad 101 reads to Immy every day too. For more about young children and the importance of reading, check out this post – Growing Kids Who Read.


We have time for play every day. Sometimes this is play together, sometimes Immy plays alone. Whenever we can, we try and prioritise Immy having some play time with her Dad each day too, even if it is just 15 minutes before bathtime. As Immy is an only child, I also try to ensure that we have regular play dates with other children too. Children learn through play – alone, with peers, with interested adults. Sometimes our play is imaginative play, other times it is more constructive. We dress up but we also do puzzles. We build with blocks and we play simple games.

For more about learning through play, please visit these posts – here, here and here.


I try and ensure that Immy plays outside every day. Fresh air, physical activity, learning from the natural world (water, sand, soil, plants) – these are all important to our everyday learning too. Why? Read this post, Nature’s Playground at Home, which I wrote a little while ago for Mumblers to learn more.


I/we notice and talk about everything. And I ask a lot of questions. Questions about colours, shapes, numbers, where things are, what things look like, where we are going, what we will do, what we have done, why?

Oh, and I play dumb quite a bit and Immy is always willing to step in with the answer.

Yes, we count out loud and we sing the alphabet but it’s all just in good fun.

We talk at home, in the car, at the shops, at the park, watching Playschool, wherever we are. Through talking, questioning and sharing, Immy is learning about the world, including lots of new concepts, and she is learning to express her own ideas and theories.


As Immy gets older, I am making a conscious effort to encourage both self help skills and involvement with household tasks. Simple things at the moment, like wiping her own nose and putting her dirty clothes in her laundry basket, I think these are important skills to learn both as an individual and as a member of a family.


We play music (albeit, most often The Wiggles) everyday. We dance and play tambourines.

We ‘make’ most days. Whether it be drawing, painting, pasting, taping, playdough, baking.

These types of sensory play experiences are essential to young children learning and developing. Research is revealing that sensory play experiences help children develop pathways in the brain, less experiences = less pathways, more experiences = more, thicker, well developed pathways that provide the basis for more complex learning still to come.

And that is about as serious as the learning gets in our house right now. No flash cards, just fun learning through play everyday. And I can’t see it changing anytime soon. There is plenty of time for more formal learning, and with at least thirteen years behind a school desk, I think home will stay a place for fun for as long as possible.


  1. We have a similar approach to learning in my house. I just wanted to add that with my older son (who is 4) I occasionally had some thoughts like lets do some colours or numbers or whatever (above and beyond times I might naturally talk about colours). But he is very resistant to that method – when he is interested in colours he asks me about them, not the other way around

  2. It sounds like a lot when you put it that way, but I find it just kind of happens. Kids are so interested in everything and I love that playing is their form of learning.

  3. SquiggleMum says:

    It's funny that L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G has become a heavy, serious issue that parents worry about. I think it's a mistake to assume that learning requires teaching as such. Young kids learn best through play, not through parents deciding it's time to get serious about "teaching" them something. The learning flows out of the play.

    When does learning start and finish…? I have been learning since birth, and plan on being a life-long learner!

  4. Sherry and Donna says:

    I think SqiggleMum is spot on!
    Donna 🙂 🙂

  5. One of the most interesting comments I ever heard was from a homeschooling mom who said they don't have "school time" in their house, that her family uses every opportunity to learn and that you don't start learning when the clock tells you and stop when the clock says learning time is done. She was actually talking in the context of the State of the Union address, saying that she had watched it with her 7-year-old twins. I don't homeschool but have always liked that perspective, that it's important to remember that learning doesn't have a schedule but is always happening.

  6. iwonderbee says:

    I would like to provide a perspective from a country that is well-known to be academically driven even from preschool age (read: 3 years old). I'm from Singapore, and have been following your blog awhile from a link from Leonny's Our Everyday Things.

    I constantly get asked by well-meaning friends why I am not sending my 3 year old to school yet. I don't because I would like her to enjoy one more year of free play in a home environment before needing to get down to serious stuff. From a kindergarten readiness perspective, my choosing not to send her this year means that next year when I actually do, I must send her in prepared; knowing her letters, numbers, knowing how to read, knowing how to write.

    This is honestly, scary for me. Even though I myself dislike that children are being asked to complete worksheet after worksheet at the tender age of 4, and I have been told that children are asked to bring home more worksheets for homework(!!) that requires the parent to sit and work through with the child…it is unfortunately the way the system is, and like it or not, if I do not want my child to be shocked by the expectations of the system when I enter her into preschool, I have to start preparing her.

  7. I found you through SquiggleMum (love that TeePee BTW!) and this post says it all for me. Thanks for a great blog 🙂

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