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Can A Two And A Half Year Old Work Independently?

I have a question about my two 1/2 year old son who is now going to a preschool. His teacher is telling me that he is not doing things independently, like he is expecting her to come to the toilet and he is not doing the activities they are teaching in the class independently.

They taught him two colors, but he is not able to identify that at the home. When I ask him about what happened in the school today he will say nothing happened and he will not tell me anything.

At home he is very cute. But sometimes he gets angry and He used to spit and shout.

I am bit worried, and I don't know whether I am exaggerating the problem.

Kindly advise me.

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Realistic Expectations For A Preschooler
by: Annie Desantis

It annoys me when preschool centers make comments like this to parents, as it simply makes parents feel there is something developmentally wrong with their child. But don't assume that the preschool is criticizing your child - they may simply be reporting how he is coping with the activities, or what stage they see his development at, they may not actually be meaning to imply he should be able to do things.

Please be assured, your little boy is fine - I most certainly would not be expecting a 2 1/2 year old to go to the toilet by himself, many children that age are a long way off being toilet trained, so he is doing very well to even go to the toilet. The pre-school may have some fairly rigid expectations about how the children should be learning and achieving, and this kind of attitude actually can hinder a child from exploring, learning and growing through play.

Children actually learn to be independent quicker if they have the security and encouragement. As they get more confidence at mastering a task then they are more comfortable trying things out for themselves. You may be able to encourage him at home to try more things for himself - sometimes we do jump in and do too much for our little ones, as it is much quicker to dress them, for example, than to wait while little fingers struggle with putting the right foot in the shoe, or getting shorts on the right way round.

You can help him to be independent in those ways, by showing him but letting him try things for himself. It doesn't matter if he got his shorts on back to front, tell him he did a great job of dressing himself. Ask if he needs help when you see him struggling, but don't jump in to fix something. Struggling and trying are how they are learning to do something for themselves. Making mistakes are really important, they are not a bad thing at all. Learning to try again and figure out what is wrong or why something won't work is really valuable learning.

He is right at the age for learning to recognize and name colors - sure some children learn that earlier, but many still confuse some colors at age four. He will soon pick it up, and it is really a very minor developmental task.

He is at a major stage of language development, and social interaction, and a big part of that is learning to control strong feelings. Angry two year olds are pretty common, it can be a very frustrating time, where they know what they want, but can't understand why they can't always have it. They are in the moment, having fun, and then get bossed around by big people all the time! It can be very frustrating for a little guy!

Part Two Follows . . .

Realistic Expectations For Preschoolers - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

He will be learning lots of physical things, extending his physical capabilities, climbing, jumping, running fast. His fine motor skills will becoming more dexterous, learning to unscrew things, wind something up, fit things together and solve puzzles.

You can read more about the stages of development he is going through on our Preschooler page. But just remember, all children are different, some do a spurt of physical development and seem to be meeting new physical challenges every day, and others might be more advanced with language. Some preschoolers seem to be spending all their energy coping with social relationships and figuring out how to play with other children.

Going to a Preschool is a huge milestone and there are lots of challenges with that. Don't underestimate what he is learning, the fact that he may still be confused with colors is really not at all important, there are hundreds of other things he is picking up and practicing that you (and sounds like the preschool!) are not aware of.

All children learn things at different times - the developmental milestones are simply an average - so there will be children at each end of the spectrum that are still perfectly normal.

Part Three Follows . . .

Realistic Expectations For A Preschooler - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Don't worry about him having to report home about Preschool. At this age they are in the moment, and by the time he gets home he is ready for the next thing. Help him to reflect on the day by asking simpler questions like, "Did you do some painting today?" or if he brings home something he made ask, "Tell me about this, how did you do this bit, or what color is this part of your painting?" Don't make it into a test though, just keep it fun and light-hearted. Even teenagers will say nothing if you ask them what they did at school today!

You can make a game out of it, and ask silly questions, like, "did you stand on your head today?" "No?" "Did you eat peas at preschool today?" Then when he is giggling you can ask things like, "Who did you play with? Have you got a special friend at preschool?" "Did you do any running and jumping?" "Show me how you can jump high!"

Kids are not mini adults, and their brain does not process things the way ours does. They are actually growing connections in their brain as they learn, that is why experiential play is so important. Being "taught" something is not necessarily a very useful learning experience for a preschooler. He should be having lots of free play experiences where an adult incorporates lots of language and encourages participation. You can easily build in color recognition by saying "everyone run to the red truck" Or "who can find the yellow ball?" Counting games, singing, rhymes and clapping games are fantastic at this age.

I am sure your little boy is doing just fine, just enjoy him and have as much fun with him as possible - he will learn so much more through fun, than through formal schooling!

All the best,
Annie D

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