Guest post: Learning and Potty-Training: Both just a ‘Battle of the Wills’

by: Angie Knutson,

Knowing that I’ve been through the preschool years with three out of my four children and currently surviving them with my youngest, a friend recently asked me a question I’m often asked. She is trying to teach her three-and-a-half year old his alphabet, and he is showing disinterest. Even though she knows he is capable of learning the letters and their sounds, she is discouraged by the fact that he refuses to even try.

I experienced this struggle with my youngest daughter, Kylie, who is now almost nine years old. Unlike my oldest who was reading by the time she was four, Kylie was struggling to learn her letters at four and a half. I would see little scribbles on her art pages of letters and numbers, but when I would try to get her to practice these skills during our ‘school time’, I was met with resistance. Often, parents see the same type of ‘battle of the wills’ evident during the toddler rite of passage we call potty-training when it comes to learning the fundamentals of education. I’ll be guest blogging here for Fundanoodle this week offering a few tips and ideas that might help you to foster a fun and educational learning environment and ‘battle the wills’.

Today, we’ll talk do’s — positive reinforcement, flexibility and creativity. Wednesday, I’ll discuss some don’ts — comparing and stress.

Give praise.

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on your child’s personality. When you see your child displaying the skill that you are trying to teach them, give them some sort of positive affirmation. Determine what makes your child ‘tick’, what motivates him/her, and use that to your advantage. Giving praise is great not only to encourage the skill and behavior you are looking for, but also strengthen your bond with your child.

Be flexible with scheduling.

I struggle with this and we homeschool! Having a set aside time to do ‘school’ or learning activities is a great way to stay on schedule and remain organized, but you have to remember that children do not always function according to your time table. For instance, imagine you are struggling to get your child to write, it’s thirty minutes till bedtime, and your child asks you for a pencil to write Grandma a letter. Grab the moment! Don’t put him/her off! Take advantage of that moment. Sit down and help them write that letter to Grandma.

Turn their favorite toys and activities into a learning opportunity.

Be creative and make learning fun. I don’t know any child who is thrilled when they have to sit down and practice handwriting, numbers or letters. My three year old loves puzzles so I utilize that tool to teach him skills like counting, colors, and more. He has puzzles that have different colored shapes, so we talk about each shape/color and count the pieces as he puts them together.  It’s just a matter of finding out what appeals to your child, and being open to the fact that traditional teaching may not always be the answer.

What are some ways that you practice any of these three ideas? Do you have other ideas or suggestions? Please leave them in the comments below!


bloggers Angie and Jeremy Knutson of My Four MonkeysAngie Knutson is the mom behind My Four Monkeys (dad is her husband, Jeremy, both pictured at left). My Four Monkeys is a product review site for moms and dads, new parents, veteran parents, homeschooling families, Stay-at-home moms and dads, working moms and dads, families with pets, parents to one, parents to more, any and all. The Knutson’s have four fabulous kiddos — two boys, two girls all ranging in age from two years old to 10. Connect with Angie on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

This is part one of the two-part blog series: “When learning becomes a battle of the wills…”


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