Tips for Toilet Training

Toilet training can be one of the most frustrating events in a child’s/parent’s lives.  There are several things you can do to make this a more relaxed process and help your child become successful.  If you have any other tips that might help other parents, or you want to share your toilet training stories please feel free to do so:

  1. Stay on a routine
  2. Remain with the child (take them to the bathroom, even if it is just to try)
  3. Wait until the child is physically and emotionally ready.
  4. Don’t be upset if your child regresses during the process, this is normal.
  5. Teach your child the words to use
  6. Be there to help.  Listen.  Put them on the potty.  Help with clothing and wiping.
  7. Have your child wear character underwear – they don’t want to dirty their favorite character.
  8. Create a consistent routine which can be followed at home and at school.
  9. Take your child to the bathroom before nap and bedtime or before any long periods where the bathroom will not be available.
  10. Talk to your child about how proud you are that they tried to use the potty, whether they were successful or not.
  11. Have a “no more diaper party” after they are trained.  Use extra diapers as hats and celebrate that special day for the child.
  12. Let the child tell you when he or she is ready.  Generally they will begin asking to use the toilet.
  13. Do not dress your child in restricted clothing such as overalls, bodysuits, etc.
  14. Make sure you are ready when your child is ready.  This is a big step and you need to be ready to let go when they are ready to try.
  15. Do not shame or get angry with your child when an accident occurs.  Reassure them that it is alright and then clean it up.
  16. Use Cheerios/Fruit Loops in the toilet for your child to aim at (boys)
  17. Use a blue liquid in the toilet so that your child can turn it green.


Most importantly, make sure that you are being supportive of your child and their efforts.  Your support will go a long way in making this a positive experience for your child.

Fun Activities for Learning Letters

There are many ways in which children can have fun learning their letters.  Below are some of the ways in which I have found that children enjoy this process.  If you have any other ideas that have worked for you please share them here.

  1. Use magnetic or felt letters or alphabet cards to sequence and match letters.
  2. Put plastic letters in a feel bag or box and let children guess shat letter they are feeling.
  3. Paint letters on an easel
  4. Finger paint letters
  5. Glue beans, noodles, cloth, cotton balls, miniature marshmallows, rice, or paper to make mosaics in the shape of letters.
  6. Build letters with Play dough, pretzel or bread dough
  7. Use letter stamps to sequence the alphabet or words
  8. Air write letters.  Use a dowel with colorful streamers attached
  9. Water paint letters on the blackboard
  10. Make letters with pipe cleaners
  11. Play alphabet bingo
  12. Play mystery writing:  take the child’s hand and write a letter with his/her hand while their eyes are closed.  Have them guess what letter it is.
  13. Cut out letters with scissors (great for building the muscles needed for writing)
  14. Provide wooden, cardboard, or paper shapes to build alphabet letters
  15. Use scrabble tiles to match letters
  16. Sort letters
  17. Play “go fish” with alphabet cards
  18. Fish for letters using a homemade fishing pole with a magnet hanging on a string.  Letter cards can have paperclips placed on them
  19. Make alphabet cards and cut them in half; have child match them.
  20. Have child match upper and lowercase letters.
  21. Find letters in magazines, books, on cereal boxes and other household items.
  22. Sponge paint letters
  23. Play “I Spy” with letters.  For example, “I see the letter x hiding on this page.” Then have the child find the letter

Write letters with your finger in the following items:

  • Cornmeal
  • Sand
  • Pudding (dry or prepared)
  • Foam soap
  • Shaving cream
  • Bird seed
  • Colored sand

Use masking tape or rope to make letters on the floor and have your child:

  • Trace letters with their feet
  • Walk or crawl on them following the path of the letter
  • Drive toy cars on them
  • Follow the shape of the letter by “painting” with a paint roller (free of paint of course!)
  • Roll them out with rolling pins
  • Hop or jump along the letter lines

Make alphabet cards for matching (visually or by touch) and tracing with:

  • Colored glue
  • Yarn & glue
  • Dry Jello & glue
  • Puff paint
  • Glue with sand, cornmeal, etc.

Write letters on:

  • Magna-doodles
  • Dry-erase boards
  • Paper with sandpaper under it


Helping Your Children Become Readers

Becoming a reader is not something that is going to happen overnight.  It takes several years for a child to amass the knowledge that is needed to become a reader.  Through these preliminary years there are several learning experiences that families can provide for their children to guide them toward becoming readers.  These learning experiences should be fun and entertaining so that the children will build a love of learning and reading.

It doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about building readers during the infant stage, but that is exactly where children begin their journey toward reading.  It is during this time that they are first exposed to books and language and they begin to build their knowledge about the world around them.  Families can provide experiences like those suggested by Reading is Fundamental (2007) below, which will enhance their understanding about language and literacy:

  • Read aloud to your baby for only a few minutes at a time.
  • Point to things in picture books and name them
  • Set aside at least one regularly schedule time each day for reading
  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs.  Rhymes help develop a young child’s ear for language

Toddlers show an increasing awareness and delight in reading books.  It is not uncommon for them to walk over to a book, pick it up and pretend to read it.  These actions should be acknowledged and the child should feel as though they are capable of reading to themselves.  This confidence will help guide them once they reach the kindergarten level of reading.  Families can provide experiences like those suggested by Reading is Fundamental (2007) below, which will enhance toddler’s understanding about language and literacy:

  • Read aloud to your toddler for as long as they are willing to listen
  • As your child learns to talk, ask them to point out the pictures in the book and say what they are
  • Make reading a part of your toddler’s everyday routine, putting aside time with them every day to read.
  • Take your toddler to the library or bookstore for story hour.
  • Continue to recite nursery rhymes and sing songs with your toddler

Once your child becomes a preschooler it is important to remember that they are still not quite at the age where reading begins.  They are still in the process of learning their letters (alphabetic knowledge) and the sounds that they make (phonetic knowledge) and how these combine to create words (phonemic knowledge).  This is quite a bit of knowledge for them to acquire during these years.  Here are suggestions from Reading is Fundamental (2007) which families can do to help guide their children towards this knowledge:

  • Encourage your child to join in while you read.  Pause and let them fill in rhyming words or repeating lines.
  • Ask open-ended questions while reading, i.e., “What do you think will happen next?”   “How would you feel if that happened to you?”
  • Move your finger under the words as you read.  This will help them connect the written words to the spoken words and will also develop their ability to read from left to right.
  • Begin teaching the letters of the alphabet, starting with those in your child’s name.  (See the article on ways to learn letters for fun interactive ways to work with your child on this skill)
  • Introduce concept books such as counting and ABC books
  • Introduce pattern books (those with rhyme and repetition, for example:  Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Lois Ehlert

In all of these activities it is important to remember that in order for a child to remember what they are learning they need to be able to attach it to a positive emotion.  By making it fun for your child you are providing that emotion and increasing their ability to retain the information.

Sandra Weyer, M.Ed.



Helping your child become readers. (2007). Retrieved from Reading is Fundamental:



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