Babies this age are more “right brained” – they need to be, if they have to learn to understand people, interaction and express themselves. At this age, perception rules. They are constantly absorbing things they are exposed to, and this particularly holds true for language and mathematics. They can understand entire words or quantities as images, and comprehend them enough that a quantity expressed in different ways, or a word written in different fonts/handwriting is quickly identified as the same quantity or word.
All this is happening even before they learn to speak.
Our current ways of teaching children begin well after the child learns to speak. Children learn to read in school, by when they have already moved beyond the formative years when they can grasp these things intuitively and effortlessly.
As more and more parents discover the value of early orientation to fundamental skills, methods which enable such learning to be fun are becoming popular. Flashcards, story books, sign language, DVDs and such resources add value and maximise ease of use. This also directly results in you being able to be consistent and persistent with your efforts.
Two such programs are from Brillkids – Little Reader and Little Math. They literally take out all the guesswork and tedious labour needed to constantly create learning resources and present them correctly. They have trials for download on their site, and I must say I’m hooked!
The only sorrow is that they don’t work on Linux, which is what my machine is, though I have a little used dual boot with Windows on it, which should be working (at least it worked a year ago). However, if you have a Windows computer, there really is no excuse for not checking out the trial versions of both of these. The trials are free. And if you wish, you can always buy. (aff. link)