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Should My 2-Year-Old Know Her Letters and Numbers Yet?

by | Jun 28, 2023 | Ask Dr. Jody

What a great question! While it may be a few years before your 2-year-old is reading and doing math, there are some really important foundational learning skills being developed at age 2 that are critical for later success.

The Short Cut

  • 2-year-olds are learning fast and may start to learn some letters and numbers, but it’s not necessary at this age! Don’t worry if they don’t know them yet.

What 2-Year-Olds Are Learning

In terms of language and literacy, 2-year-olds are working on vocabulary, background knowledge, and pre-reading skills like how books work. They’re also beginning to understand that words on a page represent ideas and images, and that words are constant and convey meaning. There’s a large body of research demonstrating the importance of talking, singing, and reading to your child from the earliest ages, and your toddler will continue to benefit from these activities.

Although every child develops differently, most 2-year-olds should be using at least 50 words and using two-word phrases when speaking. If you’re ever in doubt about your child’s development, you should speak with your child’s health care provider.

In addition to learning and using more words through play, toddlers can learn early math skills through play as well. For example, while your toddler is stacking blocks, you can ask them how many blocks they have (object counting, which may not be present or very accurate yet), which ones are bigger or smaller (size comparisons and measurement), and which ones are on top or behind (spatial reasoning). If they haven’t learned these skills yet, demonstrate them yourself—they’ll likely start to mimic you eventually!

This kind of learning through play can be a lot of fun for you and your child. It’s adorable and exciting to watch your 2-year-old count their blocks “One, two, two, four, nine,” and the smile on your face when they do will encourage them to keep experimenting with numbers and math as they grow.

More about Milestones

To discover more about what your 2-year-old is learning, explore our guide to 2-year-old developmental milestones. And to see the ways in which Begin can help your child develop across the 5 C’s that help kids thrive in school and life, check out our Early Learner Bundle.


Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos
Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos

Chief Learning Officer at Begin

Jody has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science and more than a decade of experience in the children’s media and early learning space.