When I had my first child, the educational mentality I had was pretty much wanting her to know as much as she can. I tried the “Teach your baby to read” thing but it didn’t quite work out, mainly because I wasn’t disciplined in following the instructions! I had those Chinese flash cards which were used more like loose parts play than actual flashing of the cards. It was, and I think, still is common for parents send their baby and toddler to right-brain training classes. It wasn’t in any of my consideration because it was just too expensive!
Fast forward 7 years later. My view of teaching children and how children learn has drastically changed. I can’t quite put into words how it has changed but now I strongly believe in the value of play, especially for younger children. I also believe that we are created to be creative beings and are innately driven by the desire to learn. I have seen it in my two girls in a variety of ways.
Emily has the advantage of being the younger one who sees and picks up what her older sister does. Naturally she picked up language and other forms of play earlier than I had expected. I have not deliberately formed a curriculum or lesson plan for her till recently. Even so it has been really bursts of craft and little activities here and there! Catching up with my older child’s curriculum planning, cooking, managing the house has taken up much of my time that my younger one seemed quite neglected. It feels as if I haven’t been teaching her.
BUT I have been amazed at her desire and ability to learn from the things all around us.
– when we returned to Singapore and had to take buses or find block numbers of our friends’ houses, numbers was the favourite thing for Emily. So yes, she pretty much asked, verbalised, wrote her way through the numbers. We still have the occasional reading of numbers backwards or writing numbers laterally inverted but the awareness for numbers is there. 100 was one of her favourite number because she always spots it on advertisements and packaging. For a few nights she would want to count 1 to 100, not once but twice! I have the ‘oh noooo’ going in my head but would still let her count, even though I may be part of her ‘101 steps to go to sleep’ strategy.
– she learnt the ABCs mainly from singing the song. Then she started taking interest in her name and wanted me to write it out for her. She read it out over and over again to herself. Later, she traced my words and attempted to write it without any guide. Occasionally she would want me to dot her name to trace it out but after a few months, she was writing it easily on her own. We do some activity trays while I school with Eliza but that’s pretty much.
– we learnt colours mainly from books with a focus on colours woven into the story and just in our daily life. Now she is finding some interest in learning colours in Chinese. It’s still a bit hazy for her but with practice and enough opportunities, I know she will get it.
Do you see the power of a child’s ability to learn? Environment plays a big part of what and how she learns but a lot of initiative comes from her. We read a lot and when she listens to my read alouds with Eliza, she is exposed to more of the English language even though she may not understand the meanings.