What can you do to help your little ones learn right from birth??
#1 Sing to them!
Yes I said sing to them. Sounds so simple, but it really is! But don't feel you need to stick to the basic Row Row your Boat or Mary Had a Little Lamb. Of course use these fun songs and what ever song your Mom or Dad sung to you as a baby. But lets get creative! Sing the ABCs, count to 100, count backwards from 100, skip count by 2s, 5s, 10s, days of the week, months of the year, etc.
By doing this you are bonding with your child, comforting them, loving them and educating them. My now when Baby Z was an infant, he hated car rides. Our whole family would sing to him, "The A says ahhh, the A says Ahh. Every letter makes a sound, the A says Ahh!" and so forth throughout the whole alphabet. This helped calm him, but it also helped him learning the letter sounds (phonics) at a really early age.
#2 Label EVERYTHING
Little Reader, MemoFlix and Wink to Learn English helped expose Baby Z to so many words. But you don't need to buy DVDs or computer programs to do this if you don't want to. (Though it does help a lot.) Label your house and do little home tours pointing to all the words as you walk by with your baby.
When your out with your baby talk about what's happening. "Oh look! Its starting to rain. Do you feel the drops on your head?'
#3 DVD and Computer programs
Technology is not bad. It can be used for the wrong reasons, yes. However I believe it can be a powerful tool to help educate our children. I know what the AAP's stand is on screen time before 2. Thing is I'm not one to let to government tell me how to raise my children. Yes, I follow car seat safety rules to the tee, but we don't vaccinate. I choice to educate myself, and make a decision for my family. Not blindly follow like sheep.
My personal experience is, if you choose high quality, educational materials, screen time can be very helpful in educating my children. It's something you will have to look at for your family. I should also point out I am talking about real educational materials, like Your Baby Can Read, Little Reader, and Monki See just to name a few.
If you have access to a iPad, take advantage of it! Baby Z learned so much from several apps. Even though many of them were WAY beyond his ability, we did them for him and had him watch. Input, input, input! When he got a bit older I took his hand and made his little hand operate the app. (with his cooperation of course.) Then eventually he was able to operate several of them without my help. This is an awesome way to teach your young child colors, shapes, numbers, letters, letter sounds, sight words, etc.
Stay tune! I am compiling a list of AWESOME IOS apps for babies and toddlers.
#5 Carefully picked toys
If you step into the toy section at Walmart or dare to enter Toys R Us, you can easily see there are many, many options for toys for your young child. Not all toys are created equal. But there are certain brands that are usually a pretty safe bet like Leap Frog and Melissa & Doug. But the best places I have found GOOD quality toys are thrift stores and garage sales. With a little soap and water they are good as new and a fraction of the price.
Letter blocks, matching games, stacking cups, etc are all great toys for little hands. These toys are perfect for little hands to explore on their own when you are making dinner or need two seconds to eat the said dinner. Also they a great to play together with your child.
Watch for an entry about great education toys that we love!
This is where I might get some grief. Yes there is a place for flashcards in an infant, toddler and preschoolers life. My boys LOVE flashcards. But its because I do not drill them with the flashcards. I show them to Zakari the same way as I would show him a book.
A few books with looking into at the library or Amazon would be:
How to Teach Your Baby to Read (The Gentle Revolution Series)
How Smart Is Your Baby?: Develop and Nurture Your Newborn's Full Potential (The Gentle Revolution Series)
These are good reads too, but I would focus on reading the first two listed. Then read these if you have time.
How to Teach Your Baby Math (The Gentle Revolution Series)
How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge (The Gentle Revolution Series)
Now it should be noted that Doman's method is a lot of work. I did not follow Doman's method to the tee. I did make many flashcards. I also used multimedia, little Little Reader, DVDs, etc.
There is also no need to make the flashcards as large as Doman recommends. Yes bigger is better, but I found 8x11 works well too.
You can teach your baby to read, count, know basic kindergarten knowledge in toddlerhood. I know this from experience! The best part is they love it! Children are little sponges, and the younger they are the easier they learn. Why not teach them to read when they are able to do so with less effort at one or two instead of waiting till they are 6 or 7 years old.
Oh but I know what some are thinking. Monique just let them be babies. Tiger mom! Why rush them to grow up? Let them be kids!
My reply to this is, why hold back our children? My two year old loves to read. He gets excited at the grocery store when he can read the words on the wall. He reads what's in his fruit pouches first to see what flavour he is about to eat. I have by no means forced him to learn. I just enriched his environment. Carefully selected only highly educational programs to expose him to during screen time. Used car time, waiting rooms, potty time, and bedtime to expose him to good quality apps or books with large words.
What did this do? It helped my son who is now 27 months be able to:
- read any 3 letter word he is presented
- know all his colors
- know all his shapes, including shapes like octagon, oval and 3D shapes like cylinder.
- know all his basic farm and zoo animals and their sounds
- knows all his letters and letter sounds. Even is starting to figure out letters like c and g have two sounds.
- know how to read more words then I'm able to keep track of. (we were in the hundreds not including 3 letter words a while back, my guess is we are now in the 1000s)
- understands phonics and can sound out new words he has never seen
- Counts to 20 by ones forwards and backwards(has gone higher but usually only goes to 20 because he loses interest
- Counts to 100 by 10s and 5s
- Counts to 30 by 2s
- knows his days of the week and months of the year
- and much much more
I'm not listing this to brag, nor do I think my son is special. He has just grown up in an enriched environment and was exposed to this stuff in a fun way. ALMOST ANY CHILD CAN LEARN THIS STUFF TOO! Even children with special needs.
When people asking me, "Why teach them to read?" I ask "Why not!" It opens a whole new world to them.
A few weeks ago we were at Shoppers Drugmart, and I was wearing Baby Z on my back in an Ergo carrier. We were waiting in line when he noticed the words over the cooler and started pointing at it and yelling, "Water! Water! Water!" I walked up to pay for my items and gently said "Yes sweetie there is water in the cooler." The older woman behind me said with her jaw dropped, "No! He's not pointing at the water in the cooler, he is pointing at the word. I think he just read the word water. Can he read?" I just brushed it off that he knows a few words because I didn't have time to have a conversation. But if I had time I might have gone into details if the woman was open to it. Who knows maybe she has grandchildren.
The point of this story is, instead of Baby Z just being able to look into the items around the store and try and figure out what they are that way, we have given him another piece to the puzzle. The ability to read what the words are.