Sunday, June 27, 2010

Of ABC's and 1-2-3's

My yard connects with that of my parents and my kids run back and forth during the day.  It really is the perfect set up for raising children in a multi-generational environment, something I believe to be very important.  My parents spend a great deal of time with my kids.

I was talking with my mom and she told me that F (3) had been over and they were talking about letters and things.  Apparently my Dad didn't know that F knew all of her letters and was blown away when she not only accurately identified them all, but also knew all the letter sounds.  He then (jokingly) quizzed her on her colors and numbers, and then they tested her on her ability to stand in line, follow directions and raise her hand to ask a question..  He then told her that she had successfully completed kindergarten and most of 1st 3 years old.  Mom laughed and told him: She knew all this when she was 2.

The purpose of writing this all out is not to brag on her, although of course I am very proud of her.  The reason I am writing this is to say that I did not have anything to do it least, not in the traditional sense.  I do not sit down with her and work on these things with her.  I don't quiz her, do flashcards with her (unless she is playing with them and asks me a question) or require any school work of her.  In my way of thinking, at 3 years old she does not need to be concerned with school work - her job is to play and learn.

Playing and learning is exactly how F has learned all of those things.  Through spending hours drawing with her sister, she learned how to write her letters.  Through playing with ABC magnets and asking questions, she learned her letters and their sounds.  Through counting family members, blocks, toys and crayons, she learned numbers.  Through knowing asking me how to spell family names, she is learning how to spell basic words.

Not all kids will learn all of these things at her age - my first didn't, and my second wasn't as strong on her letter recognition and letter sounds.  You can optimize their potential learning in your home.  Here are some tips for creating a rich learning environment:

1).  Read, read, read.  Aloud to your kids, silently to yourself.  Model the behavior you want from your children.  Turn off the TV and READ!
2) Be intentional with their TV time, if any.   As much as possible, limit TV to educational programming.  We love LeapFrog - Letter Factory
3) Encourage Art.  Drawing is the precursor to writing.  Both my girls could write from a very young age due to the large amounts of time spent drawing.
4) Include them in daily jobs by asking them questions.  When folding laundry, have them identify colors.  Have them count out forks and plates when setting the table.
5) Talk to your kids.  Ask them what sounds their names start with, what letter makes that sound.  If they don't know, tell them.  Go through all the family names, pet names, place names.
6) When getting in the bath, count all their toes and fingers and have them count along...just to make sure they are all there, of course ;-)
7) Invest in some nice ABC and 123 magnets for the fridge.  F plays with her letters while I cook and is beginning to spell her own words now using them.  Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet

Obviously this is not exclusive to homeschool families.  In many ways all families are homeschooling families in that we all teach and learn so much together, whether or not our kids attend traditional school.

A lot of these things you are doing already.  We all do them - they are instinctual.  A lot of parenting is.  Just keep it up and trust that repetition and stress free, delight-driven learning really does work.  I've got a 3 year old almost-2nd grader to prove it.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE that your yard and your parent's yard is connected! Liz


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