I am of the opinion, especially after teaching for five years, that learning should occur in the context of everyday living spurred by curiosity and creativity. Learning should be fun and easy and never forced … if it can be helped.
From the moment I found out the I was pregnant with my first baby, I was thinking about how and when I would start to introduce guided learning. The most important and paramount concern that I had was finding a way to make learning fun and avoid the sense of dread and boredom that tends to come with formal education.
When my son turned one I got him a fridge phonics toy that would hopefully help him learn not only the alphabet but also the sounds of each individual letter. I first learned of this approached as a nanny and it worked great for the eighteen month old boy I was watching. However, after the initial excitement of a toy that “talked,” my son quickly lost interest in the toy and the alphabet. While the toy stayed on the refrigerator, I did not force him to study the alphabet. Instead, we focused on art projects and music appreciation.
In the midst of our alphabet hiatus, he was learning how to count to ten mostly because we would count down from ten for the conclusion of his time outs. He was really quite good at counting to ten. He also took interest in colors and liked to tell us the colors of his toys or the colors he found in his books. Like most young children, he loved to be read to and through the story reading he was becoming familiar with letters, colors, numbers, shapes, animals, etc. He was learning at it was natural and fun. I wanted to find a way to extend this method of learning into his “formal” education.
(To be continued…)