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Give Your Baby a Head Start – It’s never too early to start preparing your child for success.

Updated on September 22, 2015
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C. E. Clark homeschooled her child from kindergarten through high school. Public and private education is high in importance to Ms. Clark.

Home Schooling My Own Daughter

As I have explained in previous hubs, I home schooled my child all the way from elementary through high school. She has recently turned 24 years old and is currently working with special needs children for the local school district. She is also very involved in a variety of other activities and interests. I wonder sometimes when she sleeps . . .

Several people have asked me to write about my experience as a home school parent and how I went about home schooling my daughter. I designed my own curriculum. This hub will be mainly about when I started educating my daughter and how I did it. The things I will talk about here are things all parents (not just home schooling parents) can do, to help their children get a better education and to have successful lives. They are simple things that anyone can do, but sadly many people do not.

In this hub I will explain the first steps I took in educating my daughter. Future hubs will continue where this one leaves off, so be sure to read this hub in its entirety to get the full value, and check back for the next step if you have older children.

Learning begins at birth whether or not any specific effort to encourage learning is employed. Babies come into this world with a brain that is very much like a sponge, ready to soak up every bit of information and knowledge. Understanding how one’s world works is essential to surviving in it, and so it is natural that babies arrive programmed to want to learn, and generally learn easily. Everything is new, interesting, and exciting to most babies.

Spend Time Reading and Talking to Your Baby

My baby daughter loved reading with her father and me.  She looked forward to it starting at just 2 weeks of age!
My baby daughter loved reading with her father and me. She looked forward to it starting at just 2 weeks of age! | Source

Starting Early Can Make a Big Difference In Your Child's Academic Performance Later

I began teaching my daughter when she was just 2 weeks old. Yes, 2 WEEKS old. Naturally, I started with very simple things. Simple things, but they can make such a difference in how well your child(ren) does in school later, whether you choose public or private school, or home schooling.

As I have advocated in previous articles on home schooling, learning should be fun for children, and never tedious. When learning becomes a chore children are no longer interested in doing it. So keep it light and fun and interesting.

Make the Necessary Time to Bond With Your Child

Bonding with your new baby is the first order of business and that usually happens naturally by simply spending time with your new little one and keeping most of your attention on him/her. Making yourself emotionally available to your new baby as well as attending to his or her physical needs is extremely important.

It is imperative that you ‘be there’ emotionally as well as physically, for your baby. Once bonding has taken place you must maintain that bonding by ‘being there,’ for your child. You will have more influence on your child than any other person so long as you maintain that bond. Your child will want your approval and will just naturally try hard to get it. Your child will want to be like you and do the things you do, so always remember that you are your child’s first and most important role model.

You Are Your Child’s First and Most Important Role Model

What you get when you model bad behaviors to your child while telling them to behave differently is a child who models bad behaviors while telling other people not to copy them. For example, if you smoke while telling your child smoking is bad and unhealthy, and they shouldn’t do it, what you will end up with is a child who grows up to be a smoker who tells their children smoking is bad and unhealthy and they shouldn’t do it. All parents teach by example whether or not they recognize that fact.

The First Things I Did To Start My Baby’s Education

Shortly before my baby was born, I purchased a couple of very inexpensive books at a discount store. Little Golden Books titled The Little Red Hen and The Ugly Duckling. There were three other similar books in the set, but I don’t remember the titles. The ones named here were my daughter’s favorites. They were very simple books with simple pictures, bright colors, and only one or two lines at the bottom of each page to tell the story.

When my daughter was about two weeks old, I took out The Little Red Hen, and she and I read it together. It is not only entertaining, but teaches an important principle -- when you work you should share in the benefits and when you do not do your share, you may receive few or no benefits. Of the books I had purchased, it seemed to have the simplest, most colorful pictures, and that is why I chose to start with that particular book.

The story was secondary at this point, since my daughter was only 2 weeks old. When I opened the book to the first two pages my daughter was immediately interested in what this new object was and every aspect about it. I let her look at the first two pages as I held the book open for her. After she had a minute to take the pages in, I began to point to different objects on the page and to name them. I talked to her about the objects. I talked to her about the color and the purpose of the objects. I talked to her about what the little red hen and other characters in the story were doing.

I did not talk as though I were a recording. I talked directly to my daughter, looking at her and drawing her in as much like we were having an ordinary conversation as possible. It is important to include your child in the ‘discussion’ and make them feel a part of it. They need to feel like they have your attention.

My baby and I went from page to page doing exactly that same thing until we reached the end of the book. First I let her look the pages over as I held the book open for her, and then I pointed to different objects and named them and talked about their color and what their purpose was. My daughter was totally focused on the book because she found it so interesting. Some babies may not have such a laser focus, especially if there are distractions around.

My daughter was what is nowadays referred to as a high need baby. She cried most of the time and seldom slept. When we were looking at this book together she was enthralled and never so much as whimpered the whole time.

After simply looking at the book every day for a few days, and again pointing out different objects, colors, and talking about the purpose of some of the objects, and the activities of the different characters, I began reading the story lines at the bottom of the page. I explained each time before reading those lines that they were words, just like the words I was speaking, but written down in a code, a code that I would teach her how to read one day.

Your Child Will Look Forward To This Time You Spend Together

Every day we took perhaps thirty minutes to look at the book and talk about it with me pointing these different objects out and talking about them. I did not have a script, so I did not always talk about things in the same order or use the same words to describe them, and explain their purpose. Even though my daughter was a baby, it was like reading to any child and sharing the different aspects of the pictures and the story.

After a few weeks, I introduced the second book, The Ugly Duckling, which also has a good lesson. I went through the same procedure with the newly introduced book that I had done with the first book. In fact, we now rotated the books so that we still read The Little Red Hen, but also read The Ugly Duckling.

This was an everyday activity that my daughter looked forward to and loved to do. It was one of the times that she was happiest and did not cry. Anyone observing would have noticed that she was paying close attention to every detail and that she was very interested in literally everything, her attention totally captured.

All Your Attention Should Be On Your Child With No Distractions

When reading together, my attention was on my daughter. There was no television and no other person or thing to distract my attention, or hers. It was quiet time we could spend together, and it was time I spent with my daughter that I will always treasure. If yours is a hectic house full of people, then I recommend you do this activity in a quiet room alone with your baby.

If you have twins, or triplets, spend this time with each of them separately every day in a quiet place with no distractions. That will help your baby or babies understand that they are individuals in their own right, and each one is important to you and special in his or her own way. Spending time with each of your babies separately will also insure that each of them receives equal learning time.

Repetition Without Boredom

For very little children who are just learning, it’s important to repeat things over and over again. Vary the way you explain things so that your child will learn early from the example you set, about different ways of approaching things. The learning experience should not become static. Add new things that are similar, but that get just the slightest bit more complicated. Do not try to go too fast.

More Suggestions To Aid Your Baby’s Learning

Another thing that I did starting when my daughter was about three months old was to walk around our small apartment holding my daughter so that she could see as I pointed out different objects. I did this when I got her out of bed from her naps. We would start with objects in her bedroom. Just like with the books, I would name the objects and explain their purpose and talk about their color and other details. We would do this for only a minute or so and then move on to whatever was to come next. We did this daily.

Eventually, when my daughter was still less than a year old, I cut out some big capital letters (about 8 inches high) of all the letters in the alphabet, and all the numbers zero through nine, from bright colored paper and mounted them on a wall in her room. They were some of the things I pointed out to her regularly -- the name of the letter and its color. I waited until she was about 18 months old to introduce the lowercase letters by this same method.

After my daughter had a few weeks to get used to seeing the letters and to think about them, I began to point some of those letters out to her as we read books together. I would say things like, “Remember the letter B on your bedroom wall? Here is a letter B. Look, there are lots of letter Bs on this page.”

After the first two books described in this hub, I introduced many new books starting when she was about six weeks old, but only one or two new books a month or so until she was around 6 months old. After that I increased the number of new books to one or two a week. The books were still mostly the Little Golden Book variety, but with more story to them.

Expanding Your Child’s Knowledge of Their World and Expanding Their Vocabulary

The above activities may not seem like much, but they improve a child’s knowledge of their world and expand their vocabulary. They may not be speaking yet, but they will quickly come to understand the words that you use when you and other people speak, and their brain will be more tuned to learning about new things.

By the time my daughter was 14 months old we were reading for about 30 minutes to an hour every night before her bedtime. She had a lot of books by then and she would bring me the ones she wanted to read. It was a nightly activity we did together, and that she and I both looked forward to.

These are simple activities that parents can do to keep that curiosity and desire to learn, that all children are born with, alive and active. I can tell you it does make a difference.

More About My Daughter’s Progress

Books have always been my daughter’s favorite things. She loves music just as much and she is a fantastic writer. Most people do not get very far in this world if they are not able to read and communicate (write and/or speak well).

My daughter was completing 100 piece puzzles and reading at a fifth grade level when she was just 4 years old. She was correctly adding columns of 6 digit numbers and correctly subtracting 4 digit numbers from each other at that age also.

Most parents can educate their own children just the way I did. When it came time for my daughter to take the exam to obtain her GED (general equivalency or education diploma) she passed it with flying colors. She did not take any of those courses that teach people how to pass the GED. She went into the exam ‘cold turkey,’ and got 90% or higher on every part of it except the math section where she got 80%. Many of the people she knew who took the exam had to repeat some sections because they failed them, or they had to take the entire exam over because they failed it so badly, even after having taken a GED prep course.

Coming from a home that highly valued education, and married at the time to a man who also highly valued education (see my profile), I tried to make our daughter’s education well rounded with as little ‘busy work’ and tedium as possible. My daughter’s father and I are both products of public schools, and I truly believe our daughter has received a far better education in all aspects than most children receive in today’s public schools. Even so, I realize that not all parents are suited to educating their own children for a variety of reasons.

No Education Process Is Perfect

While some people tend to look at home school and pick out the imperfections, I would simply say that no school is perfect. Not public school, not expensive private schools, and not home school. This is an imperfect world as are the people in it, so it follows that nothing people do will be perfect either. There are pros and cons to everything. It is just a matter of determining what will work best for your family, for you, and most importantly, for your child(ren).

© 2011 C E Clark


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