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home education of your young child
As a parent we are all concerned with exposing our youngsters to education as early as possible. Many toys are focused on education but without a parent playing and showing the child the value of the the toy. Furthermore, even without all the new pretty toys a parent can help their youngster build the building blocks of education. We all know young children are like sponges, they are ready to soak up whatever knowledge we decide to impart. The hard part comes in knowing how to reach those receptors, so we can relate the important information to their young minds. Furthermore, we need to adjust the information to meet the growing demands of their young minds. For Infants: (Age birth - 1.5 y/o)This is all about the Mom-Bond. Singing softly, sounding excited about everyday things - "Do you smell this pretty yellow flower?" The name of the game is letting your infant become familiar with words that are educational, letters, sounds, body parts, colors, numbers, etc. There is no test, we don't expect an infant to remember the words, but by exposing them to these words they become easier to remember when we try to impress the knowledge on them in their preschool years. Your baby is a sponge just soaking up the learning at this stage, you're just there to give the guidance they need. So, even though they can't understand story-lines and such yet, you can work on reading to them - exposing them to the curiosity of reading. Even young infants can be taught sign-language, as most learn to manipulate their fingers long before their tongues. I used Baby Signs with my boys. To this day they'll use the signs for more, food, drink, water, and such. This helps them realize things are assigned proper names and if you need something, squalling isn't necessarily going to get you what you want, whereas asking for it has a better chance. Creating A Learning Environment: Even if you plan to send you child to Public or Private schools instead of homeschooling, it is important to get their mind used to the process of learning as early as possible. Here are some tips on creating the best environment for this age group: *Have stimulating photos, posters, letters, etc, at your child's eye level. Placing an intriguing boarder around your child's room, at the level with their bed or crib with help them focus their eyes and investigate. *Be observant. Especially when your little one begins to move. Do they like to climb, do they like to see what happens when they knock something over? When your little one's personality begins to emerge, place toys around them that they will enjoy playing with. Placing their toys just out of reach will teach motor skills as the baby will have to reach the toy they want, or teach them to communicate their desire for you to give the toy to them. The same goes for toys that roll or squeak, they also teach motor skills. *The first two years of life are mostly focused on two things: learning motor control and learning to communicate. Make sure their play areas are stimulating the child to want to move, build their muscles and develop their coordination. Creating scenarios through reading, singing or play that you talk out will help them develop an understanding of words. For instance, taking two stuffed animals. "Mr. Bear looks sad. Why is Mr. Bear sad? Maybe Mr. Elephant said something mean? Well, then Mr. Elephant should say he's sorry." (Hold up the elephant toward the bear. "I'm sorry, Mr. Bear" (said in a deep voice), "Thank you Mr. Elephant, it's OK, now I can be happy!" (said in a more timid voice). This type of scenario, which sounds so simple to us, actually teaches your child about many things, emotions, cause and effect, as well as polite speech. Try to use at least 10 - 50 words a day with your infant identifying everyday objects. Don't think of it like a check list or a vocabulary list, think of it as talking about your normal day, what are you doing while making lunch...you'd be amazed how such simple techniques will increase your little one's vocabulary when they are pre-school ages. For Toddlers: (Age 1.5 - 4) Be prepared to be kept on your toes. The baby who lazed about and soaked up info, as an infant, is now mobile and ready to investigate. Be prepared to have to research something at the drop of the hat to answer all the "Why's". Read, read, read!!! Use t.v. channel sites like PBS or NOGGIN that have educational games, I've found that if the child can associate with a specific character, they are more likely to pick up on the technique of the game. Children in this age group won't remember through wrote memorization, like flash cards. They are discovering the world around them through touch and the other 4 senses. Let them hold an apple, eat the apple, while you stress the sounds "A" and show them the flash card of the letter a. Let them color the apple. Units and Themes have been the best bet, in my experience, with this age group. Information that has no association to something your child can see, smell, touch or taste has no meaning for them and, therefore, they see no need to remember it. Telling them 1 + 1 = 2 means nothing, but if you explain 1 apple and another apple means they have 2 apples, that they can understand. With my toddler I use units. I choose something intriguing to him (such as worms) and we base all of his learning for the week or month on that topic. How long can worms get? Then making a fake worm out of socks in that length, teaches him measurements, What do worms eat? Where do they live? Why are they necessary to the garden? These are all science questions. What sounds can you hear in the word "worm"? Putting the word together with letter magnets or flash cards helps him learn phonics. Etc. Kinesthetic learning techniques are often best for this age group (see below for tips). Creating A Learning Environment: Even though some children will be in pre-school during this age, their home education should not be set up like a public school room. Things need to feed their insatiable sensory curiosity while teaching them the topics they need to learn. *Textures. Some of which should have been introduced during their younger years, now you can ask them to describe what they are feeling...Making a bowl of pasts for them to dig their hands through can be made into a story about a pit of worms. *Reading Fun. Let your child pick out their favorite stories. If they have one they have become very familiar with, ask them to 'read' it to you. Even though they won't really be reading the words, they will be learning a lot about the make-up of a story. *Simplify. Buy your child a globe and a magnifying glass. The globe will help them get an idea of their place in the world and our country. A magnifying glass looking at feathers, sand, rocks, etc will help them learn about matter, what makes up the things they are now used to seeing, and will develop their vocabulary trying to explain what they see to you. *Writing fun. The basics for learning to write come from all those doodle art projects stuck to your fridge. Let them hold the crayons and color to their hearts content. Then have them trace different lines: straight, curved, zig-zagged, etc. This helps them develop the fine motor skills needed for writing letters. *Sounds. Learning phonics doesn't have to be hard. Our family loves the Leap Frog movies. My children will watch them then we'll point things out in the house and try to find ones with the elusive silent 'e', or ones the at start with buh. *Out Side Fun. Letting your youngster play outside, exploring the world will help them learn a whole lot. For instance, watching leaves as they move through their cycle of budding, blooming, falling will give them an understanding of not only the seasons, but the passage of time as well. For Youngsters: (Age 4 - 7) it is difficult to Not Buy all the extras. The fact is, at this age range, its best to stick with computer research, printouts and workbooks. They are just learning to read, do math, etc. Again, as mom, you know their strengths and weaknesses. Build on those. If you buy a curriculum you might find you feel pressured to keep to a certain schedule. After demonstrating writing skills just give them a pencil to have at it. My 6 y/o will be bent over a paper for hours writing words he knows - without any guidance from me. Children at this age also like a certain amount of control over what they are learning. Joining educational sites like time4learning.com where education is made fun, can entertain your child for hours and teach them at the same time. Creating a Learning Environment: This age is moving toward more traditional learning, as many of these children are attending school (either at or outside of the home). Having things on hand to reinforce what they are learning will help to reinforce these things. * Sight Words. We have a learning center around our computer for our oldest who is 6. The walls are lined with stickies of sight words. These are words that either have a common sound (like the silent "e") or are common enough in literature that they should be among the first learned to identify. Each day my son reads off the words. Each month we put up new words (NOTE: For my 3 y/o we have a wall of letters for the same type of activity). This way when we work on learning to read, there are words he recognizes with no problem, which makes the task of learning to read relatively less overwhelming. * Turning them into the educator. Have your child make up dances, songs or stories about colors or numbers or letters, etc. This will reinforce the information while helping them develop their communication skills. * Have plenty of writing and drawing materials on hand. If I just let my son write he's happy as pie, but he knows if he wants to draw or color he has to use different materials. * While teaching preschoolers is a bit general, like learning the continents instead of the states, you can begin teaching this age group about those specifics with the hopes they'll retain the knowledge...but you still don't want to focus on shoveling the information down their throats..make it fun. * I still use Units and Themes with my oldest son, but I make the info more specific and harder to comprehend. Even if he doesn't remember it, he's still been exposed to the topics. *Use the computer to help reinforce what you've been doing. Help your child learn to research further on any topic you've been exploring. Styles of Learning: Between Preschool and Elementary ages you'll be able to tell what style of learner you child is. There are 3 types of learning, some children combine more than one, but understanding what type of learner you child is will help you immensely when you try to reinforce a topic. 1) Auditory: These children learn by listening. You describe a flower and they retain the information. They can visualize in their mind what you are talking about and comprehend it. The large majority of this type of learner's are girls. This type of learner will need to repeat the vocabulary/spelling list over and over out loud in order to learn it. Discussing a story or what they learned will also help them to retain the information. Explain aurally how a math problem is solves, when using flash cards first read aloud the question and answer before asking them to solve the problem. When left to their own devices, they may skip words or instructions that are only written. Be sure to read through everything first. 2) Visual: These type of learners need to see an explanation with their own eyes. If you show them a flower while you describe it's color to will retain the information. These are mostly boys. This type of learner will need to read the vocabulary/spelling list, seeing the word over and over in order to learn it. Reading the topic a few times will help them retain it. You can teach your child to visualize their math or spelling problems in their mind, and it will help them with recall. Charts, maps, time lines, color coding, etc are all great ways for the visual learner to learn. 3) Kinesthetic: The rest of the population need to learn by doing. Growing their own flower from a seed is the only way they will understand the flower. This type of learner will need to write the vocab/spelling list over and over in order to learn it. Writing out a summary of what they learned will also help them to retain it. These are the "doers" and are often mis-labeled as hyperactive as they tend to wiggle, tap their feet, etc through learning. They won't necessarily remember something explained to them, but if they are allowed to tear it apart and put it back together they will. So, for learning their vocab/spelling, have them tear a word on a piece of paper apart until each piece holds a single letter, shuffle the letters then remake the word. Math should be treated as a game (for instance using a board game for math, if you spun a 2 and move two more spaces how many have you moved in all?). --Have them hold the book themselves as opposed to you holding it or lying it on a table. --Take notes while reading or talking about a topic (this allows for educational movement of the fine motor skills without distracting from the topic at hand) --Learn to write by using sand or finger paints. --Like writing lists repeatedly. --Learn by imitation or acting things out...so you can have them make up a story to act out. --Talk about nature, time, seasons, animal, biomes, etc while walking or playing outside. --Make models to reinforce a concept, like making miniature biomes when learning about animal habitats, or using their army men to act out the civil war. --You can turn Simon Sayes in to a spelling or math game. They can only move forward if they get the answer right.