You may recognize the title is similar to a popular reading program for babies… Your baby can read Yes I did say baby and reading in the same sentence. Just like makeup and 5 year olds ; limos for young girls parties; cropped tops for tweens…things are getting pushed down.
I’ve been really saddened recently with the amount of people interested in spending large sums of money to teach their babies how to read through rote and repetition. I don’t think babies should or need to be reading at all. It’s not right or developmentally appropriate for them to be not playing. When you take them from their blocks or investigations to sit in front of a screen that’s what you do take them away from playing. I feel I need to say it, it’s alright! your baby can play. It’s how they learn.
It is tempting and you may feel like everyone is doing it but they are not.
Authors of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less explain how to make the best of your time with your child, they show how to practice their own three “R’s”
Reflect: Stop and ask if a formal, structured activity is right for your child and whether you’re reducing the time that she could spend learning through play.
Resist: Just say no to stuffing your child with information and do so knowing that the research in this book [Einstein Never Used Flashcards] backs you up.
Recenter: Reassure yourself that you made the right choices, because growing up should be full of play , not work.
What can you do?
- Not buy into the myth that faster is better.
- Don’t believe that we have to make every single moment count otherwise we’re failures. Moments do count but let our children lead their lives.
- We aren’t the only ones to teach our kids. By providing high quality experiences we can but only hope to enrich their lives and not predict their place in society.
- Know that children are not empty vessels that we have been charged with filling as quickly and fully as possible but instead let them use their innate abilities to discover, learn and experiment as well.
Don’t get me wrong. Some children are ready faster than others. Great! But the majority are not. It is important not to squander our time with our children but planning each and every moment. It isn’t healthy. There must be down and unstructured time. It’s in these idle times real learning happens. They get to put into practice what they’ve learnt and are thinking. We can learn from other forms of media but be age appropriate and realistic. Don’t always believe the hype. Marketing with a pinch of science doesn’t equal a good play experience. Messages are often inflated. Yes, if we let them discover and learn everything this would not be a good practice but the prevailing attitude we receive is that if we push our agenda onto our kids they will succeed. 1+1=2. This type of thinking does not account for variations in personality, age, gender, race or economic status.
How do we do these things here?
Change your thinking from perfect pictures, perfect activities or perfect crafts to emphasizing the process over the end product. This is what creates a love of learning and not a need for perfection. Failure is good it leads to improvement. We want them to love the process to do it again and not feel like they have no part in the process but merely imitating what we want. We want to encourage creativity.
Allow time for pretend play so kids can work through the complex emotional world we live in. We fill their heads with ABCs as early as possible and keep adding to the academics. Playing in the Wendy house, constructing a fort, serving lunch in your restaurant are all necessary play activities to go alongside the academics. It’s where language is learnt. It’s where they work out troubles one teddy to another. It’s where they work through problems.
Read and learn what makes for a great foundation from the source. Try The Hurried Child-25th Anniversary Edition
So before you reach for that expensive DVD set that promises you lots of sitting down drilling your wriggly 2 year old. I hope you’ll consider using that program in light of wider reading and not just the jacket sleeve. That you’ll consider activities and actions I’ve already outlined. That you’ll keep the 3 R’s in mind and make wise decisions for your family.