Your baby can play

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?

Give babies and toddlers wooden spoons, cotton reels, lemons to play with. Construct a treasure basket where they can really learn through play.

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.

What do you and your two year old do?

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  1. I totally agree! Kids grow up too fast these days! What’s the rush? Let a baby be a baby and let the child learn through PLAY. What good does knowing their ABCs at 2 years old do if later in life the same child can’t figure out how to creatively handle problems he’s faced with daily?

    Not much!

    • Good point, Chele. Employers are complaining that there’s not enough innovation from the newbies. I can’t see how this can improve with we stifle the kids imagination and creativity. We make them automated. Thanks for commenting. It’s easy to get caught up in things without fully understanding the ramifications for the future, especially if little Johnny is doing things your little guy isn’t going yet.

  2. You are so right! Playing is the best thing for kids. I’m amazed at how much of their play is actually an imitation of work. The other day my 21 month old went back and forth with his dump truck filling it up with dirt from one pile and driving it across the yard then dumping it in another pile. He was so content and happy. And learning too!

    Thanks for this great post!

  3. Melitsa!

    Bravo for this post! Thank you for telling the world what research has proven…the best we can do for our kids is to teach them how to be creative, think outside of the box and problem solve…and how to have FUN! Reading will come in due time! Sorry to the companies that have invested hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on early reading programs. It can actually stifle kids! Better to let them play and explore on their own. Important stuff is happening in their brains when they do this! Preserve childhood! I’m going go do a post on this…and link back to you!

  4. It is funny that you are talking about this. I was just having this discussion with my son’s kindergarten teacher. I am not one of those moms to push their kids to learn and read before their time. I feel like if I did that they would probably be bored in school. I would rather do as you do and share learning experiences through play and outdoor adventures, etc. I also don’t have the patience to sit down and teach my toddler how to read either. LOL

    Anyway, great subject! Thanks for sharing your ideas. 🙂

    .-= Dawn (Painter Mommy)´s last blog ..Our Latest Garbage Picking Find (It’s a Good One!) =-.

    • The push is contagious though isn’t it. It’s everywhere so kudos to you and many others who are resisting. Understanding how little brains work and speaking to early childhood experts ( albeit through their books) has really helped me gain a better perspective and make more informed decisions for our family. I really wonder how the intense learning will impact on learning later on.

  5. Hi Melitsa, your post on reading is really interesting. My little one is only six months old and I was thinking about taking him to ‘sing and sign’ classes to encourage his speech and to help reduce frustration by enabling him to sign for things. Is he too young for this sort of class? Many thanks,
    Mindful Mum
    .-= ALI´s last blog ..Glass baby bottles =-.

    • Singing and signing are totally appropriate. We should be doing this more. Interaction and fun with no pressure. Encourage and experience are great ways to view things. I’m not sure if signing is a bit too young. I never went to a class. By 12months he may enjoy this more. I’d say the interaction is mostly for you at this stage and to learn a ton of songs and actions to use to get into the singing mode and to use at home etc. I’d strongly recommend you get this book out the library. It’s an easy read and will give you so many ideas. At the very least it’ll give you another point of view.:) Lisa @ Talking tots did a really good guide to speech for babies a little while back. Let me know if you can’t find it.

  6. I just really love this post. All new mother should have to read it!
    .-= PlanningQueen´s last blog ..How To Menu Plan For A Month In 35 Minutes! =-.

  7. Nice post, thanks for sharing! It’s so true – just let your baby explore, they’ll get the hang of things when it’s time!
    .-= Jenn´s last blog ..Ramp Up Your eBay Sales – Another Wednesday Coupon =-.

  8. I love being able to play and interact with my kids. They grow up so fast and are so smart. Thanks for a great post – very interesting information.
    .-= Staci Jansma´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

Love comments, thanks for yours.

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