I am reading books on different ways to learn. This was one book I was looking forward to reading. I was frustrated they had less application and more science behind the reasoning. While both are important, I think they could have gotten to the punch lines quicker. The book did have good things to draw from it and good ideas. Below are my five big takeaways.
1. Let the buyer beware:
I did love the idea that they were adamant that you do not need to buy your kids fancy toys, gadgets, and learning devices. They suggest when buying toys or something to help your child learn to do your homework. They use music as an example. Most of us have heard classical music helps make babies smarter, this is not true.
“you could just as well sing lullabies, play Simon and Garfunkel, the Indigo Girls, or any other band you like. Music is wonderful. There is no doubt about it. But the evidence from research says that listening to Mozart, Madonna, or Mama Cass will NOT make your child a math genius or building architect, or even increase his general intelligence.” pg. 33
2. Think outside the box-literally:
“Your child will learn more when you play with him than when you buy him fancy boxes containing self-proclaimed “state-of-of-the-art: devices with exorbitant clauses to build his brain.” pg.150
In other words, you can buy all your kids the fancy toys in the world but there is more benefit to watching your child and noticing what they are interested in and using that as a jumping point to teach your kids. Watching for natural opportunities to teach your kids. Making brownies with them, playing with a bar of soap in the bathtub, reading books, and tons of other ideas.
3. Switch up what you are watching:
Repetitive movies while boring and sometimes annoying to parents is great for kids because it’s how they learn. When Maddie brings me a book to read that we have read 100 times and she wants me to read it to her again, she’s gleaning new things from it every time we read it. It’s how kids learn. Noting that limiting how much TV our kids watch is also important.
4. Plan a field trip to your own backyard:
The best place to explore can be right where you live. Exploring what bugs, animals, birds live in your yard. When you close your eyes what sounds do you hear. What things can you smell? Are there sticks and stones to make instruments? What sounds do raindrops make? Your own backyard provides hours and hours of learning!
5. Move from malls to tennis balls:
Instead of buying expensive toys, use pots and pans for a symphony, a laundry basket on its side makes a great place to climb in and out of or make tents out of the kitchen table. For babies making a drawer, they are allowed to go and explore it. Changing out the toys and objects to keep it interesting.
“Never underestimate the power of ordinary objects when examined with a child’s eye. For children, they are not ordinary at all.”
The biggest thing they are promoting is using everyday experiences, use what you have to teach and play with your kids.
“If you do what comes naturally in your day, you will build number skills in your home. You need not buy anything extra or worry about getting the edge over others.”
To help your children learn to write their name you could write their name on a piece of paper, then give them stamps and have them find the matching stamps and they can stamp their name.
Sit beside your child and ask them to start a story or you can start one saying once upon a time or there was a lady with a purple flower and let them finish the sentence and story. Write down what they say, then read it back to them so they can hear what they are coming up with. Play word games. For example you could use the letter A and come up with as many letter A words as possible.
Playful moments are really learning opportunities in disguise. This is probably the biggest thing I am going to take away from this book. Play =learning, learning=play! I was encouraged to make it a point to make sure I have played with my kids at least some point in the day. Not being so busy with doing stuff. Playing with my kids allows me to see how they learn, what they are interested in, what their brains are thinking, allowing me to guide and shepherd them in both their education and interests which can also be one in the same. Learning that buying our kids all the learning toys in the World does nothing compared with the practical learning that everyday brings. Bringing them into the kitchen and baking brownies, watching soap float in the bathtub, finding shapes as we drive by road signs, learning letters and numbers by the world around us. Discovering bugs, flowers, trees, and other amazing things in our own backyard. It’s exciting to know and be assured that by playing Maddie is learning, she’s learning her way, she’s developing and experiencing life and learning as she was meant to. So exciting!