How young is too young to begin teaching children? There are those that children are taught every day from the moment they are born, and others that claim they are gathering experiences which help them learn, but should not be formally taught anything. I fall into the former line of thinking.
My daughter is now 19 months old (this is obviously a recycled post), and I don’t think she’s super advanced, I just think she thrives off of being challenged. Children love to learn, because it’s basically the only thing on their mind right now. They want to absorb information, so why not encourage it?
When I don’t know something, I research it—a lot. So, when I had my child, I researched development. One of the first books I brought home with me was Active Experiences for Active Children: Literacy Emerges. At the time, I just wanted some other pedagogy sources other than the ones I had from my University classes. What, I wondered, was really involved with teaching? Could I fulfill my dream of homeschooling my own child or would doing so be detrimental to her development?
I mentioned the book by Carol Seefeldt and Alice Galper for one main reason. They list some creative signs to post for indoor learning spaces. They have become my parental aptitude litmus test. At the end of each day, I want to be sure I’ve covered all of these for my child.
New locations are like Disneyland to my daughter. She gets to see new things—acorns, owls, lace, globes—anything she didn’t see the day before. There is no excuse to not patiently show and explain at least one new thing a day to her.
Something to Do
She is learning and growing every day, as are her abilities to interact. So, I always try to give her something challenging to do. Now here, I cheat a little. I’m not around any other children her age, so I have to use the Internet or read through my books to discover what other youngsters are doing. For my daughter, that means looking at what three year olds are doing. If the developmental activity doesn’t seem to challenge her, I pick something from the age four list.
Something to Observe
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to let my little one grow up on a farm, just as I did. Out here, there are always plenty of new things to observe. Even in town, though, there is plenty new to be observed and explained. We take for granted so many things, but even just stopping to watch how the employees at Wal-Mart go out and collect carts is fascinating to my daughter. Taking the time to observe and explain helps create order out of chaos for her budding mind.
Something to Think About
I try to keep this separate from something to observe, because otherwise the observations get too much about the lesson, and less about the experience. Observation takes place a little better when she’s allowed to do so patiently for a short time, so she gets curious enough to ask me for an explanation (not that she does so in so many words—hehe). Rather, for me, I’m often explaining the cooking, cleaning, or animal-care process. If she has an emotional outburst, that is the opportune time to explain how I understand how she’s feeling, why she is reacting the way she is, but how else she can react and get a better result from those around her. That gives her something to think about.
Something They Need to Know
Reading will be a must in her life, from the Bible to Philosophy, literacy is not an option—it is a necessity. So is counting and understanding the world around her.
Even though my daughter is less than two years old, she loves “reading.” She likes to be read to, she likes to see words written for her, and she likes to point to letters she knows in books. Why on earth would I not help foster that along? I truly believe I would be remiss as a mother for simply telling her, “No, Sweetie. You’re too young to learn your letters.” Or, “No, baby. I don’t want to read you that book. How about you go watch some TV instead?”
Do I expect my child to be able to recite her ABCs by age two? Of course not. However, if she does, I’m not going to consider myself a bad mother, which is how some people seem judge early-teaching parents.
You know, our society use to beginning potty-training children at 18 months, and now the average age has been moved back to 36 months. Why? Are we de-evolving? No. (Now, I know I’m about to catch all sorts of grief for this, but here goes…) I think some (not all!) mothers are just getting lazy. They don’t view it as their job to teach. Granted, there are mothers out there that are just spread too thin to set up regular, scheduled time each day to sit down and teach-teach, but still—
It irritates me that I am made to feel like I must apologize for pushing my daughter to do things that are not required abilities at her age. Well, guess what? I’m not trying to teach my daughter to be a part of the lowest common denominator. If she’s ready to learn, I’m not going to make her wait, and the only way to know if she’s ready to learn is to keep her challenged with the next level.
What do you think? Is 19 months too young to be started on a structured learning program?