In school we never used the Oxford Comma and we studied under the British system. When I took Logic 101 in the University of Toronto, my exceptional professor taught us the Oxford Comma and its use in Logic. I was hooked. It just made perfect logical sense to me. I’ve been using it since and have had no complaints, except for a publication I wrote for which excluded its use in their style guide. Then again, languages aren’t always logical, even if they should.
I finally found an ecofriendly safe paint for the kids! By chance I met the owner of Mulberry Paints at Isetan where she was selling her products and we had a good chat. Her paints are plant-based and tested extensively for safety.
We broke out the kits today. The kids loved it!
It is sometimes difficult to pin down an exact thought until you see it. Reading Eli Gerzon’s story, I realized how I am educating my children is really worldschooling. We live, we learn. Not at home. But in the world.
We are hardly ever at home. I find myself teaching the children more when we are out, often in the car and while sitting down to eat something, or on the run. A typical day goes like this:
We get up together, wash up, put the clothes in the laundry basket, diapers in the bin, get dressed, have a light breakfast, and then go out for lunch. In the car, the kids read their books, or we practice counting by each spotting a blue car and tagging it.
At lunch, Wolf builds a Lego fort to protect his Lego humans against an onslaught of Safari Ltd dinosaurs or imagines some other scenario. He orders his own food. Cuts his own broccoli. He draws pictures of his family over dessert or plays Animal Kaiser (teaches him math!) with his Grandpa or Godpa. He asks for the bill politely. Sometimes he even signs for it.
While shopping, sometimes I tell him he can pick out a safe toy under $10. He has to read the price tags and tell me whether it is more than or less than $10. If he is not sure, he asks me. He can only buy well-made safe toys. No PVC. He knows this and accepts when I tell him it won’t last, it is unsafe, or it is made of PVC. When I pay for it, he tells the cashier we don’t need a bag, and thanks him or her for ringing up his toy.
Kitten naps. Sometimes.
At the supermarket, he rides in the cart and picks his own fruits and especially his own broccoli. He was taught how to choose the freshest and picks them himself. He chooses super foods because they make his body run well (and grow big and strong like a liopleurodon). He asks the lady at the weighing counter if how she is and if she has had lunch. She smiles at him and weighs his broccoli. He tells her, thank you and have a good day! She says, you too! At the payment counter, he helps to load the groceries, and thanks the cashier.
I’ve been giving him $2 to buy his Grandpa a curry puff and he goes by himself, with me about 5 metres away watching and ordering my own drink. The lady selling curry puffs is still amused at this 4 year old asking her, “May I have a curry puff for my Gong Gong please?” It has been a few months. We rest in the car and I share my drink with him. Kitten hears all and sees all. Sometimes she dozes now.
At home, we pack away the groceries, wash up, and I rest on the couch while the children play. Some days he paints, other days he plays with magnets (on the table, away from Kitten), or an activity book, or stickers, or if Kitten sleeps, we look through a huge book on the Universe or dinosaurs.
I break out the Ikea tunnel and tent, throw in some pillows and stuffed toys, and Wolf and Kitten go wild with some imaginary game. I rest, or sew something, or read my news.
Daddy comes home and we do dinner then have family time. Bath time. Then bed time when we play games with stuffed animals. Sometimes hide and seek, sometimes hide and seek with the stuffed animals, other times we reenact Three Little Pigs, except this time it is Three Little Cats and 2 Liopleurodons. Bedtime and lights out, and another day is done. It is always lovely to cuddle them at night.
We got a 3D dinosaur book on sale from Borders today and took pics of Wolf’s Safari Ltd Baby T-Rex, Kronosaurus, and Chimera (lead-free and pthalate-free), and Lego Indiana Jones figurines (free of toxic chemicals) meant to represent himself and Kitten in the various dinosaur scenes. Can you spot the toys?
Another case for unschooling and attachment parenting: The attachment you have with your child will determine their future ability to have and sustain healthy and happy relationships.
So forget about the reading and throw away the TV. Have some one on one time, cuddle time, or eye to eye time with baby instead. Show your baby he or she matters.
From Psychology Today (bold emphases mine, bold and italics from the original article):
First and foremost: The fundamental task of early childhood isn’t learning to read, or to “get ahead” for school, or to impress the neighbors, or to give the folks something to brag about. Encouraging children to surge ahead beyond their real developmental needs leaves them with some really sludgy clean-up to grapple with later on.
What kids need from the get-go is a parent who “gets” them, who pays attention to what’s going on inside them, and who responds to them in a way that’s actually related to what the kid is feeling.
The research on attachment shows that there are a number of benefits which last a lifetime, including but not limited to at least the following dozen:
- The ability to sustain attention
- Better management of physical reactions to emotions – leading to improved immunity and fewer stress-related illnesses
- Less anxiety
- Better relationships with childhood peers, and healthier relationships as adults
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Increased capacity for empathy
- Greater ability to regulate mood (for example, calming down from excitement, or not getting caught up in frustration)
- Enhanced skills in communicating emotions in healthy ways
- Greater confidence and self-esteem (and it isn’t just based on performance and grades, but rather a sense of abiding and healthy self-worth)
- Better able to generate alternative solutions to interpersonal conflict
- Enhanced insight into themselves, and others
- Better modulation of fear, allowing for a willingness to explore and take on growthful challenges
“Well,” a parent (or a video marketer) might say, “letting a baby or a toddler watch an educational video to help them read earlier won’t interfere with healthy attachment.”
Actually, it can. As a psychologist/neuropsychologist who has been practicing psychotherapy and conducting cognitive evaluations for nearly twenty years, as well as having researched the relationship between brain and behavior in both infants and adults — I believe that using television to “teach” young children is a big mistake, with significant costs down the road.
(I’ll say here that reading with your child is a solid, helpful, wonderful thing to do. Explicitly teaching them to read, especially by video, is what I’m grousing about here.)
I’d love it if parents who feel they’re giving their child a “gift” with an early reading DVD would consider the following questions:
- What’s the message when (by offering your child a mesmerizing “educational” DVD, and also showing them your pleasure at their achievements) you emphasize the value of learning to read extra early, over time spent with siblings, parents, or friends?
- What might your child be learning from developing the habit of spending time in front of a “worthwhile” or “engaging” video, rather than with someone who loves him or her?
- What are you telling your child when you’re putting them in front of the TV instead of showing them that you value interacting with them and want to be with them?
- How does it help a child to see a screen as their teacher, rather than a real person — what do they do when they have a problem they need to solve, and they don’t have the early, repeated experiences of asking an adult to help them?
- What are you saying to your child about the value of learning if you can’t spend the time yourself to do it with them? (In the commercial for Your Baby Can Read, the announcer asks one thrilled parent of three early readers, “And did you have to do anything?” The mother replies with joy, “I didn’t have to do a thing!”)
And another thing: Early reading doesn’t do much for your child’s success in school, and there’s evidence that it may even be detrimental.
Let’s take a look at a few points in that regard – and note that this list is only a few of many reasons why early reading is a lousy deal for your child.
- Louise Bates Ames, PhD, a superstar in child development and the director of research at the world-renowned Gesell Institute of Child Development, stated that “a delay in reading instruction would be a preventative measure in avoiding nearly all reading failure.” Leapfrogging necessary cognitive developmental skills — and asking a young brain to do tasks for which it isn’t truly ready — is asking for trouble with learning.
- The brains of young children aren’t yet developed enough to read without it costing them in the organization and “wiring” of their brain. The areas involved in language and reading aren’t fully online — and aren’t connected — until age seven or eight. If we’re teaching children to do tasks which their brains are not yet developed to do via the “normal” (and most efficient) pathways, the brain will stumble upon other, less efficient ways to accomplish the tasks — which lays down wiring in some funky ways — and can lead to later learning disabilities, including visual-processing deficits.
- The description of brain development on which the “Your Baby Can Read” program rests its questionable claims is remarkably flawed, confusing language acquisition with reading. They state: “A baby’s brain thrives on stimulation and develops at a phenomenal pace…nearly 90% during the first five years of life! The best and easiest time to learn a language is during the infant and toddler years, when the brain is creating thousands of synapses every second — allowing a child to learn both the written word and spoken word simultaneously, and with much more ease….” There is a huge and unsupported leap here from language acquisition – which is definitely an important developmental task, necessary for connecting to one’s outer world – and reading, which is a very different neurological and cognitive task, and one which is not developmentally appropriate for a baby or toddler’s brain.
- Does early training really get you anywhere? There is a classic study of twins which was done by another pioneer in child development, Arnold Gesell, PhD, MD. He studied a pair of toddler twins, who were not yet able to climb stairs. For the study, one of the twins was given daily practice and encouragement to climb stairs, and the other twin had no stairs to practice on. After six weeks of practice, the “trained” twin could climb the stairs, and the “untrained” twin could not. However, within one week of being given the opportunity to climb stairs, the untrained twin completely caught up with the trained twin’s stair-climbing ability.
- The whole idea that learning to read early gives children — or our educational system, or our economy — an “advantage” is not based on empirical evidence. If you look at the US and Britain, you see the trends toward earlier reading and increasingly less successful educational systems. On the other hand, the majority of children in Finland begin instruction in reading at age seven – two years later than here in the US (and even later than the folks at “Your Baby Can Read” would have you start). The outcome? Finnish students not only catch up to their earlier-starting counterparts, but they surpass the United States, other European countries, and Asian countries as well, with top overall scores in the world in reading, science, and math. Oh, and the Finnish do attend preschool, but it isn’t “academic” in nature — it emphasizes social development and exploration.
I’ve always been lazy about the teaching. I love reading books with the kids but I don’t force them to remember the words. They will learn on their own. I did.
When I was 7 (the proper developmental age for reading), I suddenly picked up a book and began to read. Within months I devoured all of Enid Blyton’s books and then moved to Carolyn Keene. I never stopped.
I believe kids will learn in their own time, as unschooling parents do. Wolf potty trained himself on his own time, and he is learning to count, in his own time. He rarely nurses in public anymore and some days never even nurses at all till bedtime.
It is tempting (and I do too for some quiet) to let Wolf watch a video on the iPod (since we have no TV). This article reminds me about the message I am giving him. Not a good one. I need to reframe my thoughts and yes, I need my downtime, but perhaps there is something we can do together that we both love, like look at dinosaur books.
(Just had an idea to sit with him and print out his fave dinosaur pictures, then cut and paste them into a notebook that we can read together. Yay activity!)
Most importantly, I want my children to love learning. They can’t do it if we keep shoving learning down their throats, years before the schools start.
I remember losing my love for learning when I entered school. But thankfully, my first 5 years at home gave me a strong foundation of that love and after I finally finished school, I began teaching myself again: to fix things, to write code, to sew.
That is the gift I want to give my children.
The years pass too quickly. I must remember to cherish every moment.
My best friend Shen just gave me a great idea for painting when you have 2 kids. You see, since Kitten was mobile, we stopped all painting activities at home because she would just get into the paint and eat it. So Shen, who has two as well, had a great idea of having her son paint in the shower. The bonus is that Wolf would be contained.