Monday, May 17, 2010

Practical Academic Teaching for Moms

Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Brian and I have chosen to home school Addie once she reaches "school age". This is a decision that we have prayerfully made, and we believe this is the course that God wants our family to take. It is not the same course that He has directed every family to take. For some, the public school system works well (Faye and I went to a public school for a short time- me from K5 through 5th grade, and Faye for Kindergarten. We were both home schooled through high school after our time in public school. Currently, Faye is a 3rd grade teacher at a public charter school.). Both Faye and I taught at a private Christian school, which is another option for a child's formal education. Whatever the choice that you feel God directing you in for your child's education, it is vital to your child's success that you as a parent be very involved.

Children are capable of learning incredible amounts of information in a very short period of time. In fact, it is said that the foundation for all that a child will learn happens within the first 4 to 5 years of a child's life. However, when children begin a formal education, it is at the end of their most receptive time. Therefore, we are not waiting for that time to come before we begin teaching Addie academic things. In just two years, I am amazed at what she knows. Not only has she learned a language and how to use it, but she has also learned morals at a very basic level, colors, shapes, and how to read site words.

When Addie turned 3 months, I wanted to start teaching her (the teacher in me couldn't wait to get started with her). However, when I thought about all that I wanted this little 3 month old person to learn, the thought became overwhelming. How do I teach her? Where do I start? What do I do?

Yes, I had been in the teaching profession for 11 years, but because I taught 4th and 5th grades, I never actually had to teach someone something from the ground level. I taught them how to use the information they already knew at a higher and deeper level. Here I was starting from scratch.

I brought my daughter and her education to the Lord, and in just a few weeks, He allowed me to find many resources that have helped Addie fly academically. Yes, it requires time to prepare, and yes, it requires my participation for her to fully grasp certain concepts, but that has always been my goal as a mother- to be the primary educator in my child's life.
Over the next few days, I am going to give you the names of the resources that we used, how we used them, and where Addie is right now because of each product. I am not receiving any type of benefit from this post. It is just one mom (me) sharing what helped her with other moms (you) who are looking for this type of information.

Board books: We surrounded Addie with a variety of board books from infancy. However, until about 6 months ago, we did not actually read the books the way they were written. I would give a baby friendly "reading" of the story to her, using the pictures on the page to tell the story. Here is an example of one of the books I used. (You totally have to imagine me pointing to every picture and being very expressive with lots of inflection, squeals, and smiles in my voice...we are dealing with babies here.)

Look, Mama! It's Noah! One day, God told Noah, "I want you to build a BIG boat." So Noah obeyed God, and he built a BIG boat. Then God said, "I want you to put lots of animals on the big boat!" So he did. There were lions that go ROAR, and sheep that go BAAAAA, and giraffes that have long necks- not like Addie who doesn't have a neck (She was a very chunky baby. There was no space between her chin and chest at the time), and zebras that have stripes, and bears that go ROAR, and turtles that move v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, and butterflies that fly and flit and land on your nose (I used my fingers to fly around and then land on her nose). God made all the animals. Then after 40 days it stopped raining, so Noah sent out a bird that goes TWEET-TWEET! Then God said, "I'm never going to send that much rain again!" so he put a rainbow in the sky. Then Noah came out of the big boat with his two little bunny rabbits that go BOING-BOING. (The picture on the page shows Noah with two rabbits.) The End.

We video taped her getting a reading of the story. When she saw the book as a four month old, she began kicking and flapping her arms. When I would say "The End", she would stop moving and look around. When I pulled the book back up, the arms and legs would go into hyper drive again.

I told that story the exact same way for so long, that I wrote it out completely from memory without the book in front of me for reference. Children (and their parents) learn through repetition so it is important that the way you read or tell a story to your child is the way you always read or say it. One thing I realized as I was typing out the story is that most of the animal sounds and the animal names that Addie said first came from this account.

Books with the Bible accounts, alphabets, numbers, colors, and just stories in general can hold valuable storehouse of information for your child to learn, especially if you do not read them as is. They are learning, you just don't realize it at the time. Once, while Addie was watching an approved episode of Sesame Street, as numbers were being called out and shown, she began calling them out. She also began recognizing the numbers 2 and 5. Another time, as I was buckling her in her car seat, she began counting, "Five, six, seven, eight!" Did I care that she didn't start at one (which she absolutely refuses to say for some reason)? Absolutely not! My still one year old at the time was counting! I don't know when it clicked, but it did.

A great (and unexpected) place to pick up board books is your local Dollar Tree. Most of the ones we picked up for Addie (excluding the ones that she was given by family and friends) were picked up there. Target also has a great selection of board books in their $1 bins at the front of the store.

The library has a really nice selection of board books, also. Addie knows the drill at the library- we go to the book drop, Addie puts her books through the slot, she runs to the little tables in the children's area, climbs into a chair next to the board books, and waits for me to bring her a few books. I usually bring home five to six books...and we read and reread those books until Brian is begging me to return them and get some new ones.

The library also offers free group classes, story time, movies, and craft classes. Some offer classes by age group and others offer them based on seasons. The size and location of your library will also determine the types of classes offered and how often they are available. Kristi from Team Mac has a great library near her that offers classes several times a week. Seasonally, ours offers classes once a week. I have already written down on our calendar the classes that Addie and I will be attending during the summer.

The most important thing to remember is doing something with your child is better than doing nothing. Much of what they learn is what they pick up from their everyday interactions with us. Lord willing, tomorrow we will be looking at specific videos that we used with Addie. On Wednesday, we will look at the Your Baby Can Read curriculum and other workbooks that I have used. On Thursday, I will share with you some puzzles and games that have also helped in teaching Addie. I am really excited to share these tips with you.


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