So here are some tried and tested, simple ways in which we can extend as well as accelerate our child's learning at home.
With a lot of parents moving towards considering home schooling as an option and giving their personal and professional needs a backseat, it is evident that this generation of parents do believe that a lot of learning can happen at home. We invest our precious years to groom our kids.
1. Thinking with them:
When one thinks aloud with a child, one can extend the child's learning too. By thinking aloud, an adult indirectly encourages the child to tune in his thinking to his parents. A child can learn how to think in new ways and put their thoughts into words.
Here's how it can be put to practice:
When your child is playing with blocks and just finished creating something, think aloud about what you feel the child has created. Give them food for thinking further. That does not mean 'label' things for the child. In that way you are hampering his creativity!
At times some toddlers may not be able to vocalise what they would have created so give them a platform to express themselves.
Example: On seeing 3 year old Rohan create a wonderful creation out of blocks his mother told him, 'Oh I think that looks like a huge animal and what's that? Aah, is that a trunk?'
With that food for thought, Rohan immediately responded, 'Mumma, that's an elephant!'
2. Use mirror talk:
Providing children with feedback makes them feel they are noticed and their work is valued. Reflecting back what we see and hear them doing can extend learning by helping children become aware of their actions and thinking. Using mirror talk also gives us time to carefully observe and see what our child knows and can do.
At times this approach can be an eye opener for some parents too!
When roles are reversed and our child is behaving like us, we realise that our tiny toddler is actually picking up the smallest of our acts and behaviours. At times this may call for some self-introspection of our acts as parents.
3. Use rich vocabulary - avoid use of baby words:
The more complex and difficult words we use with our child, the richer their vocabularies will grow! There is a strong relationship between a child's vocabulary and his success in school. So here is an easy way to enhance their learning.
Read a lot to your child and use the most complex words with him. However don't forget to explain the meaning of the new words introduced to the child. He's registering it all in that tiny brain of his!
I was surprised when my 3.5 year old toddler used the word 'ruined' while making a regular conversation with me. When asked where he picked that word from he promptly replied, 'Oh wasn't Winne the Pooh's party ruined as all his acorns had fallen.'
Let me leave you all with some food for thought:
As parents, we all use some baby words. Baby talk has its place, but we also need to speak in real sentences. Our child will learn to speak well only if we teach him to do so.
Give away words like 'Duduu' (milk), 'Nee nee' (sleep) and so on however cute they may sound at an early age! WE are the one who introduce these cute words to our child and later send them to school to unlearn these terms and learn the correct words! Aren't we the ones making learning complex for them?