Friday, November 11, 2011

Early Childhood Education - How much time to spend on it?

I think the questions most parents struggle with are "When do I start sending my kid to school?" and "When do I start teaching my child?"  Personally, I wouldn't be sending my child to preschool until he is 4. To be honest, sending him at 4 is really more for the social aspect than it is for the learning. I feel most of the learning can easily be taught at home. The important thing to remember is to keep learning FUN for kids at such young ages. My little boy is definitely not one who will sit still and listen to mom or dad lecture on about learning which makes me mentally start preparing to be extra creative when he's truly ready to learn more. You can always teach your child/baby at any age; however, true collective learning will probably start once your child can communicate well with you. When that happens, start with learning and recognizing numbers, counting numbers, phonics (individual letter sounds - not words), colors, shapes, and more of the basics. Most preschools charge a fee to have your child there and most schools require your child to be potty-trained. If a social aspect is what you're seeking for, join a local play group or start your own.  Some churches have a childrens' class on Sundays. My 21-month-old goes to "nursery" class at church for 2 hours each Sunday and he loves playing with the toys and kids there. You can even start your very own mini-preschool with friends at your homes. Take turns being the "teacher". At such young ages, it is great to not only learn the fundamentals needed for kindergarten and elementary school, but it is a great time to learn music and the arts. Allow your little one to immerse in creativity. For ages baby-4, I would rather spend my extra cash on sending them to music, tumbling, or art classes!

So how long should you spend teaching your child everyday? Honestly, every child is different. Some kids can sit for hours at 2 years old while others can only do 5-10 mins sessions at a time. Go with your child's personality! When your kid starts fussing, whining, acting out, or even crying, that's when you definitely know enough is enough. That being said, it is always good to have time structure at home. Dedicate a specific time each day to teaching and learning with your child. He/she loves structure and will soon get used to the routine. Please please do not push your child so hard, they end up crying. They are young enough that if they are a little slower at learning, it does not matter as much. You just need to keep teaching the same thing in different and creative ways until your child gets the concept. Encourage them with reward charts, stickers, or treats. Kids respond well to positive reinforcements!!! Remember, learning needs to be FUN! This way, your child will gain an appreciation and hunger for learning. That being said, you don't have to dress as Barney every time to teach (but hey...if it works...let me know).  "FUN" means the child is having a positive and good time learning and looks forward to your one-to-one learning sessions each day!

Please do share what you do with your children and how you get them to be interested in learning. Will love to hear all your stories...good and bad! :)

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