Last week I wrote about my son having a tablet, which we got for him in the hopes that it would help him develop his expressive language skills, but it also brought up educational questions. This week I would like to talk a little about how I do teach him, and why I hate ABC Mouse by extension.
Here in the States, children’s TV programming is inundated with ads for this educational app. When we go to a mall I do my best to avoid these hawks. I mean, salespeople. Really, though, they see you have a kid and they swoop right in and use their car salesperson skills to try to talk you into it.
I didn’t buy it. Literally and figuratively. We had talked about, had considered educational apps for our son. I watched him and he just never focused on a game for more than 5 minutes. I didn’t see this little gray mouse working.
But we decided to give it a try. Meaning, I checked it out. For one, we hate that it focuses more on sight reading than phonics. My husband and I both learned to read phonetically, so, no brainer, so will our kids. I also hated those lesson plans with their avalanche of coloring pages, repetitive games, and tracing pages that had to be completed before the child could move on. I saw my son getting bored very quickly with 10000000 pages just on the letter A just so he could move on to the numbers 1-10 and then the colors, followed by B… Nope. He knew all that, but those were the lessons for his age!
I even handed the tablet over to him so he could try it. 30 seconds on A was all I could coax out of him. Peak boredom set in at 10 seconds. I spent the next 20 seconds trying to encourage him. He blew raspberries at me instead.
Okay, that mouse had to go. Xena, I have a treat for you! (She doesn’t actually catch or eat any rodents)
I don’t have a background in education, but I do in psychology and child development and have worked with kids off and on for over 10 years. I was convinced I could teach him myself.
Now, my son will be 4 this summer and is not currently in preschool. But he’s a smart cookie, so I just plan to teach him the basics to prepare him for Kindergarten.
Yes, my toddler has a tablet. No, we don’t do any educational lessons on the tablet or use any educational apps.
I’m starting off simple, a subject a day. We do one of the following each day over a six day period, not including the weekends: letters, numbers, reading, science, history, and art. Sometimes he’s not really interested, so we do a minute or two. Sometimes he really wants to learn so we go as long as he is willing to. And absolutely none of it is done with a device.
For letters and numbers, we work on recognition and counting higher than 10. I try to do this incidentally as we play. I see a letter and ask him what it is. We sing songs and I throw in the ABCs. We look at a clock and count to 12. So far he recognizes all the letters with a little time, his song sadly leaves out N, and he can count to 16.
Reading is sort of easy. He’s not always interested, but I can usually talk him into 1 book while he runs around the living room. But I ask questions and he answers usually correctly, so it’s a work in progress.
Science and history for a toddler are a little trickier, but can be fun. He goes to Tinkergarten classes, which are outside and have a good science lesson once a week. Otherwise he loves space these days and identifying his sister’s body parts. History is usually telling him where he was born, where mom and dad and their families came from, and learning about the globe.
Art days are my favorite. We paint, draw, color, or bake. It’s fun and we usually wait until his sister naps, so it’s really just mom and son time.
I love teaching him what I can. I love having control over what he learns and being able to go at his pace and working with his interests. I don’t have lesson plans. I don’t use apps. The tablet is off. The toys are out. It’s fun. I hope he learns education is fun.
Mostly, I love not being at the mercy of an app.