(warning, this post is incredibly long, but has been 3 weeks in the making. Please proceed with caution. And patience. And a sense of humor.)
**Edit** I have taken the post and split it into 4 parts/posts.
I've been thinking lately about the big IF's. What would I do if.... How would I prepare If.....?
And we all know that I don't have a child.
(no duh, right? I wouldn't have the time to write this incredibly long post if I did!)
But I do have a lot of opinions on educational materials and experiences and I believe they are well researched and have credentials.
AND, I do have over 8 years of education experience and over 10 years of early childhood experience. I worked as a preschool teacher in high school, planning lessons, learning as I went, and got my certification in 11th grade.
On top of all that, I was nannying for a (then) first and fourth grader, which included about 1-2 hours of tutoring 4 days a week. I continued that for the next 7 years! They are so grown up now, (Starting 9th and 12th this Fall,) but I loved the experience of working with them for so long!
On top of THAT (everything kind of overlapped,) I was getting my Elementary Education degree, babysitting like a storm, then graduated and "taught" 3rd grade for a little bit. Now, I am tutoring a 1st, 4th, and 6th grader, and it has gotten my "teacher" mind wheels turning, about what I would do, and why. I have been researching, reading, and discussing, to find out what works, what works best, and why it all works.
So, not having a child (yet,) hasn't stopped me from digging deep and figuring out some basic ideas. I thought I would write them down here to remember for years down the road.
Or, you know, just to laugh at when I have three kids and don't have a minute of time for any of this.
But if we are playing the hypothetical game, indulge me.
So, IF we had a child, here are my opinions on educational ideas and materials that would be MUST Haves (for us anyways.)
In Infancy to Early Toddler Years
I am in no way saying that your child needs to be a genius by the age of 14 months (though wouldn't that be cool?!) but I do think that being active in your child's brain development is essential. While teaching we would get to see some pretty interesting surveys and studies that were done that looked into the connection with academic success and parental involvement. In case you didn't know....it has a very high correlation.
Ian and I have talked about things that we expect to do with our (future) children and it includes the following (pretty common sense) list:
-Music, music, MUSIC! And not just classical or lullabies either (though I might just be the biggest classical music fan out there. That and big band music. Mrs. Angela once called me an old soul...I think she's right.) There is this sweet Led Zeppelin lullaby collection by "Rockabye Baby!" that we will definitely be utilizing. (the music is a little kerplunky and xylaphoney, but it does it's job.) Have different types of music for different times of the day. We might have a set of cd's by our cd player ready to go for a day, or have a playlist designed to go for different times of the day. I've already been accumulating my set for years now, and one day I'll share with you what we love for kids.
-Books! Read as much as possible. Not only does it exposure your child to a myriad of vocabularies, (please don't only read baby books.....that does not help,) but it teaches your child that there are certain times we sit quietly, even while we want to do other things. Make sure you point to the words as you go, use good pacing, and use intonation, all of which are reading skills we develop. And have babyproof books that can be played with ie: Board books and Tub books.
-Songs- And no, this isn't the same as "Music." I mean the little songs you sing to your child throughout the day. You know.... ABC's, Twinkle Twinkle, He's Got the Whole World In His Hands, The French National Anthem....
You don't sing the French National Anthem to your child? How strange.
To a child I rocked asleep 3 nights a week for her first two years of life.
Then she started singing it. Her parents thought she was a French speaking prodigy until I cleared the situation up.
Too bad the anthem is so brutally grotesque. What? You've never read the French National Anthem? Oh sheez. Okay, read HERE. Enjoy.
What? So sue me. I didn't think she'd pick up on it! It's not like I acted it out or anything. She was sleeping.
Ehem. Anyways. My point is that songs are really great for teaching before your child seems able to learn. So crack out those old "Schoolhouse Rocks" songs and get ready for a two year investment of very annoying songs.
-Toys (you'll hear my rant on battery run toys later.) For now, stick to simple "baby toys." And I mean SIMPLE people! Stacking, sorting, nesting, or music making toys, are all in the route to go with. Brands like Lamaze or websites like FatBrainToys or GrowingTreeToys all have the "classic," type of toys we should be looking for.
See? I told you this as much for me, as for you! I now have a list of toys, companies, and ideas that I can refer to one day down the road. I'm very excited about the rest of the posts in this series. Any other suggestions for this age group?