Saturday, October 15, 2011

Early Learning Activities

I tend to do really well for a while, then get busy and slow down, then refocus again. It hasn't worked for us to try to have a timed schedule (X at 10 am), but I've found that if I combine the learning activities with certain repetitive elements of our day then I am much more successful. We have a semi-routine going which I hope to expand.

Things we are currently doing (in random order):

*Word cards - once or twice a day when we go to the park by our house, around 5-10 cards a day. Right now we're doing animal names, so we play a game where I am the animal on the card and I chase him around.

*Math - Doman's dot equations, we're currently on multiplication and I've begun introducing numerals. He likes the equations but doesn't like it if I just show him the cards and tell him the numbers, so we only did the individual dot cards up to fifty, several months ago. We play a game where he jumps on the bed while I show him the equation, then he gets to throw the answer card in the air.

*Encyclopedic Knowledge - we do this on the computer, mostly in the afternoons after naptime when he doesn't mind sitting for bits. The amount we do depends on him, but I try to get in at least 3 sets, and sometimes do up to 8. We often end up looking at one he likes several times. I use many different resources for this (Picture Dictionary from the IAHP, powerpoint presentations, Memory Lifter, and plain picture files I saved from Wikipedia.) I try to do ones that show the word then the picture, but sometimes we just do pictures. I have just started to introduce some Chinese characters with pronunciations (animals).

*Physical Activities - we usually go to the park by our house twice a day (morning and afternoon). I use the time to encourage him to run, climb up and slide down, swing, walk on a homemade balance beam (a door frame someone threw into the park that I propped up on some stones so we go around in a half rectangle), and imaginative free play.

*Music - when Raccoon was 19 months, I took him to a band concert because I wanted to go. I expected to leave before it was over because my son is VERY active and has wanted to be in constant motion since birth. I was shocked when he sat quietly through the whole thing (an hour and a half) and asked for more after each song was done. I think he has an ear for music because whenever I start to sing (with my out of tune voice), he looks at me with a pained expression and says, "No singing, Mama." He fell in love with the violin around the same time as the concert, then added the piano and the guitar as his favorite instruments. Right now, we listen to Baby Einstein CDs in the car and I just got some Suzuki violin CDs which he likes. "I like. This no weird music," was how he put it the first time he listened to the Suzuki CDs and he sat right down to play his imaginary piano. I'm currently looking for ways to expand this part of our program.

*Art - we used to take an art class at Gymboree, but his last one was just before his birthday and I decided not to re-enroll him. We did Gymboree from 7 months until he was 23 months old and we mostly enjoyed it (Play and Learn, then Music, then Art). But for now I feel like he really needs more time at home and less time out-and-about, so I plan to do more art things at home. We periodically do painting, glue and glitter, play dough, and scribbling with crayons, marker, or a pen.

*Reading Aloud - Raccoon takes a nap after lunch. I used to let him fall asleep watching a video, but after reading about how television actually disrupts sleep (we've had a lot of sleep troubles), I decided to change this habit. Now I read to him until he falls asleep. The only book I had handy the first day was the Fellowship of the Ring, and he seemed to like it so we've continued. Now he asks for Frodo and Elbow (Bilbo). I usually read about 4 pages before he's nodded off. We also read his books together, usually about 4-5 a day.

*TV - for several months we fell into the trap of watching too much TV. Raccoon has a lot of food sensitivities and struggles with stomach issues, so he was still nursing heavily up until recently. Every time we nursed, I would turn on a video for him and use it for computer time for me, but by 22 months or so, it felt like all we were doing all day was nursing and watching TV. I decided we needed a radical change, so we rearranged the bedroom, taking out the nursing chair and the TV. Now if he wants to nurse, we lie down on the bed (a victory for me since before that he would only nurse in his chair, even at night). It didn't take long for him to cut back to nursing just twice a day, naptime and nighttime, since it was pretty boring if he wasn't falling asleep. I have to admit that I missed my computer time, but overall it's better for us. I tried to cut out TV altogether, but he tolerates sitting and eating better if he's distracted, so we compromised and he gets to watch 30 minutes at mealtimes, and sometimes more if I really need/want to get something done. Right now he watches children's movies (we started with Baby Einstein and moved on to other things like A Bug's Life, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc). My goal is to eventually switch most of his TV time over to documentaries or educational DVDs, but it depends a lot on having money to purchase new ones.

*Bible Verses & Memorization - I hope to start this soon but am waiting until I can purchase a color cartridge for my printer. I made up pages to put in plastic covers in a binder.

Looking it all written down it may seem like a lot, but not everything happens every day, although I wish I was that organized. We usually have one or two really good days a week where everything goes really well and we do almost all of the activities, another three days where we do about half, and the rest are often busy with other things.

No comments:

Post a Comment