Children, aged toddler to eight, typically spend six to eight hours a day in school or daycare and 10-12 hours a day sleeping. That leaves, at minimum, four hours a day for eating, playing, sports, homework, and family time. It’s here that we are faced with dilemma. Four hours is very little time. After working all day then tending to the daily chores we are often too tired to make any great attempt to entertain or educate our children. Perhaps this is why some feel that the education part should be left all up to the daycare and/or school.
As a parent, I feel that the parent should be the child’s greatest teacher. I don’t want to take anything away from those who do it as a profession. I hold teachers to the highest of honor. A child’s first teacher is the parent and according to Dr. Laura J Martin, WebMD, babies begin to learn in the last trimester of pregnancy. The mother is laying the foundation for the child’s language development. A mother talking to her baby bump, is not only building a bond but also teaching the child. According to BRAIN FACTS it is that mothers continuous talking to the child after birth that boosts the child’s vocabulary. As Brain Facts points out, children whose mothers talk to them, learn on average 300 more words by age two. Now, you may think 300 words is not much, but it’s the difference between talking to a child pointing to a glass of milk and grunting rather than stating, “May I have milk?” With a vocabulary of greater than 300 words a child is able to string words together to form short sentences.
My granddaughter, at the age of two told me, “Nana, I love to talk”. She has always had a great vocabulary. I’m often surprised by things she says and her ability to understand conversations. At the age of three, during a battle between her brother and cousin, she became disgusted by the arguing and bluntly exclaimed to them that they needed to learn to compromise. She then proceeded to explain exactly what compromise meant. At the age of four, after a walk through the woods with her grandpa and brother, she came home to tell the story of how her brother wasn't allowed to go on the walks anymore because he was too loud and the nocturnal animals did not appreciate that.
Now, while you are trying to decide how to best utilize those four meager hours a day consider this… talk to your child. Teach your child words to build their vocabulary. Tell them stories from your childhood, about your parents, about life and about anything that comes to your mind. Listen to their reaction; listen to the words they choose to tell their stories. Have conversations with them where you interact with each other. A child’s simple story about how she followed a butterfly through the yard can be just the door to open to teach her about the cocoon from which it came.
Belinda @ Kids Matter