Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Learning Exercises

I love books. When I was in elementary and subsequently high school, my favorite place was the library. I loved having a library card and filling in the slots in my library card with borrowed books. At one point in time, I was even Library Club President! Well, I wanted to pass on this love of reading to my children so of course me and my husband started reading to our children very early. We started reading to our eldest daughter when she was less than a year old and we continue to do so until now. Those reading sessions at night are now my main bonding sessions with my daughter since I work the whole day and only get to see her when I leave for work (9-930am) and when I get home late at night (8-830pm). These reading sessions also allow us to check her learning progress and provide cues as to whether or not we should be introducing new concepts to her to further her development.

For example, in earlier posts, I mentioned that most of the baby books geared to kids 18 months and older talked about shapes and colors, so we naturally started teaching her about shapes and colors first.She learned to identify the different colors and we would ask her to tell us the color of every day things, ask her what's the color of our clothes and her clothes, what's the color of the sofa etc. Same thing with shapes, we would run through the different shapes together and ask her to identify each one and then we would practice by asking her to identify the shape of every day things. We used books and puzzles. She had some confusion at first, which is natural, and mixed up the colors a bit, and had difficulty saying the name of the shapes such as triangle and rectangle, which is quite a mouthful for a 2 year old, but she eventually got all the basic shapes and colors right.

 Puzzle on Shapes

     Book on Colors

While learning shapes and colors she was also going through Baby Einstein flashcards and learning about animals, nature, and every day objects. We were also exposing her to the alphabet and to numbers by letting her play with alphabet blocks as well as alphabet and number puzzles and teaching her what each letter and number looked like and sounded like. At night when her dad took her out for walks around the neighborhood, they would also practice number recognition by looking at the car park numbers in the community parking lot.  

Alphabet and number puzzles

Then a week or two ago, she started to spell out the letters on her Baby Einstein flashcards. She was holding up a picture of a cow and then she said 'see' and I thought 'Oh she wants me to look at the card' and I said 'Yes, I see, it's a cow' and then she kept saying 'see' 'see' and I still couldn't get what she was trying to tell me, then she said 'oh' and then it hit me. She's trying to spell! So I told my husband we should help her to start to spell and get magnetic letters and numbers for her to play around with, since the current wooden puzzles we had seemed a bit static and less fun to play with.

 Playing with magnetic letters

Magnetic letters: Uppercase numbers 

She's been having fun with it and showing off. So while we're having dinner, she'll be playing in one corner and then rushing back and forth to the dinner table carrying her magnetic letters and then shouting each letter out to us. Once she's more comfortable with it. We'll start helping her spell out simple three-letter words and then gradually build up to four, five letter words and so on.

We are also supplementing her learning with books and flashcards. 

Learning ABC

Learning Numbers

And all of these learning tools are either borrowed from the library (books, mostly) or quite cheap (puzzles, flashcard and magnetic letters and board cost about SGD6-7 each). Or one can even have D-I-Y materials. For example, since a whole wall in our living room was filled with my daughter's artwork, he just wrote the numbers and shapes on some paper so my daughter can easily go up to the wall and practice that way as well. 

Wall graffiti: Numbers 

Wall graffiti: Shapes

And as with any learning exercise, it's always good to practice positive reinforcement. We always clap and tell her 'very good' and 'good job' each time she recognizes a letter or number correctly. It gets her enthusiastic and excited about learning. In fact, she's trying to teach her younger sister as well. We'll have to see how that works out though.    


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