Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Learning to count and learning to slow down

When I first started teaching colors, numbers, and letters to Regus #1, he was about 2 1/2 (and Regus #2 was around 6 months). Teaching concepts to a toddler and having a newborn was initially daunting for me. Then, I thought about other friends and family that had many more kids than I did, and they clearly figured out how to do teach their toddlers with a baby in tow. I don't know that I figured it out, but I just made do.

Initially, I tried teaching him about numbers and pairs and colors (the basics) at the kitchen table. If you were paying attention, you're probably laughing now... trying to get a 2 1/2 year old boy to sit still at the kitchen table is pretty hilarious. I just couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong... he just didn't care to learn. Was there something wrong with him? Was there something wrong with me? Yes, it was a downward spiral. It's laughable now, but I was distraught then. After some searching, I found a great online curriculum: Brightly Beaming Resources. This site was put together by another mom. She has shared some basic curriculum for teaching children of all ages (from babies to elementary ages). From reading over her ideas, I found that I was trying to cram in too much information each day. Instead, I starting covering a few concepts (one letter, one color, one new word) a week at a time. Plus, I ditched the table as our place of learning. Now, I was using toys, books, and household items to teach him. One of her tips is to have a "learning board" that covers everything you cover that week. I used a cork board, and it was (and still is) his favorite part. When we finished something, he was eager to post it on the board. Then, when Daddy came home, he would pull him over to his board to show what he learned that day. He was really having fun! And I was no longer pulling out my hair.

It was at this point that he was really struggling with counting. I couldn't get him to go past the number two. Uh, oh... time to get frustrated again. Not this time. The search began for something or some way to teach him.

He loves to be moving. Can I use this movement to help him?

After scouring through his toys, I found these toy screws. As you can see, I stood them up on the screw head. Next, I asked him to say a number, as he was knocking each one down: one, two, three. After demonstrating, he tried it; and he said, "One, Two, THREE!!" I think I cheered for several minutes. He did it!! Normally, I would rush to the next number. Instead, we stayed on the number 3 for a whole week. Everywhere, we found sets of 3 things and counted them. At the grocery store, let's find 3 apples. In the kitchen, let's find 3 spoons. Outside, let's find 3 pine cones. He was having a blast, and I was honored to watch him love to learn.

At 5 years old, he's now counting to 100. His favorite thing to do right now is reading the house numbers on mail boxes. If we've been to your house, he knows your house number... so funny!

I must give recognition to a friend for helping me get him to 100. We both had the 1-100 number chart, but I could never keep him focused. She suggested using a flashlight to point to each number, as he says it.

Boy + dimly lit room + flash light = A winning combination

It worked like a charm to keep him interested. Thanks, Stephanie!!

I'm learning to embrace the constant motion that defines boys. Don't push it aside or try to stop it. Use it to fuel their love to learn. They really do love to learn!


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