Being a teacher and now a parent, I have made up my mind to ‘educate’ my son and not ‘literate’ him. I choose to educate him and use literacy as a mere tool in the process of education. You may wonder why? What is the difference in education and literacy? How can a parent educate a child?
Literacy is the ability of person to read, write, count and calculate. Whereas education is a process of exploration, inventing truth and possibility, of encouraging and giving time to discovery. In words of esucationist John Dewey (1916) education is a social process – ‘a process of living and not just preparation for future living’.
I choose to educate to bring out or develop potential and make the act of attaining education an enlightening process for not just my son but also for me.
To simplify I choose education because it is an all round development of an individual that includes
- Mental or cognitive development
- Social and Emotional development
- Moral development
- Physical development
Is there an appropriate age to begin education? Well, a parent becomes a teacher and a learner at the same time, as soon as the child is born. Here I list some tips to cater to all round and holistic development of a child. Some of these can be followed from as early as 6 months of age. Most of the suggested activities can be done with toddlers and preschoolers.
It includes development of perception, language skill, information and development of other aspects of the brain.
- sing along with your baby. Singing the same rhymes and songs would aids memory. The child recalls the lyrics and tunes and tries to memorize them.
- Practice colors, counting, alphabet, shapes etc. This can be done time and again through out the day. You may ask the child to count the spoons or dishes, spot the colour of the vehicles on the street, shout out spellings or letters that different words begin with.
- Play a variety of games
- Offer choices. Simple choices like – would you like to wear a red t-shirt or brown shirt? Should we visit the park or the store first?
- Boost your knowledge and disseminate it to your child. As a parent learn, learn and learn and then teach. Be it some science facts, current affair topics or legends of historic men, have at least one such informative discussion with your child a day.
- Help your toddler keep focus and express interest in the activities they do.
- Spark curiosity and the desire to learn. Answer the question your child asks. Put forth queries about mundane things that are around.
- Support mastery. The key to confidence building lies in providing just the right amount of support your child needs. motivate to try an activity another time if the child has failed the first time.
- Provide task difficult enough to generate interest but achievable too
- Provide opportunities for arranging, sequencing, sorting and counting etc.
Social and Emotional Development
The emotional aspect of development relates to a child understanding and controlling their internal emotions while balancing external social elements.
Babies are born communicators, they are capable of expressing their emotions nd needs freely. As their needs are met, they build a strong bond with their caregivers and family members. That is when the process of relationship building begins.
Preschoolers develop their social and emotional skills through a wide network of social relationships including other adults and children.
- Communicate with your child right from birth. Your child conveys himself to you so effortlessly and effectively, are you doing the same?
- Provide opportunities to interact with others. Visit public places, parks, indoor and outdoor play areas where a child can interact with other kids.
- Laugh, play and smile together
- Respond to your child’s needs. He has his signals for intimating you whether he wants to sleep or play or eat
- Stay connected with the extended family members
- Discuss various emotions in everyday conversation. Eg: I had so much fun playing with you today, I feel so happy when I see you dance, are you feeling sad because your friend did not come to play?
- Be affectionate and warm
- For the times when you lose your patience, apologize
- Allow the child to solve his problems himself, or at least try his best to do so
- Praise his efforts not just his achievements
- Involve the child in rituals and cultural activities
- Allow the child to express his strong emotions like anger. Decide acceptable ways of expressing such emotions – punch a pillow, stomp your feet, crumble a paper.
In my opinion, morals and values are on their way to extinction. Values are overlooked as every individual is pre occupied with fulfilling their own desires by hook or by crook. Parents have an added responsibility to instill an understanding of morality from infancy.
- Never ever lie to the child right from infancy. I find most parents point out in a direction and say there is a bird there, to distract the child. We often lie to our kids, not realising they ape what they observe
- Forgive your child and ask for forgiveness
- Ask your child for help in everyday chores and be grateful for the help received
- Build conscious [good/bad] This can be done through play, story telling and discussion. Eg: Make two puppets – a wise and the other not so nice. Narrate different stories that explain what makes the wise one good and the other one not so nice.
- Be sensitive towards your child. He will learn to be sensitive towards others.
- Teach to empathize and sympathize. Teach your child to ‘put themselves in someone’s shoes’ learn to understand and respect other’s perspective.
- Respect your child and they learn to respect
- Involve grandparents and extended family members [use video calling]
- Narrate legends, historical incidents and mythological stories they all have morals to learn from
- Praise moral behavior like being kind, generous and putting others need before their own
- Take your child to visit sick family members and prepare cards for them
- Make your toddler care for a plant or a pet. Or pretend to parent a doll
- Most importantly, be a role model for your child. Let go off your ego, grudges and be the person you want your child to grow up and become
The area of physical development is that most parents think of first – the child’s general ability to move around and use the various parts of his body. Whole psyche and body goes hand in hand as an infant grows
Gross motor skills:
rolling over, crawling, walking, running and jumping
Fine motor skills:
drawing, colouring, tying laces, buckling, buttoning, cutting, tearing etc
- Go for walks and runs with your child
- Pretend to be different animals and birds
- Play games like hide and seek, fire in the mountain, lock and key etc
- Prepare a hurdle course in the living room
- Skipping rope
- Using sticks to trace letters on the floor
- Catching, throwing and kicking a ball
- Nail art
- Making different craft items
- Sand play
- Water play
- Encourage healthy eating habits
Toddlers and pre schoolers are a power house of energy and enthusiasm. Everything new is fun and games. As parents let’s bank on this and make the most of these young formative years of our children
Happy educating 🙂
I would love to hear some more ideas in the comments below
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