Tuesday’s Teacher’s Corner: Education with 20+ Educational Links
I do not have to tell you, being a parent is amazing! Joy, love and wisdom shared with a new generation while making beautiful memories. Parenting comes with so many facets. As parents we make choices from conception until they choose to leave our nest. (And even into the adult years at times.) One of the most important decisions we have as parents is our children’s education.
As we pray, plan and begin our children’s education journey; we will be faced with many questions. Every parent wants their child to succeed. You want your child to be successful and have a bright future, or you would not be reading this article. So, what it education?
Education is by definition: the process of giving or receiving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
As parents, we often place extremely high expectations on our children’s education. Why do we place so much emphasis in this area? Simple, as parents, we want our children to receive a great education. Understandably, it is very important. Let us not forget though, learning begins long before a standard and formal education. Naturally, our children should flow from learning through exploring and informally gaining wisdom, to transitioning into a more formal education. So where did the large gap come from? How did we go from learning to cramming as much information to retain as possible? This would take more time than I have to write and a few other rabbit trails. However, I do want to look at the transition period. No matter where you are in your child’s life, even just finding out you are expecting, this can be of use.
From the time parents seek wisdom and research results, scouring the web for the right preschool and/or training academy for their children. (Even Homeschoolers.) It brings me back to the “transition period” in a child’s life. If you have been a parent to multiple children, I do not have to tell you, it is different for each child. BUT, for the most part our children transition at a general age and desire to do “school”. So what is best for children? When is it right to ABC’s and worksheets? When is the best time to start formal education? I may get some flack for this post from both sides, but after 6 children I will answer with, when they are ready. However, I do believe you can teach your children from day 1. Don”t bail on me yet, just give me a chance to explain. I am by no means a child expert, but remember teaching in a classroom for the first time at 16- I absolutely loved it, and knew I wanted to be a teacher. Prior to that I helped with Kinder round up and different childcare learning pods, but that was the first time teaching. I do believe the public school system was created for ALL children to have a fair shot and school is taught in a way that is generally most effective in education at the most reasonable cost to the government. If you are looking for bashing on the public school system here, I am sorry you will not find it.
However, having your own children is very different. If you are a life learner, you can very easily transfer that to your children. You can sprinkle learning bits of fun learning into every day, even several times a day. And although your younger ones may not may not pick up memorization or difficult concepts, after teaching “Table School” for many years, I have seen how they can store bits and nuggets in all different subjects from a very young age. Later, when they are met with the school work to follow, they can usually zip right through them. But, I also am able to pick up on their interests at a very young age, which has been a key element in reading. Although I love to read, some of my children did not naturally “love” reading. However, they loved to be read to! We devoured books as a family in the evening read alouds after Bible time. My children loved sharing a giant room (our intentions were to make it into 3-4 bedrooms, but the kids want to share a room. So we found a way for them to have their own privacy and changing areas. BUT, this also made reading late into the night super easy. Enabling me to read great classics, books I did not care for them to read at a young age due to graphic scenes, and novels that may have cuss words. I could easily skip over a part or two. A great way to incorporate beautiful literature when they were young.
But, the transition I am referring to is the time of birth and toddler years to school age. I LOVE this age range. Ages 2-8 are AMAZING! A child can transform in as little as a couple weeks in this age range. Teaching in the preschool we used a checklist called ages and stages to make sure children were always progressing and grasping concepts. Although, there is not a race against a clock or competition with another student, I do find it essential to keep tabs informally at home with my children and their learning progression as well. I desire my children to not only have their needs met, but engaged with unlimited learning potential to be successful. We ALL want our children to succeed! So how can this be done? I have broken this age into 3 categories and supplied a general list of ideas to incorporate learning for this age group. This being a general post, over the Next three Tuesday’s I will go in depth with each age group.
Late Toddler Years:
Toddler years are so much fun! Fun for parents, fun for littles and family and friends. Toddlers are learning more than you know. Toddlers watch your reactions, your facial responses and cues, listen to your every word. And are finally vocalizing what you have been teaching them since birth. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. Have you been reading your child the same few story books each night before bed? Do they now sing their bedtime songs with you as you sing it for bed. Or like my toddlers did, ask for a new one to add too. Or in their terms, “anodder won mommy”, “peeze”!
Natural tendency of raising our kids is to have someone watch them while they play and you tend to the daily tasks, but have you ever tried to do the daily tasks with them with you? You will be surprised how quickly they pick up on things and DESIRE to be with you “helping”. By two, my littles were in the kitchen wanting to “bake” or help empty the dish washer. This is not a pat on my back, just a reminder that any learning thing can be fun, if we make it fun. Of course, they can go play with their toys at any point, but why would they rather help empty the dryer? Because they love you. You are their world! Have fun! Make everything learnable by teaching as you go. It will take a bit longer to accomplish your tasks, but before you know it, you will have another “natural” helper.
Not only does this prepare a young life to do life, but we love to make games as we go! It is so cute to hear little babes say big words. Often we play rhyming games while we work. But, we have also been known to sing songs, recite memory verses, learn poems and finger plays, or about a “unique discovery” that easily transitioned to a great book or educational find after our tasks were complete. You can create an environment of learning all day, everyday like this! It is not book work, but heart work! A desire and fascination to always want to learn more. I truly believe that is how we were designed! I will get into this more next week, let’s look at the preschool age.
Preschool age is unique. It truly is SO different from one child to another. My first couple children wanted to do “school by 3”, so we did “preschool and kinder together.” (As little as possible, but learning all day!) A couple of my children caught the reading bug in preschool and have not stopped. They still devour books when they want to. Other kids take more time grasping letter sounds, numbers and/or concepts. A BIG difference at this age I found is fine motor skills. I learned while teaching preschool AND after my first child (that naturally excelled) that most kids vary GREATLY at 3 & 4. Concept wise, most grasp quickly, but reading, writing and tracing letters was vastly different until we got closer to 5 & 6! And even yet, some into 7. There are many factors to this of course. I can recall children knowing all their letters and sounds at 2&1/2-3, but not really grasping reading concepts until 6-7. (But it just clicked- and they built other concepts quicker.) I am so glad God has made us all so unique! Life would be boring otherwise.
A lot of learning is wonderful at this age through reading and hands on work. If we are honest, concepts are remembered by all of us as we do them. Preschoolers are similar. Through crafts, songs, motion poems and finger plays, music, outdoor natural play and hands on building; toddlers can devour learning concepts. (Even into highschool material presented.) I learned this during “Table School”. My toddler would color, play playdough and such while we were going through marine biology. Random words would be repeated and when I would ask questions to see how much was retained, although my toddler really did not understand (still completely locked into playdough), he would answer a term or question. Of course we thought it was a bit comical, but it verified what I already knew. Children are always learning! Even at ages that they can not use words, they are soaking it all in, watching, listening and repeating. (If we watch their play.) Another great reason we incorporate Bible Time every night (very few exceptions) prior to bed AND to live a life in which you want imitated. Let’s look into Kindergarten now.
Kindergarten age is like the graduation of all day play and what was learned. LOL. Kind of. I love outdoors and see the value of forest play throughout childhood. Like everything else, life is about balance. I have found that Kindergartners that have had a lot of time to play, enjoy a structured learning space too. If my students are really ency and easily distracted, I realized a few extra minutes in outdoor play helps reset the day. It does not have to necessarily be play, it could be an outdoor learning project, a nature walk or garden hunt. Either way, structured learning is not a bad thing, if in balance.
According to educational websites and Scholastic, some of the goals in kindergarten are to work and play well with others, learning cooperation, sparking interest in learning, learning healthy self-esteem, to encourage a love for reading, writing and books, and so on. And while Kindergarten age is another age of mass learning, a big portion of the learning is learning with others. We will dive into the details of this in 3 weeks.
Even through a general post, there is so much information, that this post can become 100’s of different rabbit trails. Our focus here though is transition. As our little ones grow, if we intentionally engage throughout the day or in specific parts of the day, our babies can learn so much before ever sitting at a desk. In fact, looking at my students and children, these were the kids that made it look like learning was easy. Because it was to them. Their minds AND their hearts were engaged.
As you decide what your goals for your child’s education are, you will face many decisions. But note, that long before you make those decisions, your child has already been learning. AND it is never too late. I know research gives us windows and there is science to growing periods, BUT they are not factoring in the heart and will to want to learn. Although you cannot cram years of material in a small window, I have personally seen children sweep through several grade levels in a year. When it comes to the educational feast, good wholesome material can be the difference on a child’s educational health. For now, this is getting lengthy, so I want to leave you with educational curriculum. (Some free, some with a free trial program, you will have to check them out for yourself.) IF you find these links directly helpful, awesome. Or, perhaps just check out the material and how it is presented to children. It may give more incite as to why they are considered “helpful” and “supplemental” in children’s learning and education.
- ABC Mouse
- Adapted Mind
- Cool Kindergarten
- Cool Math
- Education Link
- Fun Brain
- Fun Brain Jr.
- Jump Start
- Learn to Read Homer
- Math Seeds
- National Geographic for Kids
- Nick Jr.
- PBS Kids
- Phil & Sophie
- Reading Eggs
- Splash Learning
- Time For Kids
- Turtle Diary
The only real security and safety is in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Clarence Sexton) I believe this applies to education as well. There are so many amazing professors, methods, curricula and such, but the Lord Jesus Christ is our real security and teaches molds the heart. Which is most important in my children’s education checklist.
See you next Tuesday! Happy Homeschooling, Happy Homemaking!