Sunday, December 30, 2007

Learning thru play

Time magazine recently reported that ‘anxious parents are trying to give their kids an academic edge before they even get to kindergarten’ (“Tutors for Toddlers” TIME Dec 3, 2007)

It seems that not only the Asians are kiasu in giving their lil' ones a headstart in education, nowadays the gweilos are also sending their 3-year-olds for tutoring & early developmental programs.

The article summarizes that the main teaching methods in the market used for pre-kindy kids are:
i. flash cards – to teach letter & word recognition.
ii. work sheets – teach early math concepts.
iii. software – early reading skills, etc.

In brief, the article notes that the experts’ views were quite simply - ‘kids already learn what they need to know in a traditional-learning-through-play program.’ (If you wanna find out what the experts say about the above 3 teaching methods, go & read the article ☺)

In other words, this means that all the latest, fancy, hi-fi teaching methods & programs for young kids may not actually be much better than the old fashioned playing and interacting with your kid.

I could not agree more. Kids just need to be exposed to the world around us with a bit of help, patience and guidance from us parents. Watching Sesame Street, singing along to VeggieTales, reciting nursery rhymes, fooling around with kitchen utensils, completing jigsaw puzzles, messing around with Play-Doh, manhandling fruits & veggies at the grocers, reading picture books, etc. – it’s amazing to watch how Evan can grasp and comprehend the things you throw at him. Every new thing he comes across seems to add to & build up his understanding of how the world works around him.

Recently, at a store selling baby stuff, Evan was playing with a baby doll, treating her like a baby and sitting her on a rocker. (See the above rocker & note the 3 hanging toys: bear holding ice-cream, pig holding corn and a cow.)

I innocently asked Evan, “The baby (referring to the doll) is hungry. What would you do?”

And he answered, “Baby eat ice-cream,” feeding the doll with the ice-cream the hanging toy bear is holding.

Then I said, “But the baby can’t eat ice-cream, she needs milk!”

After a second or two, Evan replied, “Baby drink milk. Cows give us milk!” while pointing to the hanging toy cow.

Wow.. application of knowledge & resource to derive a solution, by a 2-year-old (& 4 months).

Boy, how I'm stumped at his processing speed.

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