Last night I got sucked into this British show on Hulu called "Make Your Child Brilliant." Is it me or is the title alone intriguing?! Okay, maybe it's just me. I'm crazy like that; we've established as much over the years right here on CCE. Anyhoo...the show was a good reminder that all kids learn differently. Some kids are visual learners (they learn by seeing - kids with Down syndrome tend to fall into this category). Some kids are auditory learners (they learn by hearing). And some kids are kinesthetic learners (they learn by hands-on "doing").
With the technology-induced limited attention spans we all suffer from these days, presenting information in a variety of ways is an even more important method for keeping kids engaged. Because my children are all in different stages of development and knowledge acquisition, it's a challenge to come up with one academic concept that they can all participate in on different levels. Granted, (this disclaimer goes on all of my "educational" posts), I am not a teacher. I have an undergraduate degree in business administration. I don't come to the table with a multitude of knowledge and tricks. I'm learning on the job. But I think that conveys the idea that any mom with Google and a printer (or a glass of pinot grigio, a ruler, and a Sharpie - right, Mom?) can nurture those little brains...Josie didn't have school today so we just rested on our laurels in our pajamas. Just kidding! Okay, so Josie rocked her pajamas all day and if you have a problem with it, you can come do my laundry. But we did utilize the time to bond over the alphabet!
Lydia worked on identifying letters. Josie worked on matching letters with different colors/fonts to make it a little tricky. Josie also worked on simple tracing.
And when (S)mother hen wasn't working on keeping her sisters' noses to the grindstone, she practiced writing lowercase letters.
The video at the bottom of the post shows our activities in more detail, but here are a few little tricks this amateur "teacher" has learned along the way:
1. "Nice" brand alphabet cookies from Walgreens are excellent tools and motivators.
2. A broken crayon encourages a proper pincer grasp. I learned this at the Handwriting Without Tears workshop. Avoid the big, fat, little-kid crayons because they do the opposite; they encourage holding the crayon in the fist.
3. The dollar store has AWESOME educational materials including the letter tracing books you see here. And you can't beat the price!
And the most important trick of all: learning should always involve cheering. Just ask Josie - there's no such thing as too much shameless self-praise. If you need some inspiration, check out the hashtag #DailyAffirmationsWithJosie. The secret of life: frequent "Woo Hoo's!"
Merryn's handwriting infomercial at the end of this video montage is worth hanging around for.
Tune in next time when I teach the kids quantum physics with a broken pencil and some Goldfish crackers. Or not.