Learning if FUN!
(From 2017 Blog Post) by Mary Jane Estrada-Lyder
I take every opportunity to make learning fun. Make it a game.
Finding time to teach your child. It’s not really a matter of having to find the time to teach your child, because really you can teach your child at any moment. There is always a teaching moment. The key is taking advantage of every moment as a teaching moment. So, in the car on the way to school, prime example, my husband and I take advantage of this time. We share a car so we are all together in the mornings. This is a great time to go over counting and saying the alphabet with our 3 y/o while Jonathan reads a library book or his big book on animals (he takes in animal facts like a sponge). Or I will ask Jonathan questions in Mandarin for him to answer in mandarin. We practice our conversations in the car. If you are fortunate enough to have an I-pad, there is a wealth of free apps specifically age-appropriate for my pre-schooler and my kindergarten/first grade-level son.
There is a teaching moment while waiting in the grocery line. You can talk about the facts of healthy foods and have them repeat them back to you. My kids can tell you a thing about eating meat for protein, calcium for strong bones and teeth, etc. Or count numbers, do the alphabet. Play I spy.
But if you find it as difficult as I do to find time to teach your child, we find that the time in the car before getting to school and the time in the car going home is as good a time as any; especially since my work schedule is 8:00a-5:00p. So what that means is that I have to make sure I leave my house at the very least 45 minutes before 8:00 so I have time to drop my kids off at daycare and account for traffic. Once in the car, I ask my kids questions, sometimes in Mandarin and/or my oldest teaches my younger son to count. Can I say it again? Morning is a good time to learn. Then I pick them up after work, so that is anywhere between 5:15 and 6:00 pm. Again, same teaching opportunity going home, but now we also have a chance to discuss what they learned at school today. I am glad that I am able to have conversations with my children. My parents never had conversations with me when I was a child growing up. They blamed that on their culture and upbringing, which I totally get. From the stories I’ve heard of my parents growing up in the Philippines, family conversations did not happen. Hard work was expected. Respect was expected. I feel bad that my Lolas (grandmothers) and Lolos (grandfathers) never talked with my parents as children. I won’t let that happen with my children. I have spoken with other friends of other cultures whose parents were the same; and with those differences also came strictness, a topic for another discussion.
So back to the art of conversation (digressing actually, from the initial topic of learning at any time, but just as interesting. I find that it is so important just to be able to engage your child in conversation. I was such a shy child. I think mostly because I never knew what to say. Even at the dinner table....quiet. A few words here and there, but I do not remember any long and interesting discussions with the family during dinner. My children, you get them in front of a stranger, they will tell you about their favorite superhero, what they did 2 minutes ago and what is going on at the present moment, all under 1 minute. And I say stranger, but my children know very well, not to speak to strangers, of course, unless I am with them, then they are to be very polite, saying “please” and “thank you” and “have a good night.” I often think of them in the future, and because of our conversations, they will be able to hold their own very well. I am confident that they will be good conversationalists which will open doors to great opportunities.