I was determined to ensure that my daughter would be smart and not behaviorally challenged. I read a few books on teaching children during what they call the “window of opportunity,” from ages 0-5. I was amazed to learn how parents can teach their children so many things, provided that they are consistent and use appealing methods. I began looking for materials with which to teach Arwen —flashcards, books, and other educational materials—and some materials I personally made.
I started teaching Arwen when she was three months old. After my initial fervor died, and I wasn’t seeing much progress as a result of what I was teaching her, I found myself discouraged. It seemed that she wasn’t reacting to the "schooling" I was giving her. I figured that perhaps she was too young to be learning words, numbers, and other things that I was trying to teach her.
However, I continued, and after a few months, I started noticing that she was responding positively to aspects of my teaching that she recognized, which I had repeated to her many times over. Then one day just before she was seven months, after having shown her flashcards for quite some time with no apparent results, I showed her the word “clap” and without me saying anything she clapped her hands. I was completely stunned. I had hoped my efforts would pay off, but actually witnessing her response was incredible, especially at such a young age.
Arwen is my first child, so every new venture in her progress is a wonderful experience for me. Perhaps I won’t be in such a perpetual state of elation with my next children, but for me this sign of progress was an encouragement to keep teaching her new things.
Now I try to turn everything into a learning experience. I’ve read that the best way to teach children, besides making learning fun, is to make their life a rich learning environment. And she expects me to! Every time I pass a poster or word that I have posted for her, she gets so excited and expects me to make a big deal out of it and explain it to her.
Sometimes I worry that I can’t keep up with her learning capacity, but I’m willing to keep trying to the best of my ability. I’ve experimented with ways to teach her things and have started to write them down in my notebook, so as to remember them for when she’s older. Here are some teaching opportunities I’ve been taking with her daily:
- I tell her the exact time every time we see a clock, after making the “tick-tock” sound.
- I let her explore the trees and flower bushes while I say what type it is, and explain a fact or two about it. I’ve also made a scrapbook with the leaves of the trees and bushes we learn about so she can study them when she is older.
- I introduce a new, meaningful song each week.
- Since Arwen is from a multi-racial background, several family members talk to her in different languages.
- I try to provide her with educational toys as much as possible.
- I made a mobile out of old CDs and hung this “mobile” near the window so that the CDs catch the sunlight. I glued colors, planets, and shapes to some of them for her to watch while they spin around. The possibilities are endless.
- I stuck flashcards of the words she’s been learning in different places so I can review them with her when I walk around.
With the things I teach Arwen, I try to make learning fun, so that in the future she’ll look forward to her schooling as opposed to dreading it. Sometimes, however, she is not in the mood to learn, and wants to play by herself, which is also a part of her development, so I’m cautious to not overdo, and make sure I give her times when I’m not teaching her, too.
I hope these ideas can be helpful to other new moms who are maybe looking for ways to pour into their little ones while they’re still babies.