Every parent today is aware of the value of reading aloud to their toddler or preschooler. But did you know that there is a lot more you, as a parent, can do to get your young child ready for all the years of schooling that lie ahead? That there are tips, techniques, and products that can help you assure your child a successful experience in school and in learning? I'd like to share some of these techniques which accelerate thinking and learning in very young children.
First, when you read to your child from a picture book, after you've read the book a couple of times and your child is familiar with the pictures, it is time to get him to focus on relationship between the words you are speaking and the black "squiggles" he sees on the page. So after the second or third reading, when you read the book aloud, run your finger under the words as you read them. This helps the child become aware of the words you are speaking and the symbols he sees on the page. After many readings of the same book, he or she will become aware that for every bunch of symbols on the page, the same sounds are coming out of your mouth. When you go on to another book, she will notice that even in this other book, the symbol that looks like "a" produces the same sound from your mouth. Thus, you have made the connection in the child's brain between a particular symbol and a particular sound. This, of course, is most easily noticed in very short words like "a" and "the". But, with time and repetition, you will find your child beating you to the next word in the story and recognizing those words in newspaper headlines and other written material he finds around the house.
Second, when you teach your young child the alphabet, rather than teaching the letter names, especially with consonants, teach the letter sounds. Then it will be easier for the child to see how the sounds, rather than the letter names, combine into words. This is the basis of phonics.
Third, when it comes to numbers, teach numeric values first rather than the names of the numbers. Show the child different groups of two things together, say two apples, two spoons, two shoes. Then show him groups of three, etc. This makes more sense, especially once the child knows the names of all these objects...the nouns. She then knows that a shoe is a shoe and a spoon is a spoon, so what is the only commonality between the two shoes and the two spoons? That there are two of them. A child who understands numeric value...that is what two represents, what three represents, etc., ...will have a much easier time with mathematic operations because he can visualize the quantity rather than just the numeric symbol when you say "two". Then, it makes perfect sense that "two" plus "two" equals "four".
There are many so-called learning toys and products on the market today for young children, but many of these teach a child to parrot rather than to think. If you are interested in books and software that are both very effective learning tools yet FUN for a child to use, and that also incorporate the ideas mentioned above and many other proven strategies to stimulate critical and logical thinking, please go to http://www.inspirethinking.com for some of the very best of what's available for preschoolers today. All products come with a moneyback guarantee.
By Linda Popolano