There are so many opinions about when is too soon or too late to start stimulating your child’s brain and get them motivated to learn. I don’t think there is a start or stop time. Kids are a lot smarter and intuitive than we think. Just because they are not verbal, doesn’t mean they are not learning. Now I’m not sure how I feel about your baby can read or posting flashcards in your child’s crib during infancy. But should acknowledge that your child has the capability of learning more than you think. This includes children with disabilities. I have seen too many children that have proven doctors & therapist wrong when it comes to some mental disabilities & handicaps. Each child should be taken by a case by case basis. Maybe your child is not good with vocabulary, but understands & loves the mechanics of things or is good with identifying things as oppose to remembering things. I just talked to my son. I took the advice of my great-aunt who was an educator for years in special education, a treated him like he was a little person. Sure maybe he didn’t grasp it all at that time, but when the time came for his brain to mature enough to understand, the memory would be there.
From day one I would just talk to him. “Jax, are you hungry? Let’s nurse for 15 mins and see how you feel, maybe you need a little more? If so we’ll get you some formula.” As he grew into an infant I would point out color, amount and sometimes spell things out. “Jax, look at that blue hippo singing on tv. Hippo starts with, H.” This was incorporated into everyday conversation that I had with him. “Would you like a bottle? Yes please, Mommy. Thank you, Mommy.” We read just about every day and every night and we sang songs everyday. I created a song that incorporated the spelling of his name, we sang the alphabet, and 123’s. It didn’t make it fun or boring, it was just apart of his everyday life and conversation. Sure enough as he began to speak he began to recognize things and repeat things eagerly, as if he had these words locked in him and now they could finally be set free. Suddenly I had a 1-year-old who was saying, “Please” & “Thank you” before he could walk well. He knew the difference between the spelling of Jax vs. Jaxon. He was reciting his numbers & letters before he was 20 months old. He seemed to feel empowered and excited every time he was able to recognize a letter out of a word on a box or a billboard. A slowly but surely as I continued this Social Learning experiment, letter recognition grew to word recognition to letter sounding out to word sounding out to now I have a two-year old reading through Hop On Pop & The Cat In The Hat! Yes, you read right, my two-year old is READING!
Now I’m not saying this all due to mommy’s magical preschool education, clearly my son is smart and quick on the pick up. However, I believe it’s my job as his mom to give him all the tools he will need to be the best little dude he can be. I at least have to figure out how to help him have a chance. It could have been that I did all that, and he didn’t begin to read early, and that would have been okay. I’m sure that it would have boosted his social skills or his motor skills or whatever. It couldn’t have hurt. He isn’t burned out from learning, in fact it’s the exact opposite. It’s almost like he’s figured out how to teach himself certain things, and I love that! He’s not just picking up a book and memorizing things, he’s learning through living! I honestly think this is the best way. It makes it easier to incorporate knowledge with life, which is what we should all be doing. Honestly we put so much emphasis on testing and semester competition, that we don’t let it sink in. Almost everything we learn in school will seem irrelevant eventually, and thus disappear. This is where we lose children through the educational system potholes.
Now yes there are apps, books and tools that I use everyday with Jax as he grows up. In fact now we incorporate an hour each day that is broken up in 15 minute intervals that is dedicated to “Lessons” where we work on writing, matching, vocabulary, science & math. I have been using BrainQuest. I loved BrainQuest when I was a kid! My brothers and I would make games around the little quiz flip cards, not realizing we were learning things. They have now expanded their brand into Kindergarten & Preschool and have added Workbooks along with the flipcards. My son loves his workbook because he gets to color and receives stickers for his accomplishments.
Sure it could be that I’m over doing it or I’m over stimulating. Some would say that a little Gymboree & a little Nick Jr is enough for a 2-year-old. Frankly, I don’t care what people think. He enjoys being able to read things for himself, he enjoys recognizes things and having conversations with people and he’s still a very social 2-year-old. I think when it comes to your kid’s education or discipline, it’s really up to you. You know your kid. You know what you want for your kid. You know what they are capable of. A mommy or daddy instinct is the strongest thing you will ever have. It’s usually never wrong. And there is no book or “expert” that can teach you how to know Your child. You know them! You know you know them. You knew them before they took their first breath. Trust your instincts. Doing that already puts you in the “doing good” parental path.