Having a lot of children in a short time can seem more overwhelming than we all anticipated. Going through the same stages of life one right after another and trying to keep it together while managing those stages and still dealing with life.
One of the things we have never seemed to struggle with is creating learning opportunities with positive reinforcement. More than just a simple, "That's good honey." after the 12th made up song your child has sung to you. There needs to be praise, excitement and overwhelming joy shown to provide your child with the understanding that they have done something amazing.
Sure, to us, saying "Mama" or "Dada" is a walk in the park, but for them... it's an accomplishment that is a large leap into the world of a new language and learning.
A few days ago, my husband and I were sitting in our bedroom, getting ready for sleep, when our two-year-old ran in and sat on the bed. He sat crisscross applesauce in front of his father and patiently waited for what he knew would be a fun experience.
A game we call: Word Practice.
Above is a video of us playing this game with Leo (our two-year-old). Continuing this practice with him has provided him with word learning, positive reinforcement (whether he gets the word right or not) and has helped him to learn the importance of paying attention when learning new things.
We are confident that when our little man begins school, he will have no issues sitting and listening to lessons to gain the information he needs to learn.
Here are some tips when practicing learning with your little:
Be Patient: Every child learns differently and at their own pace. What worked quickly for one child, may take more time for anther.
Change things up: This process we show above when working with Leo, worked with our daughter Lillian as well. However, we had to present cue cards and be in a brightly lit room when going through this with Samuel and Hunter (our two older boys)
Do not discourage: Even if your young one gets a response or answer wrong, don't look upset or angry. Do not present them with negativity - this may deter them from wanting to learn in the future. Make it silly, give them a humorous confused look and try again. If they continue to struggle, provide them with positive reinforcement for trying and move on.
Rewards: We provide rewards of high fives or playing our favorite games together. We stopped presenting sweet treats for rewards because of an article I read a while back. It stated that providing sweet foods as rewards gain teach your children that those foods make you feel better after going through a stressful event like learning, tests, doctors' visits and more. Which can create poor eating habits.
Consistency: Playing learning game/activities with your children once in a blue moon is like going to college once every four months. You're not really learning much, and you probably will forget the process and requirements. Children are no different. Take the time once a week at the least to sit down and practice with your little ones. Try to make it the same day and time (if you can) so that they gain a normalcy from the learning process.
Make it fun: Children want to do things that make them smile and laugh. Turning learning into a game will make them excited about the idea of starting school and help them to understand that learning, although a need, can also be something enjoyable. If you act as if it is a chore to teach them, they will consider it a chore to learn.
So, take the time to sit down and have some fun with your little one through learning. Keep it consistent and push positive reinforcement. If things don't go as planned, don't allow yourself to get frustrated. Show them praise for trying and move on to the next thing. You can always revisit what they are struggling with at a later time and date.
Learning is part of our lives from the minute we are presented to this circular rock and will be part of our lives until they lay us in the ground. There is no reason we need to start off dreading the idea of learning.
Make it a positive, make it a game and allow it to be a bonding experience for you and your child(ren).
🧡 Shine Bright, Kayla