Monday, February 21, 2011

Teaching your toddler to love learning

My kids will be nerds, they kinda have no choice. Their dad is a computer/surfing/road bike/barefoot running nerd and their mom is a nature/science/bird watching/aquarium nerd. Basically, both my girls will end up going nuts over something. Right now my toddler is into birds as well as Thomas the Train, insects, seeds and anything that she can check on every two minutes to see if it grew or changed in anyway.

I heard a sad sad fact on our local NPR station last week that an alarming number of five-year-olds are starting kindergarten not even knowing the parts of their own body. I can't imagine if my two-year-old couldn't name her own nose or feet! NPR claimed it all comes down to parents not reading with their kids or spending enough time teaching their kids and planting them in front of the TV instead.

Sure my kids like Thomas and Super Why! and a number of other PBS cartoons (it's been a LONG and snowy winter), but I try to limit what they watch. I could have turned on the TV all morning today but instead I got out my laptop, downloaded pictures of the birds we've been seeing in our backyard and made a chart with my toddler (click photo to enlarge). OK, she did the gluing and I helped her figure out which column to put each bird in, but at two and five months she can already identify a chickadee, squirrel, crow, hawk, owl, loon and a junco. And that's not because she's super smart but because I took the time to teach them to her, and I was excited about it, and excitement is contagious.

I know parents who claim they don't have time to do activities like this with their kids, but every minute of the day is a minute you could be teaching your kids something. Even if it's just the parts of their face, or in my kid's case more bird species than most adults can recognize. As soon as they wake up from their naps I must go out and buy a bigger piece of poster board since we've run out of room and it's not even bird migration season yet!


  1. It is paying off and will continue to do so. BTW, I'm impressed with the poster -- 2 years 5 months?! Incredible.

    You are so wise to spend this time with your girls.

  2. Not to mention your girls are so fortunate to have engaged parents. The unfortunate part of parenthood is that there are no tests, everybody gets to procreate! But not everybody is willing to raise the kids, allowing them to raise themselves. :-(

  3. What a great board. Blue Jays are my favorite but they're mean. Bless you for bringing two more geeks into the world. We need them.

  4. @Lynn: she only did the gluing part, I had to tell her where to put the birds, she's smart but not THAT smart :)
    @DJan: you're so right! you need a license to have a dog, but not to have a kid. I tell my kids every day how lucky they are, and squeeze them A LOT!
    @RT: Blue Jays are total butt heads. beautiful but butt heads. My kids are total geeks, yay!

    thanks for all your comments :)

  5. hi sugar -

    nice to see some posts - i am sure many have been wondering how all the girls are doing and guessing "busy" would be at the top of the list

    i wonder if anyone sings "hokey pokey" and "heads, shoulders, knees & toes" to their kids anymore?


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