Monday, January 17, 2011

M  Z  @  Y  X  Q  R  #  W * G  L  D T

Does the above have meaning to you? What if I asked you to say it out loud repeatedly? Would that help you know what it means? Maybe you could sing as you say the names of the letters and symbols! 
The repetition and singing will likely help you be able to memorize this sequence of letters and symbols. But, in the end will you have learned anything?
Do you realize that frequently two, three, and four year old children are encouraged to do this type of activity?  Children of these ages are often asked to say or sing, A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L ….
There is no meaning to a young child when they say the alphabet. They can do it, but there is no REAL learning taking place. As adults we understand that these are letters and they represent sounds and they create words. But, to children these letters are abstract. 
The brain learns with real objects first. Later, as higher areas of the brain develop, the brain is able to think and learn about things that are not experienced with the senses.  
This is the same when flash cards are used with young children. Children are just memorizing and repeating back words, but there is no real learning taking place. 
Think of a child that is looking at a flash card with the picture of an orange and the word, ORANGE printed below the photo. With the repetition of a parent saying orange when showing the picture, the child will learn to say, "orange". 
Now, compare a child seeing a photo on a card to a child holding, smelling, and tasting a real orange while hearing the word "orange" .. .. (and other words like juicy, sweet, soft, and round). It is easy to see that a child would make MANY more brain connections through experiencing a real orange. 
It is really simple.... REAL learning for young children happens through real experiences!

For EASY ways to promote and provide REAL Learning and optimal brain development even during busy everyday life.....check the links to 
The Brain Development Series on the right of this page or go to: 

The children in your life will thank you for providing what they 
really want and need most... and you will feel wonderful to be providing it while you are getting all of your daily tasks completed! 


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janetlansbury said...

Simple, yet so important and brilliantly presented. Thank you for this post.

Similarly, when we teach preschoolers to count they learn little about math. It's much more productive for children (and feels much more natural to us) when we simply acknowledge the 'amounts' they deal with while they play, eat, bath, etc. "You're trying to carry three of those balls. That's hard to do. Oh, now you put one down and have two. Easier, isn't it?" Or, "We can share these four apple slices. I'll have two and you can have two."

The good news is that what is easier for us is better for our children. What's not to like?

January 17, 2011 at 5:28 PM
Melissa Taylor said...

Amen, you're totally right!

Why do parents continue to go for the flashcards? I keep trying to figure it out.

January 17, 2011 at 6:18 PM
Deborah said...

I agree - children need meaningful experiences in order to really learn. I wouldn't question that thought a single bit. But I do question your thought that learning the ABC's or even Janet's thought on Counting numbers. I am not questioning the use of flashcards - this I think is just a boring way to learn anything.

However, does it not make sense to share letters, shapes, numbers, counting, and other similar content along with meaningful connections along the way so children can begin to organize these concepts and patterns as they begin to emerge in a way that will make sense to them? I am not the expert you are so this is not a challenge just something I wonder about.

January 17, 2011 at 9:26 PM

Deborah - as I get ready to post my "Children and Experiments" article for this week, you sent me the link to this article to go along with our "Orange juice" experiment. I'll be blogging it in a moment but first, I wanted to comment. I have four kids. My eldest son LOVED flashcards. I didn't like them but he did. Every time we walked into a store he'd ask me to buy some. He thought it was hilarious to drill ME. From the time he was two until he was about 6, he enjoyed flashcards. He is now 14. My other kids don't like flashcards so I never offer them or use them. However, my first son did, and so I gave him what he enjoyed.

Did we also do countless hands-on activities with real objects? You bet!

Interestingly, I began tutoring a child last week. His native language is Chinese and the parents want him to speak English. As we played and played in my home, I said "Ball! You are playing with a blue ball." Or, "That toy is pink." Or, "Soft!" Or, "You have a truck now." Or, "Fish. That is our pet fish." By the end of our time together he was repeating numerous words, very clearly. I will have him three more times this week and I'm even more excited after reading your post! Thanks. :-)

April 28, 2013 at 7:20 PM

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