Baby Home School

Even before birth, your child is in school--your home school. He is learning from you, his first teacher.

A newborn's brain is like a computer. Everything that contacts it through sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste is stored and sorted in its networks. During the first five to six years of life a child’s brain retains most of what it receives. Where is the child during those years? At home, with you, his parents. What a responsibility and a privilege!

Haven’t you noticed how children are constantly trying to learn? Every child is a scientist. He’s exploring, experimenting, and questioning everything. Even an infant will put a new toy through the test. He’ll shake it, squeeze it, bite it, throw it, and start all over again.

A toddler loves to explore every inch of his surroundings. He’s pulling out bowls, flushing anything he can down the toilet, splashing in puddles, and washing his hair with hand cream. Some days you wonder why you bother to clean the house. The little “elves” make messes faster than you can keep up.

Sometimes you have to let your little one get dirty. You have to let him get muddy when he’s making roads, sticky when he’s making cookies, or quite wet when he’s “washing dishes”. Oh, don’t get too upset. It will clean. Give him a cloth to help. He’ll be learning all the while.

Children want to learn. Did you ever watch a child practice something new like climbing stairs or buttoning his clothes? He’ll do it over and over until he masters it. I know it’s hard to let him do it his own way, but now experience is his teacher. No dictionary or professor can teach him what he wants to know. Only you can by giving him the opportunity to do it by himself. All it takes is a little patience and caring.

A good teacher is one who provides opportunities for the student to explore and find his own answers. How can we be this kind of teacher to our child? – By putting before him a constant variety of experiences from which to learn.

Starting from birth, your baby can be learning about his world through bright pictures on the wall, mobiles, mirrors, rattles, musical toys, and any other interesting thing that catches his attention. Another way to expand the baby’s horizon is to give him various viewing points. Let him sit in an infant seat or swing in whatever room you’re working in. There are also many commercial back pack or baby slings that make it possible to free your hands as you carry him around, much like a papoose.

As the infant grows into the crawling and walking stage, he wants to touch and taste everything he can reach. It’s a trying time, but I know he must be learning by all he does. Instead of confining him to a stroller, let him run barefoot, weather permitting, and feel the difference between grass, gravel, and even mud. It seems he’s putting things in his mouth faster than you can take them out, but he’ll soon learn that rocks and leaves aren’t good to eat and move on to discover other things.

A choking child is a very scary experience. First of all, keep marbles, pennies, and small objects out of reach. If your child does choke, he won’t cry or cough, because he can’t breathe! Learning the Heimlech Manuever could be lifesaving. Kitchen cupboards are a favorite pastime for this age, so safety becomes very important, with locked doors and cleaning products out of reach. My little tykes spent hours “cleaning” my drawers, clattering pots and pans, rolling cans across the floor, and hiding in the empty shelves.

The toddler starts to discover how he can control his movements like running, hopping, coloring, and building. This age enjoys the toys that help him use his hands, body and imagination. Often something as simple as a cardboard box or a water-filled squirt bottle will be enjoyed more than most store-bought toys. The toys to buy or make should spark creativity like blocks, balls, crayons, and realistic stuffed or rubber animals.

Each child is unique with individual interests. As parents, we need to be aware, watching and listening for signs of his separate talents. Some children are musical or poetic or athletic. Some are mechanical, pushing buttons, turning knobs, and taking things apart to see how they work. One child may love animals, while another likes to help in the kitchen.

Every talent should be encouraged and guided by providing materials and time to develop his interest. We want our little ones to grow pleasing to the Lord and using their talents for Him. Teach your youngster that he is special in his own way and encourage self-respect, but not pride. Should the problem of personal pride arise, the young protégé should learn that God has allowed him to have that certain ability and to give the Lord the credit. He should know his own weaknesses, plus the strengths of others, seeing that we need each other. Teach him to ask for help and admit when things are too hard.

We shouldn’t boast of our child’s accomplishments or make him perform in front of guests. On the other hand, personal praise and encouragement is necessary. Teach him to compare himself to past performances and not to others. Notice that he colored insides the lines or turned a good somersault. Tell him that you appreciate his help when he fetches the baby’s toy or finds a missing shoe. He needs to feel needed. He needs to feel that someone is behind him, but not pushing him beyond his ability.

Each one is so different. None can be treated like another. Some learn quickly, others take their time. Some want lots of help and others would rather work alone. Watch and listen to your child and no matter what kind of person he is, together you will thrill over each achievement.

Reading is a doorway to the world. Teach your child to love books. Let him see you reading, buy books often, and most of all, read to him often, at least once a day. Start as soon as he will sit still on your lap for a few minutes. Talk about the pictures. Make animal sounds and point out familiar objects. As he begins to enjoy this time together, he will soon have some favorite books. I have memorized many books by reading them to my children over and over and over again. The child is learning that the words say the same thing every time, and that’s the beginning of reading.

Teaching and learning should be an all day process. Ask your little one to count the cups to put on the table. Ask him to find his red shirt or put his left foot in his boot. Tell him how apples and cheese are better for his body than cookies and candy. Take walks and catch tadpoles or pick wild strawberries. A toddler can’t sit still very long, so teach him on the run.

Use your imagination to make simple learning games. Have him match socks or sort tableware. Make simple lotto games with animals, colors, or shapes. Play “Simon Says” to learn the parts of the body, including difficult ones like ankle, hip or wrist.

Talk to your youngster whenever you can. Point out something new or ask him questions about what he’s doing. Give reasons for why you do things, like vacuuming to get the floor clean and turning off lights to save energy or wearing mittens to keep fingers warm. It makes him think out things and to learn to ask “why”, which should continue throughout his life.

Asking “why” is a specialty of four and five year olds. Questions seem to pour out of them. My boy would wait until he had my captured attention in the car. Then, he would bomb me with one question after another, each one unrelated to the others. “How high are the clouds?” “Why do we have belly-buttons?” “Where did my balloon go when I let it go?” Some questions seem silly and others are mind-boggling. Each question is important to the child, so don’t ignore them and try your best to answer all of them. Many times I had to say, “I don’t know; let’s look it up when we get home or ask Daddy.”

There’s a big world out there, and many wonderful things to learn. Teaching our children is a God–given privilege, and it’s not much more than showing them how to notice God’s wonderful world around them.

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