While I was three months pregnant, I had lunch with a former co-worker, Cyndi. Cyndi just viewed a PBS special where Dr. Ben Carson discussed Brain Health. In this video (at 8:30), Dr. Carson says a baby’s brain continues to develop once he/she is born. The more a baby learns, the more the brain’s dendrites are making connections.
Babies who experience interaction with caregivers through song, cuddling, playing, and talking, develop connections in the brain faster and better. By the time a child is three years old, their brain has reached 90% of its growth.
I thought PLAY would be the best way to interact with my son and boost his brain development. I never imagined this concept would lead to him reading at 21 months!
Please note: I did the activities below with my son as a full-time working mom.
I used In-Depth learning to teach my son. In-Depth learning is being exposed to a concept in various ways. I concentrated on teaching my son through three of the five senses which were sight, touch, and hearing. Dr. Ben Carson addresses In-Depth learning in his book Think Big.
Below are examples of what my son and I did….
I sung constantly to my son. It became something that soothed him. I sung when he woke up in the middle of the night, in the car, while feeding and changing him, etc. Songs helped him learn language. It also helped him learn the alphabet and phonetics. I made up songs about the alphabet, phonetics, and words that began with certain letters.
I love going to the library with my son because of the programs, toys, puzzles, and books. Before leaving the library, I always checked out at least 15 children books. One of the books had to be about the alphabet. There are zillions of books about the ABC’s. My son was able to see the same words I sung in songs within these books.
PLAY, PLAY, PLAY
I enjoyed coming home from work to play with my son. It seemed like a break from sitting and looking at a computer all day. We played with toys such as playdoh and alphabet blocks. Before my son talked, we molded the playdoh into letters. We drew pictures on the storm door with window markers in alphabetical order. For example, we drew an apple for A and banana for B. On our way to the playground in the evenings and weekends, we identified letters on car license plates and signs.
Talking is a great way to increase a child’s focus. We discussed stories we read in books. We also made up stories about the alphabet, animals, etc. Whenever we were in the grocery store, I identified foods and the letter they started with. I conversed with my son on various topics.
Once my son could identify letters, I let him watch cartoons that featured the alphabet, phonetics, and words. Leapfrog has a great series of educational cartoons. We also listened to toddler radio and hip-hop educational CDs in the car.
Put it Together
Once my son knew the phonetics, I taught him how to blend letter sounds to read words. Many words, including site words, were becoming familiar to him through exposure to books, children museums, the library, YouTube videos, cartoons, and anywhere we went. He heard words through our conversations, songs, radio, and television. His brain started making connections and then he started reading. He has also developed a true love of reading.
Similar concepts were also used to teach my son to
- identify colors
- Spanish words
- tell time
Happy PLAYFUL In-Depth Learning!