I read an article in the newspaper this week about a study done which demonstrated the need to teach children basic math skills before they begin school. The researchers found that most children who are behind when they begin school never quite catch up with their age-mates. (Baker, Celia. “Success in math starts before first grade.” Deseret News 19 February 2013: A1. Print.)
Do we really need a study to tell us this? Why are people surprised by the fact that we need to feed the brains of these young ones as they are growing more quickly than at any other time? Now, I am not advocating “seat work” for an active three-year-old. Neither the child nor mother should have to put up with that. But I am suggesting that it is common sense to make early learning and life a part of every day. Remember finger-plays, hopscotch, jump rope, board games, helping in the kitchen, and including the entire family in real life? We need turn off the screens more, and get out there together. Need to go shopping? Take one child with you to count apples, and help fill the cart. (As they get older, they can help with using a calculator to stay in budget, and working out the unit pricing on things.) Need to make a quick trip to the library, neighbors, meetinghouse, etc.? Take them with you, and talk. Look for signs of the seasons. Play word games. Sing songs. Skip. Show them all the great and good life has to offer. This can’t be done if we don’t have time for them, or have decided that the “experts” are better qualified to help them than we are. As their parents and grandparents, no one is better qualified to teach, love, or direct them as they grow. No computer or video can do it. That is our job.
We cannot send them into the world without us “having their backs.” As adults we need to watch for the dangers they may not see and, truthfully, shouldn’t need to be able to recognize. Give them a childhood- one where they are sheltered, loved, instructed, and prepared to be the amazing adults they will become.