My 2.5 year old is rather surprisingly precocious and I'm looking for resources to stay a few steps ahead of her. Several times now she's surprised me with where she is "academically" (I hesitate to use that word at this age), and we've just run with it. So far everything she's been ready to learn we've had available on our shelves, but we're running out of that. As of right now DD has mastered:
-Upper and lowercase letters
-Rote counting to 20
-Counting objects to 8
-Recognizing digits up through 20
-Can play Crazy 8's
We're working on letter sounds right now, as well as counting objects, how numbers work, etc. It's VERY informal at this point, and I so wasn't planning on doing what I consider to be kindergarten level work at 2.5 (letter sounds), but here we are.
I would love some good secular resources on whatever the next step is. I honestly don't know what is normally after counting? Basic addition? I'd like to just have a few books available so that when she's ready, she can pull it off the shelf and we talk about it. Preferably not workbooks, since she's not developmentally ready for even tracing letters yet. Her motor skills are about average for her age.
At age 2 she should be leading the process. Not only the pace, intensity and style of learning but the direction. You don't need to "stay one step ahead." She should be the one in the lead. What's next might be addition, it might be identifying 135 species of dinosaur, it might be painting, it might be reading, it might be puppet play, it might be reading, it might be inventing a language, it might be a burst of motor-skills learning. There's no way to know. You just watch her to see what she becomes obsessed with learning next. Feed that appetite, if and when it arises.
My kids were all doing those things by age 2, and I just provided them with lots of creativity options (art materials, open-ended toys, dress-up stuff, puppets, etc.), included them in family and community life, gave them loads of unstructured time for play, loads of time outdoors in the natural world, and talked to them a lot. When we finally got around to introducing specific learning resources and opportunities between ages 5 and 8, they were ready for stuff at a much higher grade level than their age might have suggested.
So not setting out to teach them phonics or addition certainly didn't stop them learning those things. Just enjoy your dd, and let her lead! She can't "run out of things to learn" just because you don't have it ready on a shelf for her. The world is packed with things to learn, all day, every day. Obviously having wonderful books on the shelf to read is a great thing -- but they don't need to have a learning agenda to them. Share things you love with her -- books and anything else!
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I thought it had been clear from my original post, but I guess I need to spell it out explicitly.
Yes, my 2 old is absolutely leading this, no I'm not pushing it. She asks me to show her something, I show it to her. Yes, we do 40 bajillion OTHER things than play with numbers and letter sounds, but none of those things were relevant to this post. I don't want to stay one step ahead of her, nor do I feel we need any more structure (what very little we have is working well for us), I just want to know some good resources to have lying around for when she's ready for the next step. So far that's worked for us and allowed her to truly lead this process. If I have to start researching and shopping when I feel she's probably ready for whatever the next step is, that means I'm doing the leading, not her. If I have a fun book on, say, addition available, she can pull it off the shelf, have me read it to her, start getting it and run with it.
As for things that are not math and reading, I have no problem finding good materials she'd enjoy. It's the more obvious "school" type stuff that I'm clueless on what's available for her ability.
We played a lot of boardgames when my kids' math skills were beyond what they could write. Hi Ho Cherry-O, Monopoly Jr., that kind of thing. For pre-literacy skills, we enjoyed the Talking Letter Factory board game (it's been discontinued, but I found it on Ebay, to show you what I mean: http://compare.ebay.com/like/150728309537?var=lv&var=sbar ) We've gotten lots of use from our abacus too.
Honestly, I don't think you necessarily need formal learning tools at this point-- the stuff that's out there isn't going to fit her well, and you can show her addition, if she's interested in it, right? If you want ideas for how to answer math questions, you might get Family Math or Games for Math
Since she's leading, it doesn't really matter what would be next in a school setting. Just answer her questions as they come up.
Well, to be fair, in your original post you did say
But anyway, I think we're not understanding each other. I'm pretty sure I know what you're asking. If addition is the "next thing" she should learn after counting, you want to have addition resources (books, games, manipulatives) ready for when she says "show me more about numbers, mama!"
But I'm saying that things like numeracy and literacy foundations are best learned from life, conversation and open-ended play rather than educational games or manipulatives or books or what-have-you. I'm saying that if addition is the next thing she's wired to learn, and she's truly ready with all the prerequisite concepts, she'll just start noticing things in the real world and she'll start talking about how "four and then two more is six!" or asking "eight is bigger than seven, right, and so eighteen is bigger than seventeen too?" or "why is it called twelve and not two-teen?"
To me child-led learning at age two is not about a child showing curiosity and the parent responding with the next bit of learning direction and resources. It's the child leading the actual learning with her questions and observations. If we get caught up in tangible skills like addition and go ahead and provide teaching in that direction, we run the risk of our child missing out on the less tangible learning that should actually precede that: the number sense, the appreciation of patterns, the inter-relationship of numbers and their manipulation, the understand of the "three-ness of three" and the lovely symmetry of eight. I would go so far as to say that if you have to figure out what she should learn next, she's not likely truly ready for it.
Two of my kids began spontaneously reading as very young threes. Two were doing multiplication before age 4. I do understand precocious kids and the kind of drive to learn academic things that they can exhibit. I just think that it's important to leave it up to them what "the next thing" is. Life is packed full of basic pre-academic learning opportunities without the parent needing to provide education-related materials to guide things.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Miranda: Fair enough, I guess I misspoke. Often when DD hits a developmental leap or things suddenly change for us I have a few days of "bwah?!?!" where I post to the internet before fully thinking out all the issues. That's what the internet is for though. I got several neat ideas here, and many of the things you've mentioned we're already doing. In the 24 hours that I've been actively engaging her with more academic stuff she's stopped throwing tantrums, been sweet and affectionate, and generally speaking it's been awesome. Of course it's only one day, but I think she's been bored with indefinite free play. She really does thrive on the one on one attention and there's only so many times I can put a diaper on her baby doll before I go insane.
Oddly enough today she started tracing letters in a coloring book. Completely independently too. "Look Mommy, I drew an R!" Another one of those I didn't see coming at all. Also throughout the day she's been asking me to spell words and talk about letter sounds all over the place. Her name written on stuff, stop signs, whatever. My ideal has always been to keep things light and informal for the preschool stage, and we are. She's getting 99% of her learning in life. She does seem to really really enjoy a small amount of book work, which she then immediately applies to everything else. It's not just picking up stuff rote, this kid is making the connections, thinking it out. I'm still in shock over it.
I've been planning on making simple tangram shape type things, so that's just jumped up in priority. I got a few other good ideas from this thread, thanks everyone!
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