My wee one is just over 18 months and really getting stuck into her world. In every way and its wonderful. She is learning the words to go with things and repeating everything , which with three teens who sometimes forget their language and pepper every sentence with expletives it can be fun ! Ive notice she is really engaging in her world, she looks to me to teach her more each day and I need to come up with ways to challenge her on all fronts. Right now we are being very sensory based. Ive noticed she responded to physical language as well as verbal.
What I mean by that is she likes to touch everything ! When she was a baby it was taste everything , everything in the mouth. Now she like to hold things, touch things and sometimes lick things. Which isn't great when it's the car window ! But she likes to feel what word she is learning. So when we are doing body parts at bath time, she loves to wash what ever it is I've said. First I touch it and then she sponges it and then we go pop quiz style and mix it up. Ill touch her shoulder and say toes. She gets great delight in saying no and then showing me the right part and grabbing it. I have found this aids faster learning as it engages all the brain , as in sound, feel and say what new word it is. You can learn colours and numbers that way if you have a puzzle or cut outs like foam bath toys in the subject. You can help them to learning adjectives, through using senses. The cat is soft and feel the fur. They learn soft, the feel of it that they can conjure up in their minds at a later date to describe something.
This tactile way of learning is very easy and fun and is all around us. We had a freak snow storm last week. Wee one was out rugged up and learning about snow, cold, crunchy underfoot. With spring now hopefully , coming , we can finally get outside and feel the grass, mud. Warmth of sunshine on us. The farms are opening up for Easter with baby animals and lots of textures and smells and experience for wee ones. Holding a bunny or chick, touching a lambs surprisingly wiry coat. Squelching in puddles and feeling the texture of hay. We can finally get on to the beach without being sand blasted. Not the texture experience I was going for the other day. But wee one collected shells, ran away from the waves and dug up the sand. I was showing her the difference between dry and wet sand . An invaluable lesson when sandcastle making as the dry sand just doesn't hold up ! Even a walk can yield so many sensory experiences, the crunch of leaves and the rough bark of trees. Cold and smooth feel of hand rails and definitely my wee ones favourite thing to do walk the walls. She feels the bushes and plants along the walls , we see spiders webs and moss ( she is fascinated with poking the moss ) the texture of stone, concrete and brick walls. Im now always armed with a wipe for when she gets very curious! Although it is good for them to have dirt on them to build up immunities.
Inside the house, I have got a box of goodies, for her to experiment with , crisp packets that crinkle, satin and velvet ribbon, a piece of old sheeps skin to feel. Feathers , Shells and stones, rough and smooth . A rubber prickly massager thing, a hair brush and an old soft make up brush that she loves to just run over her face. We have play dough to squeeze and slime to squish between her fingers. See home made recipes below.
As I said above bath time is great , the bubbles and the slippery soap or wash, the water itself, the fluffy towel, the scratch of daddies five o clock shadow when he kisses her as she runs away from him. Wet hair in their skin , the warm lotion and talcing powder when you're massaging them before getting dressed . Hairdryer if they let you.
Bed time stories that involve feeling the book as well as reading it. Lift the flaps and textured books are great , like 'thats not my series'. Wee ones favourite is a good night baby animals and each one is textured differently.
Another wonderful play and learning tool is a sensory board. Get buckles, zips, locks, shoe laces, buttons any thing and everything. Then drill, stick, sew onto an old chopping board or large piece of MDF and get creative. See below for ideas . On a rainy day pulling this out can give hours of fun. The amount of hand eye coordination , switching on both sides of the brain and learning through play they get out of these is unimaginable. It's a quiet moment for you to play with them , show them how to , and let them figure it out and you go have a cuppa.
I am a huge advocate that everything is a learning experience and I have found over the years of working with wee ones, young and old that if they can see it, feel it , say it, hear it, taste it , touch it. Turn on their senses they learn better. Giving them multiple points of reference helps them to process and retain the information. All children and even in to adulthood learn through experiencing instead of just reading about it. Doing it is exponentially better that just watching it. Right now my wee one is learning about animals and what sounds they make. See the animal make it will teach her far quicker than just a book with pictures and me poorly trying to baa or meow. In getting out and experiencing life first hand we can reinforce their understanding and knowledge of how things fit together in their world.
This way of learning , I have found continues right up into teenage years. When older ones, in a past job were learning about different countries , we went to the restaurants and tried the food. Learnt to use chopsticks or to make the traditional dishes of where ever they happen to be focussing on at home . Heck one job took it further and they could they went to the place they were studying on a holiday . Lucky for some I know ! But if you can , hands on, full immersion in what ever you doing is the best way to learn. They say speak a second language , you have to live in where it is spoken.
We as parents have to remember to get back to basics and learning with our kids from the ground up as such , seeing things from their level helps us to help them. Its free, easy and so beneficial for everyone. So get get out there, get touchy feely, and use the world as yours and their classroom.