I love the quote that I used as the title of this post. It's so true. You can't expect for children to remember something today that didn't take place yesterday. As a mom, I try to be a part of every minute of my children's lives. We all know it's impossible, but as a mom, I try. As a parent, you are the most influential thing in their lives and you're the one that has the biggest effect on them. So turn the Tv off and get away from the computer and just sit with your kids. Do different activities, such as, coloring, exercising, dancing, go for a walk, anything that involves interaction with them! When John (my husband) and I see on the news that these kids are violent, insane, depressed and doing criminal things, right away we do not blame kids doing these things, we blame the parents/guardians in their lives. As parents we try to teach them wrong from right everyday to only hope that this will carry on into adulthood. So we can only wonder where are the parents in these cases and who were their influences growing up?
As a stay at home mom, I feel like I have more of an opportunity to spend one on one time with my girls and teach them different things everyday. My 19 month, Lyla, was a very early speaker and hasn't stopped since! She is now saying full sentences when she talks, tells stories, sings complete songs, knows all her colors, alphabet, shapes, characters and counts to 10 in 2 different languages (I'm Brazilian and speak Portuguese, therefore my children will be bilingual). I see signs that my 6 month old, Kalina, will be following in her big sister's steps too! (Not to brag or anything lol) Having that job title as a "stay at home mom", you feel more pressure to expand your children's knowledge because society will expect them to know more because they are getting more one on one attention from you. So I decided to take that role as "teacher" to my kids while they are at home with me. I realized how much fun it really is teaching them something and then watching them learn and perform what you taught them. There is no more gratitude when Lyla is saying or doing something my husband and I taught her and people get so amazed and impressed on how smart she is. That's when I realized how much of an effect we really have on her, especially on her vocabulary (so be careful what you say around them).
There are everyday activities that you can do with them around the house or even while you're running errands that will contribute to their learning. Such as:
-Count Everything- Include counting from 1-10 in everything that you can. You can count with snacks, how many crackers, cereal puffs, friuts etc. you are giving them. When we take Lyla up the steps which she now climbs herself, we always count each step that we go up. Anything that we see in bunches, we will count! It really helps them and they don't even realize that they're learning. Now, Lyla just starts counting things on her own...
-Colors- I introduced coloring to Lyla when she was about 15 months old. That's when she could really hold a crayon and got the concept to brush it against a piece of paper. That's when she drew her first picture that still hangs on my fridge today! I always sat down with her with different coloring books, paper and poster boards so that we could just color it all. She loved coloring on a big poster board. I would sit her right in the middle and that way she could color all around her and not get it on the floor. Every time she picked up a different color, I would tell her what color it was. I started going outside of "crayons" to show her that color exits everywhere else, because she started associating colors with only things you draw with. Even when putting on an outfit on her I would ask "What color is this?" and she would tell me or if she didn't know I would tell her. She now uses color as part of her vocabulary and it really helps you to understand something they want and do not know the name for it. Example: I had a hair tie around my wrist and she kept moaning and groaning for it because she did not know what it was called. I kept asking her what she wanted and she just kept pointing to it from afar. I had no idea what she was pointing at until she said "black" and I looked down on my wrist and my hair tie was black. I was amazed. Even today when she does not know what something is called she will refer to it by the color or shape and I know what she is saying. And we all know how much of a relief it is when we finally know what they want! Make learning colors fun! Lyla loved learning colors with M&M's.
-Talk Your Way Through- When feeding, changing a diaper, cooking etc. don't just do it and say all done! Talk your way through whatever you're doing with your children so they follow you as well. Anytime I change Lyla's diaper, I tell her we're going to go change her diaper. As silly as it may sound, I even tell her what's in the diaper. If I'm going to get wipes, I tell her. I guide her through the whole process. It even helps for her to sit more still because it's like she's hearing a story. Today, if she gets something on her hands that needs to be wiped off, she tells me "Mommy, wipes". So talk your way through anything that you can, even when you're changing they're clothes, you can start teaching them body parts such as arms & legs and left from right.
-ABCs- I bought those foam ABC stickers that sticks to the walls in the bath tub and found out that's a great way of learning the alphabet with them. She likes to go splashing with the different letters and numbers. John now created a game with Lyla that very quietly he will ask her "What letter is this?" and she loves to shout really loud what it is and if she gets it right, we scream really loud. My mother also bought her the aquadoodle that sticks to the wall. I put mine up in the living room at her height. I will sit there with her and draw different things and she will too. The best part of it all that once it dries up, it erases itself and you can color on it all over again! I always write the alphabet on there while singing the song. And now she sings right along with me and knows the different letters even if they are not in order. When she sees a word, she likes to spell it out, it's really cute to watch! (Also, it's a great way to be cute with your spouse. John and I will try to leave each other messages with the letters & numbers, so when we get in our showers, we have a little message surprise!)
-Walk of Knowledge- I love taking my girls for a walk. It's also a great way of your children learning the outdoors. It's almost like they're going on a school trip! We'll point to the trees, birds, leaves, cars, people etc. Lyla loves to say Hi to the different things she sees outside. She's learning and getting some fresh air at the same time!
Here are some tips on how to teach them different things that helped me:
*Be repetitive and consistent- NO MATTER WHAT! Don't think you sound silly or ever think "Oh they're not getting it" because they are taking it all in! One of the first things that I taught Lyla was to answer her name when I asked her what it was. I would repeatedly and I mean repeatedly ask her "What's your name" and I would answer for her "Lyla" and cheer myself on and laugh. She would find this so funny. She couldn't wait until I got to the "Lyla" part so she can cheer with me. Then I would not say the Lyla part and that's where she took over. So it became a game when I asked her what her name was and she would answer me, we would both laugh and cheer together.
*Include teachings in everyday things- Like I said up top, you can include learning in anything that you do.
*One on one- Find one on one time with each child, if you have more than one. One on one time is very crucial at least once a day. They need to feel special even if it's for 20 minutes. They pay attention more and listen better when you're talking directly to them and only them. Again, turn the Tv, computer, cell phone, off and just sit with them. They learn so much more when you're doing it with them instead of just handing them a coloring book and say "Here, go color".
*Don't be the only Teacher- Include your spouse, family & friends to teach them what you taught them already or something new. I found out when I was the only one teaching something to Lyla she would only do it when I asked her to or when I was around. So I started including John and our friends & families to repeat what we taught her.
*Always celebrate & cheer- Even if it's the smallest thing, give a BIG cheer and celebration. They need to feel like what they did was right and fun so they will want to keep doing it.
*Read books- READ, READ, READ! Even if you think you have an energetic child, read to them! Even if you think they're not listening or paying attention. Sometimes I would not read the story inside the books because it was way too long for Lyla to sit still and sometimes she didn't get it. So I made up my own stories as I went along or I would just point to different things in the picture. When rocking her to sleep we would sit with a book or when she was eating. I found that when they are eating they pay attention a lot more as well.
Sorry for the long post, but hopefully these tips were helpful!