Does anyone do structured learning time everyday with their kids?

Erin - posted on 06/04/2010 ( 18 moms have responded )

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A friend who is considering staying home asked me if I did structured learning time with my daughter. I don't.
The reason she asked is because they do that in daycare with her son and he knows his colors already.
It made me wonder should I be doing structured learning time and if so what should I be doing?
My daughter is 17 months old and is definitely soaking up everything like a sponge. I coudn't believe it when she did the hand motions for itsy bitsy spider the other day. Where did she learn that? I haven't been drilling it into her.
I can say I'm definitley not thinking of making the whole day a "School day" but would love some ideas/suggestions for learning activities.

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Kim - posted on 06/04/2010

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I have 3 kids, all were reading before kindergarten, knew their colors by 12 months, numbers and letters by 18 months, could speak and be understood by strangers by 2 1/2.

I never had 'structured learning time' with them. Every minute can be a learning minute. I talked to/with them all the time. Had them in the kitchen with me when I prepared meals telling them what I was doing and what things were. "This is a yellow banana." With 2 or three things on the counter, asked them "Which one is the red apple." It is the every day moments that teach. We would make towers with blocks. I would show them one side of the block and ask "What color is this?" (9-12 months) When they got those down it changed to "What letter is this?" (12-18 months) After those were mastered, the question changed again to "What sound does this letter make?" (18-24 months) When they got the right answer, they put it on the stack. If they got it wrong, I put it back in the pile and we picked another. They all loved to make stacks and watch them fall when it got to high. They loved this game! A big part of their enjoyment was that I was doing it with them.

You are your child's first and best teacher. The grocery store was like a 'test' of their knowledge. I would say we need Cheerios. Can you find the yellow box or the box with a big C. Some of the stuff they just recognized, other things they had to look at. When they chose the right thing, they got to put it in the cart. (even if that meant I had to lift them up to reach the cart) They felt important and loved to help. They still at 12,10 and 5, like to put things in the cart and since they know what we buy, they don't slip in junk.

We went on walks with 'Adventure Baskets" picking up leaves and acorns and rocks and flowers. We would go home and glue them on paper and talk about what each thing was, where it came from and what it might be one day. Acorns-tree, rocks-sand, flowers, we would find the seed, and plant them and watch it grow on the window sill.

Alphabet hop. To start write a couple of letters spread out on the driveway, tell them what they are, and call out a letter for them to hop,skip, or jump to. This is fun about 20 minutes before naptime! As they learn their letters add more each time. Throw in a number or two. This would also work with shapes and colors, but I didn't think of it then.

Writing letters in a jelly pan of shaving cream or dry rice is fun too. Using their fingers they can try and if it is not right, just smooth it out and try again. A ton more fun than erasing. The dry rice will not hurt her if she eats it, one taste and she will probably be done anyway.

Talk with her. Wait for an answer. Interpret back to her what she said.

Structured time in daycare is because it makes the parents feel like they are getting their money's worth. It also makes parents feel like they are getting something there that they wouldn't get at home. It is a substitute for the love that only a mom can give. Besides, they are not able to meet the needs of each child individually, when one wants to sit and read and others want to run around, they have to make time for everything on a schedule.

When she brings you a book, read it! When she brings you a toy, play with her. When she crawls in your lap, cuddle her. (don't forget to sniff the sweet smell on the back of her neck, it goes away too soon)

Instead of structured learning time, you can structure her learning.

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I have a 2 year old and our day is fairly structured, but we don't have a specific "learning time." We wake up, eat breakfast, play or run an errand, eat lunch, take a nap, do some chores and cook supper together, eat, take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep. We go to a music class once a week and story time at the library once a week. Play time includes reading books, sorting blocks into colors, drawing letters with sidewalk chalk, coloring and just fun random play (baby dolls, kitchen set, swimming pool). That young, I don't think structure learning time is a necessity.

However, I am going to try to implement some sort of fun learning time with in the next few months. But I plan to go at her pace, and not force her to do it. If she doesn't respond well to it, we'll stop until she's a little older.

Someone in another community directed me to this website:
http://abcjesuslovesme.com/
It is a free homeschool curriculum for 3 and 4 year olds. Being that my daughter is only 2, I've been working on tweaking the 3 year old curriculum. We'll do colors and shapes, number and letter recognition, read the books, do the Bible story and sing the songs. I don't plan on teaching her to write or memorize the Bible verses. I plan on doing it very informally and at her pace. If we need to stay on a certain week for a month, so be it. If you are not religious, you could easily use this site and the activities, just take out the Bible story and memory verse.

Kristin - posted on 06/04/2010

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No, I want(ed - one is 5 now) my kids to learn executive order. This is a skill that is seriously lacking in a lot of students these days because of how structured their early lives were. It is the ability to decide when they have finished with something and move on to something new. At 2, it's generally very frustrating for adults, but vital to them in the future.



Small children are sponges and will learn heaps from you just by watching and playing with you. I slightly structured their day through mealtimes and naps. The remainder was maybe coloring and artsy kind of activities in the morning hours. These activites might include a class through the rec center, coloring, sidewalk chalk, bathtub paints (great for evenings too), gardening, etc. Sometimes storytime at the library too. Lunch was followed by physical (indoor or outdoor -weather?) activities and stories. These would be just running or playing in the yard, baby pool, blow bubbles, park time, "cleaning" (cause I HAVE to), kicking or tossing a ball around and reading stories we have or some borrowed from the library. But, if they didn't want to do one thing because there was something else they wanted to do, we did that.



Basically, I figured once they hit school age life was going to be very structured. They should get to be the little explorers and scientists they are as freely as they want until then. I was actually pretty resistant to putting our oldest in PreK at 4, until we sat in for part of a class. He just jumped right in and wanted to start. Then, after talking with him and my husband, we decided to let him try it. If he enjoyed it and wasn't getting stressed out by it (it does happen to some kids) we would keep going. If he didn't enjoy it, then we would take him back out. He loved it and had a sort of graduation last night.



You know your child best, and if she needs more stimulation than go for it. If she's happy as is, then don't change a thing. It can't hurt to try additional stuff, just keep it lots of play time and have fun with her. you only get them like this for such a short time.

Christine - posted on 06/04/2010

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My daughter is just turning two next week. I have done structured learning time since I thought she was able to communicate and understand flashcards. I try not to do much a day as kids will lose patience and attention fast. One day I do numbers, one day colors, one day words. I think this has helped seriously with her curiousity and wanting to learn. i started this because this is how my mom raised me and it always gave me a feeling as long as I can of just wanting to learn more. I have to say I think it's working as only being 2, she can count to 14 ( seems a block at this number I don't know why, maybe she can't say it yet), all colors, shapes (that the cards have) and abcs. Very proud :-) I did very well in school my whole life and i attitribute it all to my mother doing structured time with me up until I started school. I don't know if that is true, but how i feel. My fondest memories are of that time as well especailly these days.

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Jacqueline - posted on 06/09/2010

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I try to break up the learning in ten minute intervals throughout the day so it isn't a time consuming session especially since she is at the age where she can't listen very long.

Jodi - posted on 06/09/2010

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I don't consider what I do "structured" learning time. I play with my daughter using her toys and I read to her, there is plenty they learn just from that! My daughter is 15 months old, knows all her animal noises (even weird ones like a buffalo and an owl), knows 2 colors, also does hand action rhymes with me and can pick out the letter A from a group of 4 or 5 letters. All through play! I runa community dedicated to providing each other with fun, educational activities that we can do with our children, chalk full of interactive links and moms in the same boat as you and I! You should check it out!



http://apps.facebook.com/circleofmoms/e_...

Rachel - posted on 06/09/2010

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I personally don't have a set time when I sit them (my twins) down and do school stuff but through out the day I make a point to show things to them. I also try to stick with what they are interested with at the time. Right now my son likes to count and do shapes, my daughter likes colors and trying to finger count (wants to get the right fingers up) I also do matching games with them and point out things outside. I do plan to start having a set time to sit down and do learning time but they only are about to turn 3 on Friday and they have had a lot to deal with lately between a new baby and then Daddy deploying. I hope this helps

Destiny - posted on 06/09/2010

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i have done it with both my girls since they were born... and my two year old is now starting to read can do sign language, knows her colors shapes, can talk to ppl in full understandblesentences and is starting to regonize letters and numbers. and then my 3 month old is starting to communicate using sign language. i only work with them about an hour a day and sometimes 2 hours. it helps them out alot in the long run.. exspecialy since now in most kindergartens they have to know there abc's numbers up to ten how to write there names and how to read a basic picture book

Jessica - posted on 06/09/2010

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I just wanted to say that I loved this post and everyones responses. This is the kind of advise and sugestions I come on Circle of Moms for and it is often hard to find. Thank you to all the wonderful mothers who contributed and to Erin for starting such an encouraging conversation. My daughter is almost 2 and is developing very well but I see now that I could be interacting with her more and encouraging her progress. I particularly liked the Alphabet hop idea provided by Kim.
Cheers ladies!

Stephanie - posted on 06/08/2010

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I have a 6, 3, and 2 year old. I don't normally do structured learning time everyday. My oldest however started school last year and with the summer days having no structure what so ever and nothing to break up my long day, I have been doing a small activity everyday. Trying to anyway. I could be as little as coloring or reading a book and learning a word. For my oldest one she can practice writing or reading or addition. Just something to keep her mind refreshed. Some days come with more energy and we do art projects and learn about the sun, moon, or earth together. I doesn't have to be anything big. Having fun is learning. They learn the colors as they color.

Ivy - posted on 06/08/2010

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I do with my daughter. My husband and I got her "Your Baby Can Read" program when she was 11 months old. If we had heard about it when she born, we would have bought it then. She watches it 2 or 3 times a day. Sometimes more, at her request. I also read 4 books and one bath book to her. She knows a lot of words and tries to pronounce more. At the moment she is trying to say duck, chick(s) and dog. She doesn't know her colors or all her numbers, but I haven't really worked on that with her except for when it comes up.



I'm not intense on her getting it right. She loves watching her dvd, asks to be read to several times a day and if I am ignoring her asking, she knows how to get her books and how to operate the dvd player and put her dvd in herself. Oh I forgot to mention she is 15 months old.



It is easier for your child to learn now than as she gets closer to the age 5. So everything you help her with now, will make it easier for her later in life. For me, it is important that I help my baby as much as I can now as I know how difficult it was for me in school.



You don't need to get "Your baby can read," but explaining everything you do and pointing out body parts on her and yourself will help her. Once you start doing that, it will amaze you how much she will want to know more.

Joanna - posted on 06/08/2010

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Our only structured "learning" I guess you'd say is every evening when we ready 3 or 4 books. Otherwise we just take the day as it comes to us. Almost every day after nap while I'm making dinner we have arts/craft time, but I doubt people would count that as learning really. My daughter picks things up everywhere, so I wouldn't want to hinder that by having a set time at home for learning... She learns about shapes, colors, foods, etc, while we are at the store or running errands. She learns about nature, bugs, animals, weather, etc, while we are out on a walk. She learns about people, manners, sharing, etc, while out visiting friends/relatives. I think for 2 1/2, that's good enough :)

Ella - posted on 06/08/2010

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I do with 2 of my kids at least 30 minutes a day, my youngest 2 and they do show advancements of other kids their same age. I think it is beneficial and it shows you are willing to spend the extra time with them, helping them become successful. I also believe that they are learning other things during the day too playing, socializing, etc. and I teach them throughout the day also without the structure but, I believe once they are older they need both specially when learning certain things in school.

Jenna - posted on 06/04/2010

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I try to squeeze in an hour or two each day of sitting on the floor and actively "learning". Nothing too structured. We look at his "first word" books or play hand games.

Sunny - posted on 06/04/2010

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my daughter is 7 mths, i worked at a daycare for 5 years and i definately plan to teach her colors, shapes, letters numbers, but even at her early age things you wouldnt imagine are learning tools for her! my motto with her is if it wont hurt her (cords choking hazards and such) let her play with it, cause she is a sponge for new things

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I do with my son, but I didn't start until he was almost 3. He wanted to learn to read, so I taught him. That was the beginning of it and it soon became a habit. I didn't really plan to stick with it once he learned to read, but then I thought about the fact that he had never been in daycare and I wanted him to be used to the academic structure before he had to start school.
I just buy fun workbooks from Barnes&Noble and we spend a few minutes each day working on those. They are mostly math. Then we read a story and do some comprehension questions. I try to find a cool science project or experiment to do every week.
I think it has been beneficial, but I don't know that it would have helped much before he was 3.

Ella - posted on 06/04/2010

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I do with 2 of my kids at least 30 minutes a day, my youngest 2 and they do show advancements of other kids their same age. I think it is beneficial and it shows you are willing to spend the extra time with them, helping them become successful.

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