By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Editor’s note: The Register published an article in November about the addition of the Toyota “bornlearning Academy” at Berea Community School. The school received a $11,500 grant to fund the academy, which includes monthly workshops for parents and children 0 to 5. The workshops teach parents and caregivers how to turn everyday activities into learning activities. A Register reporter with a 2-year-old decided to sign up for the Academy. This is the fourth in a series about what was learned at the workshops.
When the bornlearning workshop facilitator, Barb Mills, asked the group of parents about their morning “get-out-the-door” routine, it was like she asked everybody how their last colonoscopy went.
I knew several of the parents at the workshop had 2-year-olds, so their morning experiences were similar to mine.
One kid wanted to take all their toys with them to the car, and would have a “meltdown” when they were taken away, her mom said.
My son doesn’t want to eat breakfast and resists when I’m trying to get him dressed because he knows that means he’s going to school.
Tuesday’s workshop covered ways to “learn on the go,” at home, while traveling and in public places.
One way to enhance early learning during the morning routine is to talk about the weather and to help your child choose clothes accordingly, Mills said.
Parents also can show children the calendar and talk about what day it is. And although it may take a little more time, parents should let children zip some of their own zippers and have a hand in preparing their own breakfast.
If this sounds like a breakfast disaster waiting to happen, it probably is, but there are ways to balance the morning rush while finding opportunities for learning.
“You want their experiences to be successful, too,” Mills said.
She suggested putting breakfast cereal and milk in smaller, easier to manage containers so children can work on serving themselves.
The night before, clothes can be laid out for the day to shave off some time with that process.
After work, Mills said, parents should talk about their day with their children and allow them to talk about their day. This shows that you are interested in what they have to say, which builds self-confidence.
Although my 2-year-old can’t carry out a long conversation with me, I always ask him what he did that day. Sometimes, he’ll sing a song he learned or I’ll catch bits and pieces of his classmate’s names, so I know he knows what I’m asking.
My son’s (excellent) daycare teachers write a little description on his daily reports of what he enjoyed doing that day. Sometimes I’ll read those and ask him about it.
Because people usually have a commute in their day, a car ride is an excellent opportunity to learn, Mills said.
Ryker is my best audience (he doesn’t judge), so I sing for him and he sings for me, which is a great way to build vocabulary. His favorite song is “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. It’s a good thing I love that song too because I have to play it over and over again.
My son also has been known to go around singing Slayer songs, which is a result of riding in his father’s car (wagging my finger at you Jimmy).
Naming street signs, the color of vehicles, images on billboards are some other ideas. Ryker’s uncle taught him “green” means “go” and “red” means “stop” — something he constantly reminds me of every time we encounter traffic lights.
There is always a lot of learning that can happen in public places. But, if you’re the parent of a toddler, going to a public place can be a nightmare.
If we go to a restaurant with candles or lamps on the table, my son makes it his mission to extinguish every single flame.
Taking him grocery shopping also can be a challenge. He doesn’t want to stay in the cart and he’s too little to walk by my side without getting plowed by a shopping cart.
If I can find other ways to keep his attention, then maybe I won’t feel like I’m on an episode of “Supermarket Sweep,” where contestant race to fill their carts as quick as possible.
One suggestion from our bornlearning binder is to talk to your child in advance about a special thing he or she could buy at the store. Then look for it, like a treasure hunt. This helps your child become a good observer.
Or, if your child is a little older, cut out pictures of the items you are going to buy and match those with the items in the store. I imagine coupons would work (saving money and learning at the same time, you can’t beat that).
A new couple to the workshop talked about raising their own five kids, ages 1 month to 6 years. It kind of makes my own parenting challenges look like a day at the spa.
Both parents also are students and have found ways to make it all work.
“You just have to smile,” said the father. “Coffee becomes your best friend.”
At an early age, the mother teaches her children how to wash themselves during a bath, she said. She also engages them in the entire laundry process, from pouring the detergent, to sorting the clothes, folding them and then putting them away.
Somehow, they can take care of their kids’ needs while engaging them in learning. If they can find the time for five children, surely, I can do this with just the one.
The next bornlearning workshop is May 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Those who are interested in joining may contact Diane Smith at 986-1021. Dinner and childcare is provided.