Tag Archives: Preschool

There’s a Teacher in All of Us

Simone at SED

By:  Davida Grant

Simone’s preschool class is tackling the alphabet.   Baby girl already knows the ABC song, and can sing it with great feeling and enthusiasm.  If you point to an individual letter, there’s even a good chance she’ll get it right.  Truth is, she really doesn’t know most of the letters.  My baby has mastered the art of guessing.  I wonder who she takes that after.

I am a strong believer that parents should reinforce what their kids learn in school.  When Simone’s teacher advised that we should work with Simone on identifying lower case letters, I thought it would be a piece a cake.  I reasoned that Simone hadn’t mastered the skill because she didn’t have sufficient one-on-one time with her teachers.  Uhhhhhhh, not exactly.  I quickly surmised that it’s going to take a boat load of repetitious activity for Simone to learn her letters.  Oh how I long for the days when all I did was read Simone two books before bed. 

I was not prepared for the amount of work, or maybe I should say effort, involved in educating a child.  Simone and I will spend 30 minutes reviewing three letters.  We’ll go over and over and over them and when we finish, I’m convinced Simone has it. We celebrate with high fives, lots of “good jobs,” even a happy dance.  Then, literally five minutes later, I’ll ask her to identify one of the letters – say the letter c – and she’ll look at it and say, “I don’t know.”  How do teachers do it day in and day out with 20+ preschoolers, all at different stages of pre-literacy development?   God bless them!!!  I now know without a shadow of doubt that “teaching” academics is not part of my skill set.  It does not come naturally and it really is a bear.  If I could find a way to completely hand this off to my hubby, who by the way often conveniently disappears from the room when Simone and I begin an alphabet “teaching” session, I most certainly would. He thinks he’s slick.

On a serious note, as I reflected on this particular journey with Simone, I started thinking about all the things I am good at in terms of “teaching.”  I teach baby girl how to be courteous.  I teach her what it means to be a lady.  I teach her what it means to be beautiful, inside and out.  I teach her how to show love.  I teach her how a wife should treat her husband.  So, even though I may struggle with “teaching” her academics, I excel (yep, I am tooting my own horn) at “teaching” baby girl so many others things, things that are equally important to her growth and development.   I’m happy to say that I too wear the moniker “teacher” and Simone is and always will be my star pupil.  

Oh, and as far as continuing to do my part to reinforce Simone’s academic learning at home, in the words of Olivia Pope, “It’s handled.” 

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Filed under Education, Parenting Trends

Is it ever TOO early to formally teach your child a second language?

By:  Davida Grant

My husband and I are committed to bilingualism for our kids.  With Simone, we hired a nanny when she was 1, whose native language was Spanish. Our thinking was, the sooner she’s immersed in a second language, the better.  At 2, we enrolled her in a bilingual daycare.  Last week Simone, now 3, started preschool at a bilingual DC PCS.  So how is Simone doing? Well, my feelings here are mixed.  Yes she knows quite a bit of Spanish. But, her mastery of the English language has suffered quite a bit.  I know that every child is different, but Simone is quite behind some of her peers that have not yet been formally exposed to a second language.  So, I can’t help but wonder if formally exposing a child to a second language before preschool is too early?

We now have to decide whether to put Grant in an English-centered daycare or bilingual/immersion daycare.  I’ve talked to a few bilingual educators on this and there is no consensus.  Some recommend that we immerse Grant in Spanish as soon as possible, which is consistent with the approach we took with Simone.  That way, he’ll learn the languages in tandem.  Others recommend that we wait until Grant enters preschool before putting him in an immersion or 50/50 bilingual program. They believe it’s critically important for a child to have a solid foundation in the primary language BEFORE introducing the second language in any significant way.  In their experience, it’s harder for children to master either language if they don’t have a foundation in their native language.

The hubby and I have some serious thinking to do.

Have you had to deal with this issue?  What are your thoughts and experiences?

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Filed under Toddlers