Sunday, June 14, 2009

Teaching A Baby

What types of things can you teach a baby? And how will you know if they actually learned them?

Here are the things that babies can learn:
1) Reading
2) Music
3) Math
4) Multiple Languages
5) Sign Language
6) Encyclopedic Knowledge
7) Physical skills
8) Many other skills

I had to think for awhile, after learning about everything that a baby could learn, about what I wanted my baby to learn and why. First, I considered all of the skills that would be necessary for him to be a successful student and second, I considered all of the skills that would enhance his life as a young baby and toddler. I came to the conclusion that reading, math, and music were the primary skills I would focus on, taking into account what I know about my baby's personality currently and what my personal beliefs are concerning what education should be. However, many could come to a different conclusion ultimately. I see how a bilingual mother of twins might prioritize multiple languages and physical skills over math for instance. Or how a busy working mother with older kids may choose to only teach reading. It really is an individual decision that parents have to make.

And that brings me to the second question I presented. How will you know your baby learned the things that you are trying to teach them? Well, if you are teaching a very young infant, you probably will not know. If you are teaching an other child, they will either demonstrate what they know spontaneously, if you ask, or not at all. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will show you that they have learned anything at all before they are ready. So this, embarking on educating a baby, is a labor of love and gift from parent to child that is given freely, and nothing is required or asked of the baby in return for the parents' time and effort. I know that that may be hard to swallow at first, but it is very necessary to understand this, lest you become those flashcard parents on the movie Parenthood, whose entire life became wrapped up in creating a genius instead of letting the child be a child.

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