Last week I shared with you my magnet board idea for learning and playing. You probably wonder why I chose that, and why I chose the learn and play style. Before that….
Once upon a time…
So, back when I was younger, I took a bit of a break, we will say, from school. Two years actually. I went back when I had moved to Arizona. After I finished school (which was a whole whopping two months), I started a job as a teacher’s aid. The laws down there are much different to where I live now (which is Michigan if you were wondering). So, you only had to have graduated high school to be a teachers assistant. And to teach you had to have a degree that stated you went to college for 4 years. It could have been in underwater basket weaving for all they cared, as long as you had that paper that stated you did in fact attend college for four years.
So, I started working at a charter school. I got to experience many things while I was there, and let me tell you, those experiences were not so great. Appalling actually, but that is a story for another time. When I started I was an assistant in the first grade. We had a little boy there and he had a learning disability that meant whatever he was taught he could not retain for more than a hour or so. IF you could get the knowledge to be retained it would stay there, otherwise his short term memory just didn’t work. He had a special education teacher that came for him an hour a day, and it was my job to try to keep him involved in the classroom.
Not long after I was there, the special education teacher couldn’t make any improvements after 8 months with him, and was having difficulties speaking to his parents because they only spoke Spanish, so nothing was done at home to help him retain what he had learned. So I was asked to take over. We were allowed to use her room for an hour a day, and I needed to make some progress with him. So we started, and every day we went over the alphabet, numbers, and colors. He had had the alphabet pretty much down, and this was fairly easy for the parents to help him with at home, since the Spanish alphabet is similar to ours, they just needed to know how to pronounce them. But I learned that with flash cards, all they really had to do was show him the letter and allow him to do the rest. But, numbers, and especially colors…how was I going to do that?
His parents picked him up everyday, so I was able to speak to them daily, and let them know his progress. This was something the other teacher could not do because she didn’t speak Spanish. I shared with the parents my concerns, and asked them if they were on board with helping their son. Of course, they were. And further, they were happy to have more information on their son than they had in a while. They knew what the doctors said about his condition, but as far as a teacher, there wasn’t much information. And they were happy with the progress, and hungry to learn more on how to help their son.
So, everyday I went home after school and thought of this little boy and tried to figure out how to help him learn. Numbers could be easy, but how to explain to the parents the colors. So…I came up with a matching game. I colored and cut out little sombreros and brought them to school. We sat in the hallway and played the game. It was a matching game. He matched the sombreros and then had to tell me the colors that he had matched. That day after school, (I had made him a copy to keep at home) I explained to the parents how to do the game. Translated the colors for them, but let them know, it really didn’t matter what language it was as long as it was the proper color. Plus, I was working on the Spanish part with him as well. Once you know your colors, learning a different language that isn’t difficult to speak pronunciation wise, really isn’t that hard. (color and number wise that is). So, within the week he was almost a color pro.
At the end of the year, I let the parents know that having him in a public or charter school may not be the best for him. At the time I knew of a special education school not far from them, and let them know. I explained with his learning disability he needs to have a teacher that will spend all day with him instead of just an hour a day. As the teacher’s assistant, I was able to spend more time with him and took him off to the side frequently to work on things with him, but he needed more than that even. The parents were beyond grateful, and did take my advice. I don’t know how that little boy is doing today, but I wish I knew.
Now, the advice I gave them during that time and in that state was not against the law or even school policy. My boss, however, was not happy with me because that was a loss of money. I did not lose my job, my boss was just not happy to lose a child for the school. However, happily it was filled up again the next year, so not really a loss.
This is where I learned that learning in different ways starts at a young age. Yes, little ones are sponges, but they still have a system in how they retain the knowledge. And for those of you that are curious, no I am no longer an assistant or a teacher. I choose not to be, as I experienced some things in that school that made me cry myself to sleep if I could even stop worrying enough to sleep.
Anyhow…Learn N Play
I have one buggy that does extremely well with written and book work. That would be Beanie, and she is the oldest. The other two buggies, Belly Bug and Do Bug, they have a different learning process….if you can get them to sit long enough to do it. That is why I chose learn and play because it was not busy work, which you can not really get the other two to sit and do. But playing…they love that. All forms. So they react well to this, and Beanie can participate as well.
Sometimes the hardest process of teaching our children is finding the way they learn best. Also, it is finding the right way to go about it. So, shapes is covered….Colors are mostly covered and still working on it. And these are all things you can do with your child, or let our child have at it on their own. Learn and play has many different possibilities to aid in their education. And with this process you can start earlier as well. (IF you can get them to participate, and Do Bug is just one of those buggies that is entirely too busy unless it is something SHE wants to do.)
We use other forms as well, but they all seem to follow along with a hands on approach. We use music, they help me in the kitchen, I use television as a tool and sometimes a reward. In the mornings, they watch television and participate. If they aren’t participating the rule is they are not supposed to watch (I slack on that a bit). But the little ones LOVE to participate with many of the learning shows. Even Do bug speaks up and helps Mickey Mouse solve a problem. Learning is a big deal to us, so we use every tool we can.
So, what are some things you do to aid your little buggies’ learning?