From the time our little ones are babbling and bobbing around we start putting blocks with letters and flash cards with numbers in front of them. We sing the ABCs dozens of times and teach signing and multiple languages and recite nursery rhymes and quiz them and prod them with these most basic learning materials.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped the pushing and reciting and prodding. My boys were more interested in experiences and sounds and play and listening to me read to them; and frankly, so was I.
They love to touch things and gather and collect items. They like to ask questions and explore and try their hands at things. They like to ask me questions to look up online and create their own worlds based on what they see and hear.
And yes, they watch TV programs that are neither educational nor lesson oriented. And they often arm themselves with "weapons", as they categorize them, before running out to play super hero or spy with the neighborhood kids. And they play video games on the Wii and on our phones and on the tablet and the computer.
But, here's what I determined. Rote learning will come. They will learn their ABCs and 123s. They will learn to read and write and do math and jumping jacks. They will go to school and be taught these things. And I will sit and do homework duty and reinforce that which is being taught.
And yet, I will not stress over whether they can spell better than anyone else in class. I will not worry whether they can recite the alphabet in the correct order or count to 1000 faster and first in class; because they will know these things.
Instead, I will take them on trips and to festivals and events and plays and concerts and picnics and I will read books to them and be read to by them (as they gain this skill) and we will try new foods and plant a garden and discuss God and ghosts and the universe and black holes and ticks and super heroes and arrow heads and birthday party ideas and costume designs and rock n' roll and minecraft and much more.
So, if your child knows the alphabet in three languages, backwards, forwards and sideways by the time he is 3, that's great. But if he doesn't; no worries. He will. Just keep reading and talking and adventuring. It will all come in time, as it has with my boys.
Don't skip over the best parts; the creative parts and philosophical parts and engineering parts. These parts fuel the brain and make the reading and writing and arithmetic essential to carry on with the fun parts. Over and out...