As a former teacher, education is so, SO important to me! I cannot WAIT to really do “school time” with Gemma. Because she is only one year old we do not have any overly structured or planned schooling. However, she is a sponge and I want to take advantage of that! Gemma, along with all one year olds, is constantly learning and trying to figure things out. This is such an important time and I am doing my best to lay down a good foundation for her to build her education upon. So here are the things that I am currently teaching my one year old.
1. How to Follow Directions
Sure, colors and shapes are great but even more important than that is the ability to listen to a command, understand it, and then carry it out. If she walks into kindergarten knowing how to read but not being able to follow simple instructions, then she will still have a difficult time. It will be stressful for her, her teachers and her peers.
I always try and involve Gemma in our daily tasks of cleaning and hygiene. I have her help me with laundry (put things in the dryer, pull things out, etc), she helps unload dishes (It’s amazing, she knows where 50% of our dishes go), She brushes her hair and teeth (I actually brush both, but always give her a chance to do it as well – See #2). Gemma can find things when asked, she can bring things to me, and put things away. The biggest command we are currently working on is “come here”. I am pretty sure she knows what it means, but it’s very difficult for her to follow! Ha!
It is very important for Dallas and I to teach our kids independence. As difficult as it is, I think there is so much reward in allowing your child to learn and master skills early. Here are some examples: Dallas and I did not ever spoon feed Gemma. WHAT? Impossible, right? WRONG. We used the approach of Baby Led Weaning (READ ABOUT IT HERE) and loved it. I think there were a few times that Gemma would share a yogurt with Dallas and in that scenario, yes, he would feed her with a spoon. That’s it. The result of that? We have a completely independent eater. She does not rely on us to feed her.
Now as a one year old I am trying to teach her independence in other things. Maybe she wants to play with a puzzle but she can’t quite get the pieces in the right spot. I wait, encourage her to try a few more times, then I have her ask for “help”. When it’s time to go run errands, I send her to go get her shoes and then allow her to try and put them on. I give her time. Then I ask if I can help her. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when we are in a rush and then I take over without wasting ten minutes just sitting there watching her attempt to get her shoes on. However, the important thing to remember is to frequently allow your child TIME to attempt to do things on their own or to encourage them often to try things on their own.
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3. Kindness & Sharing (Working/Playing with Others)
It is so important for Gemma to learn how to play well with others. Having a little brother so close in age definitely gives me plenty of opportunity to teach this. Honestly, I am still learning how exactly to teach this. I think it boils down to correcting any unkind behavior and setting an example. When we are playing with a fun toy together we will practice passing it back and forth. I’ll let Gemma play during “Gemma’s turn”, then I ask for the toy to play with it for “mama’s turn”. We are also working on polite vocabulary like “please” and “thank you”, and “excuse me”. I also have to remind Gemma to be gentle and sweet to her brother because she can be pretty aggressive.
4. Body Parts & Kinetic Tasks
After months of repetition we are finally getting the hang of body parts. Gemma knows where her head, hands, feet, belly, butt, back, knees, and toes are. She can also point out her hair, eyes, cheeks, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, chin and neck. It is so fun to watch her little world expand with each new vocabulary word that she grasps.
Along with body parts we are learning all different types of movements. She has fully mastered stomping her feet, spinning, clapping and standing on one foot (with help from a wall or sofa of course). Gemma is rambunctious and active and these are my favorite things to do with her.
5. Animals & Sounds
We have moved on from body parts and are really trying to learn the animals and their sounds. Gemma has a big animal book that she loves! She can point out cows, pigs, dogs, cats and elephants and can make the correct sound. She also knows the sounds of monkeys, horses and snakes but can’t recognize the animal yet. This is something I know we’ll be spending lots of time on in the next month as we read and re-read her Animal Book.
The Next Six Months
Over the next few months I am hoping to add more animals and start introducing shapes and colors! It is so fun watching her grow. She is constantly mimicking Dallas and I. She loves to wear our shoes, try and put on clothes, even tuck in or feed her baby dolls (and sometimes her real live baby, Evander!). It is crazy to me how much she already understands. She is observant and learns so quickly. I am in awe of her. She is bright and active and I hope to continue to encourage those traits in a way that will help her succeed.
MY FAVORITE EDUCATIONAL/PLAY TOYS
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