Genius experiment update and curriculum overview

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June 14, 2015

in curriculum, Early Learning, Home schooling, Kodaly, Literacy, physical development, preschool education, Raising children

My 4.5 year old is about to finish preschool in a couple of weeks and my almost 2.5 year old is about to start preschool, so it’s a good time to share an update of my two daughters that I’ve been meaning to share for a long time. There are a few reasons why I haven’t been able to update as often as planned. The main reason is that I run my own business from home and run this blog as a hobby, and in between running the business and trying to work with my kids outside of school hours, this blog has been a bit neglected over the last year. There’s been lots to write about though! Another reason might be that due to lack of consistency on my part and to some lack of enthusiasm for some of my early learning activities on the part of my elder daughter, I often felt I don’t have anything “spectacular” to share, even though both kids are doing great in many respects. But I do feel I have become wiser in terms of accepting that different personalities require different approaches (not surprising, I know!). I loved maths as a kid, for example, so it’s hard for me to understand how my own child can not LOVE doing maths rather than playing with dolls, but there you go, I have to accept my children are not me, and maybe it’s for the best! But more on this later!

4.5 year old update

M was my non-EL child, born long before I found out about Glenn Doman. But I was very aware of early stimulation and child development, and I exposed her to classical music, lots of language and plenty of books as a baby. When she was about 2.5, I found out about Glenn Doman and early learning and started introducing different reading programmes to accelerate her learning. We tried many different methods and programmes for reading, many of which she had no interest in. She did not really take to flash cards, Your Child Can read videos or the Little Reader programme at all. She did enjoy watching Monkisee videos but I doubt she learnt much from them. iPad apps were much more of a hit with her. She really liked the Bob books apps for spelling and could play them for a long time. The biggest success has been the Hooked on Phonics app, which is the only app we can use on a daily basis without facing resistance. Both kids love it. And they don’t just love the songs and games, M actually likes to read the books. We were lucky to be alerted to the classroom edition which was available for free download one day last year. Lucky for us, she goes to an excellent preschool that promotes early reading in those kids who are ready. They covered all the phonics and once they saw that she knew all her phonics, they played many blending games with CVC words, then slowly introducing a reading scheme with simple books that she would bring home to practice. M is now on Level 2 of the Oxford reading tree scheme. It’s nothing spectacular and several of her nursery friends are probably around the same level, but she is certainly doing well and will hit the ground running when she starts proper school in September.

NumiconMaths is the area that I always loved the most as a child and am most excited to work on, but so far I haven’t found that M is all that enthusiastic about it. She is doing great in sorting and matching as well as spotting patterns in several iPad apps (like Maths 3 – 5 or Monkey Math), she enjoys playing with the Numicon kit that I bought a few months back and also loves playing the LUK kit with me, but generally she just likes to play with these materials. She is much less interested in memorising any sort of number facts. She enjoys the Big Numbers Song on youtube (which they also sing in her preschool), so that’s a start. She LOVES money, so I am trying to use her fascination with coins to introduce her to addition and subtraction and the idea of the value of different coins. But again, progress is slow. I can show her a 2p coin and two 1p coins and she will be convinced two 1p coins are more than one 2p or 5p coin. When I try to explain the difference between the number of coins and the value of coins, she gets angry and doesn’t want to know. So progress in Maths is slow. I was very interested to read on Pokerdad’s blog that his PokerCub has the same fascination about money, and I will try out some of his suggested youtube videos to see if we get somewhere. I am a big fan of the Math Doodles app, but it still seems a bit early for M, even though she enjoys playing it with my help.

In Music, we haven’t been consistent with Little Musician at all, mainly because it’s on my husband’s PC which is quite slow, so we don’t do it much anymore. M does go to weekly music lessons that follow some sort of Kodaly method and she is learning about scales, rhythm, notation, different instruments and she is getting introduced to the piano. She can sing in tune very nicely and enjoys singing songs at home, as long as she thinks no-one is listening. I am less worried about music because most people in my family are very musical and the school she will attend starting in September is very strong in music (they have over 40 specialist music teachers!). We have not started her on any instrument lessons because I know that with her personality, it will be a struggle for me to get her to practice every day. So we have decided to focus on musicality as well and wait till she is about 6 to introduce music lessons. We had applied for various group string training programmes in London but did not get any of the popular places. M loves the guitar most, so we will wait until she is 6 and then hopefully start her on guitar lessons, if she is mature enough to practice consistently by that time.

Physical development is the one area she used to be slightly behind in because I did not know about Glenn Doman back then and she was a very big baby. Around the time she was 2 or 2.5, we focused our efforts on lots of walking and running and plenty of time outdoors on the playgrounds, climbing. By now, the fact that she is tall is starting to be beneficial. We dropped ballet after a year because she lost her enthusiasm and it was a battle to get her dressed and out of the house in time for her lessons (even though they took place 20 metres from our house!). Instead, she took up gymnastics classes a year ago and loved every minute of it. She would love to go twice per week if she could. The classes are run by a professional gymnastics club and are great, even after just one class she came home showing us new tricks she had learnt. M showed an interest in learning to ride a bicycle independently from around 3.5 years, and initially we did not push for it because I felt it would be hard to let her learn it safely while also watching our agile 1.5 year old, but then we were given an old children’s bike just before her 4th birthday and let her have a go. She was riding the bike independently (without stabilisers) for the first time on her 4th birthday, which seems to be early, since only one of her many friends can do it yet, even now that she is 4.5 years old. Just after her 4th birthday, we also enrolled her in 1-on-1 swimming classes and she has learnt to swim independently in recent months. She can swim underwater and on her back, dive for objects in the water and bring them back up. She thoroughly enjoys the classes and her coach is great.

Socially, M is doing really great. She has always been a sociable child who loved playing with other children and cousins and we very much encouraged this in her. She has made many great friends at preschool and become very close to many of her cousins as well. She can spend hours and hours engaging in imaginary play and role play with her friends. As soon as they come to our house, they disappear into their world and play for hours. It’s great for us because all we need to do is invite her friends over as proxy babysitters. She is also a lovely person who is generous and mature. Some children her age throw themselves on the floor and scream when they have to share, but generally she is very mature, giving up her favourite toy to comfort others and sharing ice cream or whatever it is to make her friends or her little sister happy.

So as you can see, I have outsourced quite a few of our early learning activities, in part because I don’t have the time or skills personally to do it, in part because we are lucky enough to live in London where all these great classes are on offer.

2.5 year old update

E is our little one and I found out about early learning when she was just a few months old. Initially, we concentrated on physical activities, with great success. She was sitting and crawling by five months and walking independently by 8 months. It was quite exhausting to watch this agile child who could toddle and climb anywhere but also constantly bumped her head and fell. She is our little “unstoppable” one, always on the go, climbing and jumping. She doesn’t sleep much either. She can ride the scooter like a champion and kicks the ball really hard, she will be a great football player (and already is). Even when she runs, everyone comments how fast she can run. She is very strong, too, and can hold her body weight hanging from a stick or a monkey bar without problems. She has been doing gymnastics classes in the same programme as her older sister and is doing great there, she is clearly ahead of other children in her age group. She could easily jump on the trampoline while others were just stumbling around and she taught herself how to do a forward roll from watching others aged 2. This has been a great success, and we didn’t actually even follow half of Doman’s activities, we simply let her sleep on her tummy and did lots of tummy time.

She’s been exposed to the same type of reading programmes and apps we tried out with her sister, and she was also quite keen on the Bob books app as well as Hooked on Phonics. Again, not keen at all on the rest. She’s not reading but she knows all her letters and phonics, which is fine by me. I was less keen on the sight word approach anyway, so we will go straight to phonics and blending CVC words. Since she knows all her phonics, I just show her CVC or other short words whenever we see them in books, spelling them out and then blending the word, so I am quite confident she will start blending words and recognising some of them over the next year. I should try out as well.

She seems keener on numbers and Maths than her older sister, at least she learnt counting very fast and can count to 12 already. She can recognise all the numbers. We watch counting songs and she really enjoys playing with our Numicon kit as well. She can find any number among the numicon shapes and tell you which number is missing in a sequence or put numbers in order.

She enjoys Little Musician when we do it and has recently started singing along the notes “Do – Mi – So” and is hitting the notes correctly, which is lovely. She can sing a few songs in tune with full lyrics, which has surprised some people in my family given how young she is. We just found out she got a spot in the oversubscribed Colourstring music classes that follow the Kodaly method and she will start that in September.

The little one is doing great with Encyclopaedic Knowledge as well. She loves learning new vocabulary and has become fascinated with animal names. The Usborne book1,000 animals has been particularly great, she is in love with the book and we have been studying it almost daily for months. She can recognise hundreds of animals, many of which I had never heard of before myself, such as the Kudu, Dik-Dik, Bongo, Egyptian Goose, the Tigerfish, Cassowary, Uakari, you name it. She even beats her older sister at animal names, to M’s dismay!

Socially, she is much more shy than her sister and generally afraid of other kids that she doesn’t know. She is also more interested in older children, as she is used to playing with her sister and her friends and older cousins. She does not seem to show any interest in her peers. She started nursery school half a year ago but does not really seem to enjoy it. She never wants to go and has not made any friends there. We cancelled her place there as a result and she will start going to the same lovely Montessori school her sister attended in fall. I really hope she becomes more social, for her own happiness.

Overall, my impression is with my elder daughter, progress is hard work, while with the little one, everything seems to be very easy. This is probably a function of our early start as well as the fact that she is the younger one and can pick everything up from her sister and cousins. I wish we could be more consistent and I am sure we would have progressed more if we had done more, but at the same time, it has not always been easy trying to work with the older one while the younger one was tired or cranky. Now that the little one is 2.5 years old, I feel we can finally start being more consistent. Fingers crossed!

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