I totally fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to use flash cards with the baby, even though in the back of my mind I had a sneaking suspicion that it didn't make sense. Finally I understand why after reading Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn -- and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Diane Eyer.
I enjoyed the book a lot and liked that they wrote the book based on reviewing published scientific literature on each subject like reading, math, and social skills. I also liked the little games and activities mentioned to allow you to see how your baby's brain changes over the course of months or years. My biggest takeaway: babies learn the best just from normal play and everyday interactions.
Not about raising going geniuses
Not about fancy toys or classes
Relax more and let them play
About raising happy healthy intelligent kids
Play = learning
Scientific basis, reviewing published studies
1 plight of modern parent
Too early teaching and overscheduling and pressure
Focus on outcome instead of process
Downtime to just be and reflect
Academic preschools provide no academic advantage over play based. Less creative and more anxious.
Reflect, resist, and re-center
Consider new class/toy and if worth lowering amount of unstructured play time. Resist. Reassure self that what's best for child's learning is play.
Everyday purposeful activities more important
See world around you and daily activities as full of opportunities to learn different things
2 brainchild: how babies are wired to learn
Mozart doesn't make baby smarter
Of Parents as brain sculptors
That research provides manual for building better brain
Hype and urgency over first years
Bigger brain not necessarily better
Pruning of synapses over time is natural development and growth
Brain always growing and changing
More stimulation not always better
Enriched environment rats did better than solitary confinement rats, but Rats remaining in nature had best brains of all
No child is in such unenriched environment.
Lots of brain development occurs independently of experience
Experience expectant behaviors (vision, speech, athletic abilities) programmed by genes to unfold expecting the experiences to happen and not needing to be architects by parents
experience dependent skills like reading and chess picked up by brains throughout life and don't depend at all on early learning
Ordinary experiences sufficient for experience expectant skills
Second language teaching and musical training likely more effective if started early but window of opportunity large (10 years)
Neurological crowding: early learning may crowd out other important synaptic connections
First 3 years and critical period theory
Language learning and visual learning are behaviors with critical periods
Most Windows close slowly with development and relate to basic sensory and motor capacities not higher mental ones
Responsive periods do not exist at all for experience dependent behaviors
No need to over enrich environment
3 playing the numbers: how children learn about quantity
Best way to learn math is by playing with and investigating objects in their world
Must first learn counting and concept of number line
Babies just have sensitivity to quantity/rough amounts like more or less but not numbers
Number sensitivity not same as math
Not about memorizing names for quantities
Number vs amount of stuff
Infants pay more attention to amount not number of stuff and can tell more vs less
“Counting on” strategy develops around age 5. Game for 4-6yo: count 3 items and then add 2 more and ask how many and see if counts from beginning
Children learn on their own when number matter or when amount matters
Game: line up objects in parallel lines for one to one correspondence
Game for 3-6yo: conservation experiment with same number but more spread out rows
Children learn on own by playing with objects and talking about numbers with people
One to one principle (each item counted only once). 2.5yo
Stable order principle (numbers in fixed order)
Game 2-4yo: count multiple sets of objects
Cardinal principle: number of items in set is same as last number tag
Abstraction Prínciple: can count anything
Order irrelevance principle: doesn't matter where you start counting
Game 2-4: ask child to count different types of things to see how he counts. Ask to start count at different objects. Ask why total is same.
Game 3-6: take 3 sets and ask which is biggest and smallest and if middle set bigger or smaller than other ones
Counting and comparing
5-6 yo can do both
Simple addition and subtraction word problems you make up as part of daily living
Homemade number line game moving up and down towards finish line with dice roll. Comparing who is ahead. Having some spaces that make u move back or forward extra.
Games: sorting forks from knives into sets, counting objects, exploring patterns
Game 4-5: put X number of items in bag X for X up to 5. Dump out 2 bag contents and compare which has more or less.
Parents provide different levels of scaffolding and support as kids age
Blocks not videos. Line up, compare.
Find the numbers everywhere. Shopping trip. Putting out napkins.
Playing. War card game. Money coin games.
Learn in context. Lemonade stand. Shopping for big and small apples. Board games for 3-4. Candy land. Baking.
4 language: the power of babble
Parents don't have to be teachers
Common daily interactions are enough
Interact with kids over what grabs their attention already
Babies in charge of directing the interaction
Babies negotiate and grunt for objects they want for several turns while adult names different ones
Game 9-18mo: negotiation process practice with desired object placed away
Wide range in normal development
Only species where language is instinct
Left brain for speaking and right for expressing emotion
Babies in womb already prefer mom's voice and native tongue from birth. Already learning patterns.
4 month olds divide up sentences and recognize own name
Game 4-8m: sneak up and say name with same stress pattern and syllables and see if responds
Babies learn words following their name. After 7.5 months don't need their name anymore. Will remember words heard in sentences.
Gazing and pointing
Game 6-12m: follow ur gaze and pointing finger. Just say baby's name to get attention and look elsewhere.
Babble and language
First year about figuring out sounds
Second year for meaning
First word is such that has same meaning each time it's used, used for intention to communicate, and used across contexts (picture and real thing)
Game 9-18m: make list of first baby words with date first said and 3 columns (consistent meaning, attempt to communicate, variety of instances) and see when doing all these things and long it took to get to that from first usage and what context first usage was in
Baby signs do help language development.
Game 10-18m: teach some signs
50 words by 18 months. Once know 50, vocabulary quickly explodes (9 new words per day)
Game 18-30m: write down first word combinations and what trying to say.
3-4 years: figure out grammar all on their own
Game 24-36m: wug test to see what grammar rules child has internalized. Repeat every 4 months to track progress.
4th year: pragmatics
How and when what language is used
They figure out social rules themselves. Mimic us.
Game 12-24m: notice how you train pragmatics/social conventions of speech
Tell lots of stories about your childhood
Parents role as language partner
Keep the conversation going
Brainstorm silly ways to put away toys like with toes and ask questions
Talk about what child observing and doing
Build on what he says
Learn to separate languages around 2-2.5
Baby talk has benefits
No need to correct children's speech
Be a conversation elicitor not closer
5 literacy, reading
Ask child questions about what reading
Just make reading fun and not work
Reading aloud is most important activity
Early reading training doesn't keep kids ahead
Just read and discuss content of book
Vocabulary biggest predictor of reading ability
Storytelling second major skill. Creates decontextualized language.
Game 3-5y: show picture book and have child make up story. Repeat every 6 months to see how story evolves and record them. Or ask them to complete story after prompt like the funniest thing that happened to me today was
Listen attentively to what kids say. Respond substantively.
Phonological awareness. Words make up sounds.
Games: Play games with language by singing songs or reading poems with rhymes. Seuss. Popular song replacing first letter “Mary fary bo Barry…” Alphabet song. Look for objects from car that start with certain letters. Say a word and ask child to say it without one of its parts.
Game 8-20m: every 3 months record what baby does with picture book (eat, grab pics off page, point)
Game 18m-3y: hand new book and see if knows what direction it goes and where is front and how pages turn and ask if story is in pictures or words
Game 2-4y: make 4 cards with letter, 4 with word, with design/squiggle/shape, and with pic (16 total). Ask child to separate writing from non-writing. Ask which ones he can name. Repeat every 3-4mo.
No need to formally teach letter names. Just read a lot and do literacy activities.
Game 3y: ask child to tell you a story and type it up halfway down page and then after ask him to illustrate it on top with picture. Ask about something recently done or which he found exciting. May need to ask leading questions.
Game 15-24m: when will kid make first mark on paper/fundamental graphic act. Provide a pencil without a point and some paper every few months. What happens when give him one with point.
Letter orientation initially confused because it's the first time orientation of something matters. Relax.
Go to library and allow picking out own book
Read daily and show how u read for fun
Magnet letters for child to find letters of his name and spell out. Copy spelling of product in kitchen with label.
Lots of blank paper in different colors and writing materials
Alphabet and number blocks
Stamps to learn the letters. Show name spelling of someone and have child find stamps for letters and copy it over in stamps.
Tell kids stories. Make up own stories together.
Try word games. See how many words you can say starting with same sound. Take compound word and ask what it is without one part. Read rhyming poetry (shel Silverstein).
Dialogic reading. Ask to consider other outcomes, relate what's on page to own experience, talk about sounds and letters.
Encourage child to take active role during reading. Point at pics and name pics. Predict what will happen next or how characters feel. What would happen if story didn't turn out the way it did.
Give feedback. Repeat back what they say but correctly. Expand on what they say.
Up the ante during reading. Ask for names of parts of an object he knows.
Take turns describing pics. Pretend to make mistakes so child corrects you.
6 define intelligence
Children learn best through play
IQ doesn't predict life success
Gifted iq > 120
Gifted motivate themselves
Watch what child interested in and support and build on his motivation to play
Everyday experiences sufficient
Mistakes they make are important for their learning
Game 3-6y: conservation game test for seeing same amounts in different forms
Scaffolding to help child in zone of proximal development
Intelligence different from achievement/knowledge/skill
Reduce number of steps so child can reach goal
Stress effort not achievement
7 developing sense of self
Babies not parents construct it
Don't praise for intelligence
Preschooler overly confident
Recognize self in mirror by 21 months
Game 12-24m: secretly put lipstick on baby nose and have him look in mirror to see if he reacts differently
12-18m start to prefer toys that are gender specific
2-3y know own gender
3-5y know own race
Game 2-7y: try every 6 months with a magazine. Ask to point to pictures of adults and kids of different races and genders and clothes and ask to point to specific ones you name. Ask him why.
Responding to baby discomfort promotes their ability to communicate
Need to first recognize self as separate entity to be evaluated around 2-3y before know right or wrong
Slowly learn to regulate own emotion
Emotional regulation develops through parents talking to kids about their emotions
Game 3-6: use picture book to help kid talk through emotions. Ask why event occurred. Ask how character feels.
Don't praise ability or intelligence. Effort and persistence better.
Pay attention to how u talk about kids in front of them
Treat child as individual and accept if different from u
Let them know anything is possible
Talk with them about feelings
Value emotional intelligence
8 how children develop social intelligence
Social skills need to be learned like academic
Learned best on the job
Better social skills do better at independent learning
Game 1-2.5y: fake sadness and crying and see if child shows empathy
To deal with frustration, show silver lining
2yo not ready to share yet because don't have perspective of other
Game 12-24m: see what month baby considers ur perspective and feeds u food u want (pretend to like one food and dislike another and ask him to feed u a few min later)
Development of theory of mind (others think differently) around 4yo
Game 2-5yo: try false belief test
Young child before theory of mind can't act vengefully or cause annoyance on purpose because can't understand reaction of other
Childish lies before theory of mind develops are not real lies just wishes
Look for opportunities to discuss other people's feelings and what would feel if different things happened
Ask about characters in stories u read. How does he feel? How would u feel if u were he? What can his friends do to help him feel better?
Explain that there are causes for people's feelings
Stop bullying. More socially competent and with more friends less bullied. Intrusive controlling parenting creates vulnerability and more likely to be bullied. Develop a good friendship.
Make space for social time
Build strong ties with teachers and ask daily how doing with other kids.
Don't ignore or belittle feelings.
See world through kids eyes.
Promotes all forms of learning and creativity
Level of play rises when parents join in
Exploratory play (touching)
Functional (moving car)
Symbolic (fantasy make believe with objects as symbols)
Parents shouldn't lead play but can show things to raise level of play
Game 12-42m: watch independent play vs when adult joins in and suggests make believe scenarios. See if child plays on own in abstract way or just exploratory.
Pleasurable and enjoyable
No extrinsic goals
Spontaneous and voluntary
Free play as opposed to organized activities or classes promotes initiative
First babies just explore objects one at a time
Then will use multiple and create relations between them
Later will use in appropriate ways based on each object
And will start using imagination which means they can think symbolically, one object standing in for another. No longer need to use toy only for what it's meant.
Game 6-16m: give 2 toys with hidden functions one by one and see if makes inference from first toy to how to play with second toy
Teaches math understanding
Wide range of toy materials helps
Convergent toys (only one right way to play like puzzles) help academics but divergent toys (no one right way like blocks) help creativity and problem solving
Advanced pretend play helps with divergent problem solving and more advanced language
Pretending with objects then with self then with others. Multiple actions for objects.
Pretend play is dealing with symbols and so is language. Increasing complexity of pretend play linked to increasing complexity of language in words and sentence length. All kids go through same series of development steps.
Will learn to substitute more dissimilar objects and eventually just imagine them
Game 8m-2y: put out objects like dolls, stuffed animals, combs, baby bottles, trucks, sponge, telephone. Record age and what he does with the objects each time and what level of pretend play is exhibited and what level of language he has (single words, combos, sentences). Note what objects used as substitutes and if they resemble the target
After 2.5y start to pretend play with other kids
Play creates zone of proximal development
Helps child separate thought and action and learn self regulation
Talking to themselves they work out their fantasy and how it works
Internalize scripts from culture about how world works and rules of game/world
Game 3-5y: listen to script of child's play
Play helps them work through difficult emotional events
Allows practice of storytelling and separating story from past experience and creation of inner worlds
Up to 1yo doing parallel play / independent of others
13-14m cooperative play but not sharing
Age 2 take on roles
3-4yo do routines
Stories start to take longer and they need to negotiate social situations
Imaginary friends fine
Game: Ask child to tell you story of event that happened somewhere to him and then have him and other kids play act the story
Eventually will learn to follow rules not just make up
Playing alone outside and with friends
Set up pretend play sequence and let child take it from there
“Imagination is” game: sit on bed and cover eyes with blanket and go around saying imagination is and filling in sentence with fantasy or place to travel
10 exceptional learning
Teaching facts out of box removes self initiative and provides learning that isn't transferable to other contexts
The best learning is that within reach
Emphasize process over product
EQ not just IQ
Learn in context and play
Eat dinner together
Dictionary game: each person makes up word and definition and others guess if it's real
Monthly weekend family trip to local site or museum
Monthly weekend cooked dinner
Reflect resist recenter