To Teach or Not to Teach

Cesar playing with shapes

When it comes down to learning and education, there are a lot of different views on what is appropriate and what is not. Children are being taught too many things too early, Children need more play and unstructured time. Children need to be taught earlier, they need more structure.

As a reaction to our overzealous educational system, many parents believe it’s better to ‘let their child be’, ‘not bother with learning to read or math’ and ‘just letting children play’. Where learning, such as reading and math are seen as arduous concepts which we should not depress our children with ‘just yet’. In an attempt to let go of the old and introduce the new – we may leave behind the old structures, but our perceptions are still with us, and taint the ‘new’.

Whenever I introduce something to Cesar which I believe or perceive to be under the banner of ‘educational’ or ‘teaching’ – he is not interested and I am met with great resistance. Say I want to show him a word (that I perceive as being a ‘difficult one’), he will quickly be distracted and want to move away. So I took a step back and asked myself what it is that I am doing different in this situation, than in other situations – where his learning or absorption ability runs smoothly and can integrate new information easily. When I introduce him to someone new and say their name – he gets it. This person, this face = that name. When I show him or introduce him, I just ‘say it as it is’.

I don’t go ‘hmm, this person has quite complex facial features and kind of also looks like that person and their name is quite unusual I wonder if he will ‘get it’’.

Whenever we perceive something as hard and difficult to comprehend, and then try and have someone else take in this information – we create our very experience, as we act out this expectation unconsciously through our choice of words, voice tonality and body language.

In showing him a ‘difficult word’ for example – my sounds would become louder, longer, repeating myself often, and have a sort of ‘belittling’ look on my face.

Cesar loves words, shapes and counting. Not because they are ‘educational’ – but because words, shapes and numbers are everywhere around us. Just like balls, dogs, people, toys,…

Recognizing and reading letters or words – is just as easy as recognizing a person and being able to say their name. It’s when we make a ‘thing’ out of it, make it more or less than what it is – a point of separation is created and we’ll be in conflict with the object, being or concept in our world.

I had to challenge myself (and still do) to drop all expectations of what is hard, easy, educational, fun, relaxing – as for Cesar – there’s no distinction. There’s just things around him, and stuff to do – whether it’s reading, playing with a toy or cleaning – it doesn’t have to change him or who he is.

The School of Ultimate Living is a great platform to explore your relationships to words, to see them for what you have made them to be, to deconstruct and redefine your relationship to words so that they form the building blocks of your life, your potential – and live the best version of yourself that you can be.

Tuning in to your Child’s Interests

toddler words chalk reading parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar’s appetite for learning words comes and goes. The last few days he’s been really into acquiring new words wanting to go through one book after the other. Here, we had gone through all the books we had – but Cesar wanted ‘MORE!’. So we took some chalk and started writing words, and point to the objects, animals or people the word referred to in the room. This kept is busy for more than an hour. Whenever we tune in to Cesar’s interests, which depend on his development and movement of his natural learning ability, it’s easy to keep ourselves moving and doing. He really appreciates it, when you take that moment to tune into his interest and see what MORE you can do with him or show him, to make the best and most of it. The look in his eyes that moment he grasps what you are showing him, the moment he sees the possibilities open up, the implications! Oh man, it’s PRICELESS!!!

#NLA #naturallearningability #words #interest #enthusiasm #wonder #gaze #passion #parenting #absorb #amazement


Learning From Pictures vs Learning from Reality

toddler reading book spot leilazamoramoreno

We were going through one of Cesar’s books, pointing and identifying all the things he can recognise in the drawings. When we got to this page, Cesar was pointing at the dog’s back, and with his facial expressions ask what this ‘thing on his back is about’.
I explained to him that it’s a backpack and dug through our cupboards to find us a backpack each. Whenever we teach or show him new words, we aim to provide a physical reference of what something is (and if we can, a few different ones – showing that say a backpack not only takes ‘one form’ but exists as a variety). This is because we want to teach him what something ‘is’ rather than ‘what it looks like’. Learning through pictures would be like saying that ‘your Facebook profile picture’, is ‘who you are’ — while we all know that there is much more to any person than what their appearance is like. Teaching through pictures creates the assumption that you know and understand something simply because you have a visual reference. In the long run we start to trust our imagination as being real and valid (being made up of pictures) while physical reality can have a whole different story to tell. Just as we can’t fathom to know a person by a picture, so it is with all things in our reality. When we work with books, we always specify we are looking at a drawing or picture of something and not ‘the real deal’.

#words #learning #vocabulary #reality #pictures #education #parenting

Is anything ever really Gone?

chalk drawing toddler leilazamoramoreno

Here Cesar is wiping some chalk drawings away of circles, squares and crescent moons. While he is wiping he goes ‘wipe, wipe, wipe’ – and once it’s all wiped out, he goes ‘Gone!!!’
What was funny in this moment is that the chalk wasn’t really gone. And I noticed how when we play hide and seek with objects or when things are ‘out of sight’ that I have been telling them that they are ‘gone’. I realised I had been teaching him that when you can no longer see things that they are ‘gone’ – while in fact, they always remain present. He can wipe away the chalk drawing, but the chalk remains – it’s now just spread all over the tile and on his wipe. So I started explaining how things are not really gone just because we don’t see them anymore. I showed him how the chalk was still here but changed form. That when we throw things away and can’t see them anymore, that they are still existent and present, we just don’t see them anymore at that very moment.
I remember when I was small and accidentally set a paper tissue on fire, that I threw it in the garbage bin assuming that it now would be ‘gone’ and no longer ‘exist’. As if the bin was some sort of black hole that would send any object into non-existence. Luckily my mom noticed me rushing to the bin and walking away relieved, seeing that something was up and killed the flame before it set the whole bin on fire lol. It’s interesting to see how the use of such as small word incorrectly, creates all kinds of misconceptions.

#words #vocabulary #namethegame #meaning #buildingblocks #parenting #education

We’re Playing the COOKING GAME!

toddler cooking game leilazamoramoreno

Now that Cesar is a bit older his attention span is growing where he can focus and direct himself to do a specific task for a longer time before getting distracted and doing ‘what he wants’.
While we are cooking, doing dishes, cleaning – general points of every day maintenance which many would call a ‘chore’, I instead decided to direct the points as being GAMES.

A game will always have a particular end goal, plays out in a particular framework with particular rules which need to be followed for the game to work and to reach our end goal.
When I instantaneously came up with the idea and started applying it, showing to Cesar how it works – I realized I was in essence transferring my understanding and definition of a word.
What does ‘doing dishes’ mean? How do you practically carry out ‘doing dishes’? When he goes off course (say he starts putting sliced food in the organic waste bin instead of the cooking pot), I can show him that he is not playing the game anymore and how his action is now not in line with the game, how it impacts and compromises the end result we are aiming for within the game – and so is in essence deviating from the definition of the word (eg. cooking).
He has been very receptive to this approach and does not ‘react’ or ‘take it personal’ that he cannot just follow his impulses but needs to stick to the framework provided. When he keeps deviating it is usually that we have been doing the activity for quite some time and his attention span has been stretched out. Then we stop with our activity and do something he wants to do for a while and pick up on our game at a later time.

Instead of teaching him an emotional interpretation of the word as a ‘burden’ or ‘chore’ where you immediately feel yourself going into a ‘low’, showing him and teaching him the word for what it is and how you practically carry it out (and finding ways on how to improve!) has been much fun for both him and myself. He enjoys participating because whether we are doing dishes, cooking, cleaning, dancing, throwing balls for dogs, going for a walk – he doesn’t differentiate between ‘work’ and ‘play’ – as all these actions are the same in that they are all physical activities, but they differ in the type of physical activity that is required of him. He is the one dragging the broom out of the laundry room, he is the one running to the sink BEGGING to do dishes, he is the one populating our room with cloths to wipe everything clean. And when we are doing an activity and it’s the adults deviating from the game – then he will point it out and demand we do it properly. Sometimes he will be throwing a tantrum and be really upset and I will ‘not know why’ – until he points out what I missed, I correct myself and he settles down.

Other times we will be busy with a particular activity and he will be reactive, frustrated and uncooperative – and I myself will be reactive and frustrated to his behaviour. Then I start explaining to him the Game we are playing, and as I am explaining it, I realise that I hadn’t even properly defined and clarified the game for myself – which he was picking up on. Because I wasn’t clear on the game we were playing, the parameters and the rules – this left a void inside of myself which was impulsing a sense of directionlessness, which Cesar reacted to by: being directionless in his behaviour.

As I explain the game to him (and myself) and align the definition for myself, I reach a point of stability, grounding and direction, which instantaneously spills over to Cesar who immediately aligns himself.

Words, really DO create our Worlds!


What you See is not always What you Get

toddler dog read leilazamoramorenoCesar keeps surprising me in these moments. Here he picked up a card with Boeboe’s name and went to search out Boeboe to show him the card.

We have lots of flashcards lying around with different words and names of people and animals. He goes through phases where he has lots of interest in words to then not being so interested in it. Even though he is in a period of not showing any external interest, a lot happens and gets processed in the background – where we think or assume that ‘nothing is happening’ and that -‘no progress is being made’ because he is not showing anything externally. But each time around when he suddenly gets into words again, we can see how much he has grown in his level of understanding and how many more words he has integrated for himself. Too many times we think we know what is going on or where our children are at simply through our observation and that what we see is all there is to it.

#toddler #baby #reading #words #development #whatyouseeiswhatyouget #observation #assumptions #desteni #eqafe

Words create our World

baby toddler reading

Here Gian and Cesar are going over some of the words we’ve put around the house for Cesar’s enjoyment. We started teaching – well not so much teaching as just showing – Cesar how to read less than 2 months ago. He can read most of the words he can speak, and some words he knows and can read but is still working on how to speak them. The learning process has been very easy. This is quite contrary to most people’s experience, as we only get taught how to reach much later and in a way that goes against our own natural learning ability. With Cesar, we showed him many words repeatedly, speaking them, acting them out, showing them in the physical world and showing picture representations. Initially, all he picks up on and registers is the general shape or symbol of the word. Once he got past a certain amount of words that he can recognize wholly, he naturally started to be able to analyze and recognize patterns in the words such as individual letters – and started reading words he had not seen before, but was able to read and speak them because he now had created a nice reference framework for himself from all the words he had learned as a whole.

In school we do the opposite, where we are first taught the alphabet and individual letters and then paste these together to form/read a word. This makes it much harder to learn/read words and causes us to read slowly, having to take in each individual letter. When we imprint whole words, we can read words and sentences much faster, allowing us to process information much more efficiently.

 #toddler #baby #reading #learning #naturallearningability #NLA #parenting #motherhood #parenthood #fatherhood #positiveparenting #everyoneisbornagenius #innateintelligence #words #yourbabycanread #babydevelopment