To set the record straight, I’m not a proponent of early education. In my view, the best education for a young child is lots and lots of play time, particularly activities employing outdoor fun and imagination. A toddler’s brain thrives when exposed to sweat and laughter and hanging upside down from the monkey bars, but it wilts when left to watch movies, sit in a chair, walk in a single file line to the lunchroom, and only talk when called upon.
However, I have to do something with a 3 year-old child who wants to be right up in the middle of all our school. Of course, she wants to be like her big sisters. While she enjoys driving them crazy, she also longs to be just like them. It’s a little twisted, when you get right down to it.
So, anyway, I got my 3 yod her own school box. It is stocked with a pack of construction paper and some wipe-off books on shapes, numbers, and letters. Everyday she has her “school time.” We say the ABCs, count to 10, and trace shapes. She either colors a picture from a coloring book or draws her own. We have a trunk-load of puzzles, and we pick a new one each week to put together. She also picks a book to read for the week. Dora the Explorer is her favorite. When we’re done with “her” school, she often moves to the end of the table and continues to color for a while longer. Then, she happily runs off to play with whoever else is not doing school, though the house rule is to NOT leave the 3 yod and 2 yod alone together for more than 20 seconds. A demolition team will never demolish what those two can in five minutes or less.
We don’t have as much daily outdoor time as I’d like since we live in an apartment, and yes, we do watch some movies. But we get out as much as we can and limit the movie time.
I’m glad she wants to learn. There are no wrong answers right now. It’s all about fun. If she wants to color the cow purple, why not? I remember getting an F on a paper in first grade because I couldn’t stay within the lines. Really? Was it that important to stamp that memory on my brain for the next 40 years?
Notice, I didn’t say that everything she does is right. Using my rice cooker for her Barbies’ bath tub, for example, is absolutely not right. Buying a Bee Gee song on my Kindle Fire defies description. Deleting my iPhone pictures and taking 30 new ones of her nostrils or one eye make me want to put her in a straight jacket. But she’s 3. And she’s pretty darn cute. So, I take some deep breaths and threaten to ground her for about 10 years.