Friday, August 13, 2010

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, by Hirsh-Pasek, Golenkoff and Eyer

My cousin told me about this book and I'm really glad I read it.  Although I wish I had read it 7 years ago!

It's written by 3 moms/child psychologists and explains exactly why our children need to play and not be rushed from one class to another, or be forced to watch some 'brain enriching baby video'.  It's a great read for learning about child development in the first 5 years of life.

As usual, there was quite a bit I disagreed with, and worry that some parents who read it and take it at face value would be overwhelmed at times.  But the point of the book is that parents simply need to read and talk with their children daily, for them to gain the foundational skills they need for further education in their school years.

I'm amazed at how often this concept comes up.  And how many professionals in America and other countries, feel this to be true.  And yet, it's not to be found in most parenting magazines or at many schools.

The book is full of antidotes.  Both of the writer's experiences, as well as studies done by scientists/psychologists in trying to analyze and understand children of all ages better. 

They cover how children learn numbers (math), letters (reading), language and self esteem.

Some quotes:

"Play is vital to the development of children's mathematical thinking.  Unlike some forms of knowledge, mathematical knowledge, which deals with relationships between and among things, cannot be learned by hearing adults talk about it.  Experimental research on play shows a strong relationship between play, the growth of mathematical understanding, and improved mathematical performance...  Without play...children's powers of mathematical reasoning would be seriously underdeveloped"  A quote by Professor Ranald Jarrell, an expert at the University of Arizona.

"Is this the kind of knowledge that can be obtained from flash cards, or even from computer games that ask children to do comparisons between sets and simple counting and addition?  No.  What is needed are the gritty, day-to-day experiences of exploring, manipulating, sorting, dividing, and recombining that children have as they play with objects." 

"Children who are used to having all their time structured for them lose the resources necessary to amuse themselves.  Amusing oneself is healthy.  Living in your head a little and figuring out things you can do without classes, playdates or television is not a bad thing.  Children need to develop the ability to stimulate themselves.  This, too, is part of play, and some of our children seem to have forgotten how it's done!"

Like I learned in "The Knowledge Deficit", The Read-Aloud Handbook, and "The Power of Reading", the 100% more important thing we can give our children is our love and attention.  Reading to them daily, interacting with the text, asking questions, getting progressively more complicated books, playing with them and talking to them as if they are intelligent people, is what our children need. And that is just the thing we can give them!  They will learn math and language and reading and writing and spelling and social behaviors.  Simply by watching us.

So rather then going out and finding the perfect curriculum, maybe we need to take a good look at ourselves and our attitude toward life and our children, and make sure that our shadows will turn out the way we want them to.  And then, after we have our own lives in order, and we are able to look at our children's strengths and weaknesses, then we can find just the right book, or curriculum, or class, to help them shore up their weaknesses and strengthen and hone their God-given strengths. 

Check out my cousin's blog post on this book-it's full of great quotes and info.  

One more tool in my tool belt.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't finished my blog on this but it's in the work. I was kind of frustrated with so much science and not enough applying it. But it wa good to see what kids are cabable of at different stages or at least what to watch for. Definately a book that needs to be sifted through and alligned with scipture. I did love learning that play is learning, learning=play, it also encouraged me to play more with Maddie, but letting her take the reins of play/learning. Watching how she plays, what she plays with and then building off of that for her! So exciting isn't it!