Imagine that you are invited to a good spread of feast. You are served mouth-watering starters, soup, a variety of items for the main course, side dishes, gravy, salads, sweet-puddings and a good choice of desserts. Hmm… I invite you to further imagine that you eat just enough and relish every mouthful… What a chortled satisfaction you would get! ( Sigh!)
How about giving a similar experience to your child? We are not discussing the Party’s Menu here, of course. Let’s feed in the vital, basic knowledge of as many topics as possible to the little one in five different packages — all gift-wrapped, for sure. The “five” magical routes are nothing else but the five functions of the sense organs of your little child: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting and Touching.
Your child is already taking one or more of these faculties — every moment that he is awake — to satiate his ever-growing appetite for knowledge – touching and grabbing the things within reach and putting them hastily into his tiny mouth, listening to the jingles on the TV and turning his head towards it. Let us travel along with him in all his ‘normal’ explorations – supplementing his journey with some wonderful inputs of information. YOU can plan the journey : The flash cards that we discuss elaborately are fully based on the ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’. The picture cards too, engage these two functions basically. It is up to us to engage the remaining three functions – ‘touching’, ‘tasting’ and ‘smelling’. And make these fertile years of the little one the reservoir for his prosperous future .
The auspicious moments to make this journey are numerous. The time when –
you give a bath to your child
you feed him his frequent meals
you put him to sleep
you take a drive for more than 5 minutes
you console him after a spell of weeping.
or even any other moment that you think would suit best.
The bottom line is two fold: Trust and Love. And the result: immense joy on your part and the utter thrill on the child’s side.
The key is simple. let us explore the 5 sensational routes now:
SEEING & HEARING
You already have the basic training tools for these two functions: the Flash cards. Trace the very recent experiences of your child: The pleasant ones as well as the tear shells. The recent visit to a theme park could be an example (or even the usual visit to the park of your neighborhood — as would suit your child). Make cards with these words: Round-about, Slide, Swing, See-Saw, Merry-go-round, etc… Choose the happy moments to flash these cards. Your child will be in raptures and virtually grab the hand written words from the sheet of paper and stamp them in his memory, blissfully!
With your child by your side, everything that you see is an experience in itself. You cease to be a mute spectator or a silent witness any more. You rather ‘watch, observe and assimilate’ the happening. To quote a few –
The rain, rainbow, clouds of strange shapes, the sun emerging from behind the clouds…
The bird that visits your balcony regularly.
The whirlpool that you could make in the water-filled bucket before your child’s bath.
The numerous stories of a tall building.
With the age of your child, the list varies, too. It is your very own choice .
Considering the function of HEARING exclusively, you have plenty of scope. It is up to you to train the ears of your young one. Starting very early, you could initiate him to listening to classical music of all kinds – vocal or instrumental. Every time that you play the music, you may call out the artist’s name and the note that is being played. With such regular practice, the child’s hearing is fine-tuned to the distinct decibels of a variety of musical presentations. Your child is already an expert in this field, you may be saying now: he judges the moments of the day and reacts accordingly purely going by the changes in the noises he hears and keeping the guessing a success every time.
You cannot improve your child’s vocabulary in a better way rather than making him feel what it means. The adjectives and opposites (hot-cold, warm-chill, rough-smooth, hard-soft, damp-dry), adverbs (gently, gradually), concepts ( staking, arranging in a line), ideas (‘castle’ on the beach, ‘car’ with his building blocks) – the avenues before you are endless. And the exclusive thing about this is that your child learns it all involuntarily and as pure fun.
Aren’t you very particular about being the BOSS of this function? Of course, you are! Though the little one may be the most eager one to make explorations exclusively through this function, you will be caught chiding him for his indulgence! Let us make it positive: When it comes to food in particular, it is wiser to introduce the taste and not force it just because you feel that it would do him good . Well, chances are that he will certainly object, refuse and go on strike. Still, prefer to offer and not force it upon him or worse , cheat him with faked promises . For two reasons:
He will not want to trust you anymore.
You misuse one lovely route for imparting knowledge.
Instead, play a game to fill his tummy: On the first day choose the VEHICLES, for example. Take a spoonful of his meal and tell your child that it is an airplane driven by a pilot , flying right into the Hangar (the open mouth). The next spoonful is a pair of bulls on the plough driven by the farmer (you may show a picture of this) that rushes right into the fields (the wide open mouth, of course). And more vehicles to follow. The next day choose a set of wild animals (keep the domestic animals for the next meal!) Each spoonful ‘becomes’ the animal, leaping , jumping , running , trotting , even while roaring , neighing , trumpeting ( You bring in the corresponding word and make a demo of it , without fail ). The animals reach the jungle (your child’s open-mouth) and live there happily!
With an older child, you may speak about the journey of the food (Farm-storage/granary-transportation- retailing-your own shopping car-kitchen-stove-plate). The next session could be the journey of the food from the spoon to mouth to food pipe… up to excretion.
This is almost always the primary function as is the ‘touching’ – even in the case of a new-born. The fragrances of a variety of things that come in your child’s life every day are wonderful tools of teaching and help enhance his vocabulary:
His other favorite food items
His toiletry items – shampoo, talcum powder…
The scent of different flowers, fruits…
Every time he experiences the smell, you may call out delightedly, or even a step further and write down the word on the flash card and flash them a couple of times as that would suffice his grasping power to put the word in store – just because he has experienced the word.
Simply put, all the five functions of the sense organs are, in most cases, intertwined and work as a team. It is absolutely necessary and mandatory, of course: The child is the King in his own territory of learning: we remain his humble and loving companions, nothing more.
Rest assured you are sowing in your child two imperishable seeds: The love for learning, the habit of finding joy in everything that your child does.
Have you been flashing the word cards and picture cards regularly? If your child has been enjoying these sessions, within a few months his eyes must have got used to ‘photographing’ the word that is flashed instantly. This could be keeping you really busy; making more and more new flash cards to keep up with the amazing speed of your child’s grasping power. Of course you must also be busy enjoying the delightful discovery: Your child has started to read.
Let’s take the next step forward. This time around, you will not stop with just the ‘words’. Instead, transfer the experience into sentences. For this, you will be making one card each for the words in the sentence. But as you keep progressing (we have been discussing this even much earlier). You will not need to make cards for all the words. For, your child will know for himself the words that are commonly used since you had flashed them already. Some such words are: the, to, and, on, in, I, you, my, your, big…
To begin with, make the sentences brief and catchy:
I love yummy pista ice creams. (Choose the flavor that your child loves)
Daddy takes us to the beach. Hooray!
Salty potato chips taste great.
I enjoy swinging in the park.
Sleepy crocodiles live in swampy rivers.
And later, you can make longer, but simple and attractive sentences:
Tasty French fries make a lovely snack.
Mummy, Daddy and I have fun on Sundays.
I walk merrily with Grandpa in the garden.
Halwa and Peda are my favorite sweets.
Playful Tommy wags his tail very fast.
You may choose the sentence that would go with your child’s taste and attitude. Or you may make some on your own.
And now, for the making of the flash cards. This is a familiar exercise for you. Make one card each for the sentence. So, for the sentence”I love yummy pista ice creams”, you will be making five flash cards – I, love, yummy, pista and ice cream. Later when you make cards for a sentence that could have one or more of the same words ,you need not make the cards once again. Hence, as you gradually introduce more sentences, you will need to prepare fewer cards than the number of words that make the new sentences. Your job would become easier, but you do not lose anything at all: convenient, simple yet effective.
So, what about the flashing, this time? To begin with, introduce one sentence. Take the set of cards for the sentence and flash them at random, not in the logical and grammatical sequence . And for every session, shuffle the cards and change the order of flashing. You need to flash this way for two reasons:
The child should not end up just memorizing the words passively as he would guess the uniform sequence of flashing.
His growing urge to read the random card is nurtured.
Remember the Golden Rule – The flashing sessions need to be absolutely joyful, brief and stopped before the child wants to. To your delight and surprise, within three or four sessions of flashing, your child will easily read all the cards.
You have a new job now: Make a ‘Handmade Book’ with the sentence that you flashed. Take the ‘Landscape’ position of the broad board / chart paper, cut to A4 size and write the words in printed form, each of 3″ height. At first, write one word per page. As your child gets used to the Handmade books, you may write more than one word per page. It is advisable to laminate these pages and tie them up in proper order in the form of a book. This Handmade book is very special. They are likely to be handled in all happy ways possible by your kid.
Now give it to him and watch him read the book. It becomes a prized possession for him as he would want to read it dozens of times.
You may proceed with this way of introducing sentences further:
Instead of one set of cards (that make one Handmade book), you may gradually introduce one more and later two more sets of cards, enabling your child to read more Handmade books,pretty soon. In any case, limit the number of new cards to fifteen for the flashing session. Of course, you can retire the known cards and introduce the new ones.
Later,instead of continuing to make newer sentences, you can paste a photo of your child that would thrill him on the left side blank page and make a sentence that briefly describes the picture on the right side, which would be the reading area. What excitement this evokes in the little one! You need to see it to believe it.
You can also choose a small story book that has large fonts. Make cards for the words as yet unknown to your child. After the flashing sessions are complete, give him the book. His eyes would go wide with joy and thrill. And he starts READING THE BOOK ALL BY HIMSELF.
Your mission has been successful. You have bequeathed a great asset to your child. And definitely formed him into a responsible adult of the future.
You deserve a Royal Salute.