Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When to Teach What?

There are several authors like Fernando Corominas in Spain, that claim that when we are children, there are different ages when we will absorb different skills easier than others; these are called "sensitive periods" for learning.

For example: It is much easier for a 1 to 4 year old toddler to learn a new language, than for a 30 year old adult. It does not mean the older person cannot do it, it means that it is much easier for a 1 to 4 year old to do it because his or her brain is specially "wired" at that age to learn languages. This is great news because if we know when they can absorb each type of information the best, we can then proceed to teach our children different virtues and abilities at different ages when they are most likely to learn them naturally and easily!

From 0 to 4 years old: The focus should be in teaching order, obedience and truthfulness - Imagine how much time and effort we can save teaching these virtues at this age, rather than later in life! Also, this age is great for teaching balance and introducing our kids to languages and music. We have seen it with our kids: we have been able to teach them to ride their bikes without training wheels (balance!) in half the time when they are four years old, than when they are older - its really noticeable.

From 5 to 7 years old: playing skills, following rules, team work. It is fun to see how well they can understand the rules and make everybody else follow them.

From 7 to 11 years old: fortitude, charity, perseverance, laboriousness, patience, responsibility, justice, generosity. They love to talk, they want to participate. They are in elementary school, they have homework to do, they are eager to do it and we listen to the famous "it's not fair...".

From 13 to 15 years old: temperance, faith, intimacy, sobriety, friendship, respect. They will choose who are going to be their friend to go through adolescence together, so watch out, guide them, and try to have a very friendly house, were your children's friends can stay close and SUPERVISED BY YOU. This is no good time to delegate this on others.

From 16 to 18 years old: prudence, hope, comprehension, loyalty, humility, optimism. They start to use their freedom, they begin to drive cars, so it is the right moment to teach them what it means, to tell them that we have built a trust with them so they shouldn't let us or God down. They will listen.

Children have, in their nature, the inclination to be good. They really want their parents to be proud of them, so they try to be good.

When we had our first daughter it was very easy to put in practice these ideas, but now that we have five children, of different ages, it is very hard to keep track of it all. We try to focus on the very important things and give them very small amounts of information at a time. The good thing is that the older ones help a lot. Having the older brothers and sisters setting the good example for the younger ones is one hundred times more effective than having hours upon hours of talks. So now we are harvesting what we planted. And supervising.

It is not easy at all. Don't think that because I write this, my family is always perfect. I write this, because more often that not, we are in a complete chaos, but we have tried different tools to reorganize ourselves and get back on track and I try to transmit to you through this blog what has and has not worked.

Have fun enjoying every stage in your children's lives!


Barb said...

This was a very nice submission into the Festival of Family Flair! I didn't know balance was taught easier at 4 than at 6, but had a hard time teaching my 5 year old how to ride a bike (it took two summers). What was really disconcerting was watching all the little 4 year olds riding around him in circles. :( I'm starting my daughter as soon as the weather clears up, and my toddler will get a little two-wheeler by the time he's 3! :D

Anonymous said...

Barb -
Why are you so in a rush to for your son (or daughter) to be on a two wheeler? I found it disconcerting that you were comparing "your own child" to the others "riding around him in circles". I can't imagine how that made him feel??!! You must have not read many of the blogs "A Guide on Raising Great Kids" because I never read that the Author would ever let her children feel the way you must have made your child feel, because he was not at the same level "as the other children".

Awesome Mom said...

Please, give Barb a break. What parent has not seen other kids doing something that their own kids are not doing yet and think that their own kids should be able to do that too? It is hard to not do it but it is also human nature. How do you even know that she made her son feel bad for not being able to ride a bike? Neither of us was there so making that judgment is rather presumptuous. I wished that my first son could do a lot of the "normal" things that other kids his age were doing but I never ever made him feel bad that he could not.