Preschool Learning: The ABCs of Not Caring
Let's face it, parents: We're annoying. Throughout the day, we barrage our kids with a million pointless questions. "What color is that balloon?" "How many feet does Granny have?" "Is that mushroom edible?" Everything's a quiz. We don't finish reading sentences in their favorite books because we want to find out if they know the last word. We don't tell them who it is we're talking to on the phone, we give them clues ("He lives in Florida and loves pastrami ...").
So in our house, we have a rule: no quizzing. Yes, this has meant accepting that our son is more in charge of what he does and does not learn. But you know what? He learned his letters
by 20 months anyway, without any flashcards or "educational" videos
, and without ever being quizzed on it by us. We didn't have to ask him to pick out the H on the Cheerios box, because it turned out he wanted to do it on his own. In fact, he would spot letters everywhere—he'd look up and see Qs and Fs in the clouds. It was cool. (Never mind that on some of those days there wasn't a cloud in the sky.)
Of course, now that he's 3, his attention has turned elsewhere—to building fishing boats out of sofa cushions and sailing into thunderstorms, mostly. He doesn't have much use for the alphabet these days, and so it seems to have slipped his mind. Now he looks up at the clouds and sees giant cloves of garlic.
But that's part of the deal: Without our quizzing, he's going to forget things. And we don't care. The goal is to establish something more important: a love of learning
. The reward for him? Knowing things.
I suspect that one day, when it's useful to him, he'll get his alphabet back. Until then, we'll be cleaning up shipwrecks in the living room. I've gotta say, whoever thought it was a good idea to make this guy a fishing boat captain must've been out of his mind!