For example, to teach my son the color green, I used a book, a song & nature. We had recently been reading "City Dog, Country Frog", a book which includes the line, "City dog didn't stop to admire the green, green grass". This line is accompanied by a vivid watercolor illustration showing an expanse of very bright green grass. The next time we went for a walk outside, I took him to a strip of grass & repeated the line, "City dog didn't stop to admire the green, green grass..." His face lit up with recognition! I didn't belabor the point; we smiled & ran our fingers through the grass & went on with our walk. We continued to read the book and touch the grass and talk about things that were green. Then we found a great recording by Jewel of "The Green Grass Grows All Around" & started playing that for him & singing it to him. My husband burned it to a CD for car trips. We even attended a Mo Willems (author of "City Dog, Country Frog") book signing at Barnes & Noble.
Some may call this overkill, but...Ollie has known every color, for a long time now, with 100% accuracy.
I usually use books as a starting point for learning something new, but you have to go beyond that & help kids make connections to real life, or the knowledge from a book won't stick. And this is coming from someone who adores books & writes The Book Blog, so trust me!
To review, here are the keys to teaching a child something new:
- Read about the subject matter.
- Make connections through other modalities or intelligences to the subject.
- Provide repeated exposures over time.
- For young children - NO DRILLING or overly structured lessons. It's unnecessary & detrimental.
- Understand that motivation is central to all learning. If the method is boring, irrelevant & tedious, so will the subject matter be perceived to be boring, irrelevant & tedious, and very little real learning will occur.