We have taken the critical first steps by designing and organizing the program. It is not formless or haphazard. We spent years putting together certain common American objectives. We sequenced these in terms of children's developmental needs. Then we took the hardest step of all- translating these educational objectives into educational experiences, the on-page lesson, the pagework we refer to. It is one thing to say a child should learn something, and quite another to design a paper and pencil activity that will cause him to learn it. All you have to do is put it before the child.
By saying we've taken the first steps, we are not minimizing your role as a teacher. You have the child, we have the program. You must bring them together.
- Where: in your kitchen or other non-distracting place away from the T.V.
- When: when the child is most eager- not tired, not hungry, but at a regular, scheduled time.
- How: as thoughtfully as possible.
You may have guessed that number three is critical. You must capitalize upon the child's natural desire to learn, or help that desire grow. Here again, the program helps. The characters motivate. The exercises are as unique and as much fun as we could make them. Let's discuss your role more thoroughly.
- See if your child is ready for this level of book. Try a sample activity or two, preferably a maze or dot-to-dot. If your child is puzzled and cannot proceed, try another activity. If he still can't do it, go back to simple coloring or physical activities, such as stacking pots and pans.
- Plan the learning experience with your child. Which book will we work in today? Do you have your desk ready? Do you remember what you did yesterday?
- Do this at a particular time of the day. How about just before snack time? Can you put the snack in a lunch box, just like sister's? The child at home is in school; this is their school, and you are the teacher. Today I am a teacher, and you are the learner!
- Preview the page yourself before explaining it to your child. Make sure you know it. Make sure all materials are ready. Make sure your child understands the words you use. Read to him the consistent directions that explain what he is to do.
- Motivate! Laugh! Use your happy voice! Put on your brightest face and lead a discussion about the animation. Look at Bumblebear! What is he doing? What will he be doing next? Let your child wonder and speak. Pre-kindergarteners and many first grade children should be guided into a discussion of the picture or activity, developing visual, listening, and speaking skills. The meaning behind spoken words needs to be developed. As children discuss everything about the picture, have them pronounce words and discuss the meaning behind those words. OK, does mouse rhyme with house? Tell your child that rhyme means sound alike, such as mother and brother.
- Can your child share with a friend? It is fun to work together. Perhaps a doll or favorite bear sits with you or at another table.
- Expect errors. We learn more from mistakes than success. Psychologists blandly state, Errors are necessary in new learning. Just because schools and teachers may make red check marks and add them up at the top of the page and then do nothing further to help the child learn doesn't mean we have to! An error is where we happily begin. Don't pounce on it, but explain and correct. Don't even call it an error. Let's do that again.
- See if what your child has completed leads you to new activities. OK, you say. Let's go out and find a leaf like the one you just colored.
- Mark the paper with a reward sticker when the task is complete.
- Go over what your child has done. Have him explain what he has done. This helps your child retain the learning in the activity.
- If your child doesn't feel like working on a particular day, don't force him. In turn, if your child wants to do more than one activity, let him. Don't let him rush through activities, though.
- Develop in your child the habit of putting his work away, and the book back on the bookshelf.
- Older children can often give directions if you are busy, or if you want siblings to work together now and then.
- Games and game cards are different media and help the different neurons to form so that I Know It occurs. Sometimes, pagework can be reinforced (locked in place) with lotto or bingo games that teach from a different perspective or media. It adds a fun game dimension. After every third or fourth day of pagework, it can be game time, which gives your child a recess break. Games are still very effective teaching tools.