Tag Archive | babies and toddlers

You can tell who’s been talking…

Babies must wonder what all this Christmas palaver is about. They stare at all the going’s on in amazement, too young to understand what we’re up to, however much we talk to them. Our behaviour and our hype must seem bizarre,even if entertaining. But I’m sure they absorb the excitement if not the explanations.

Babies – their wonderful world on BBC2

And we should be explaining – well – talking to them, however young and however they look back at us in bewilderment. For talking with them is essential for their development whatever age they are and whatever we’re chatting about.

There have been some great programmes on the BBC recently about babies’ development which I’ve been absorbed in. It talks about how the interactions babies have impacts on their development later on. And engaging through talk and attention was one part of their growth which was discussed; how those babies and toddlers who’ve been talked to, and with, have a greater vocabulary and dexterity with language at a later date. Even more importantly; they are the ones who achieve better educationally. So even if you think your baby isn’t responding you need to keep chatting away to them about what you’re doing and the things you see as you take them out and about.

I cringe when I see babies – any kids actually – being ignored as if they were an uncommunicative blob, or being pushed along in their pushchairs, backs to their parent, whilst said parent is engaged with their mobile. I know there’s a case for this on occasion – maybe. But I suspect it happens too often. It may be a boring talking to a baby, but it is a responsibility that comes with the parent package.

In fact it’s just as important to talk with any toddler – any youngster – and that parents continue to do so. To explain, answer questions, observe, whatever, for it all impacts on the development of their brain.

I have heard that some teachers are dealing with children starting school who are so unused to being talked to, and to whom the concept of conversation is so alien, they hardly talk at all. Their spoken vocabulary is so inhibited that staff have to spend the first part of the term focussing on that, let alone anything else like reading and writing. A shocking sign of someone neglecting their parental duty to engage with their kids. Teachers can always tell which kids have been talked to!

What some parents perhaps don’t realise is that talking to the little ones whatever age they are doesn’t just impact at the time, but equally importantly affects their development later in life too. The fact that they need talking to carries on throughout their childhood. And it’s not only important for language development or academic achievement. Conversing also creates the foundations of relationships and social skills essential for our health and happiness.

So whatever is going on in your house this Christmas, make sure you chat about it with the littlies. Of course if you’re home educating you get to chat to them all the time – no wonder homeschooled kids turn out to be so well developed! And if you’ve got a baby in the mix make sure you include them in it too. You are contributing to their education even at that early age.

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De-institutionalising mumhood!

Untitled-12 changedI can bore myself silly doing all this writing about education. I imagine I bore others too quite often!

It’s just I’m so passionate about it; passionate about raising children which is really what education is all about, although you wouldn’t think that from schooling.

Schooling schools children into institutionalised ways. Education should be so mind evolving it de-institutionalises youngsters so they can think in intelligent, questioning, entrepreneurial and diverse ways which develop their mind and their person.

It was my passion for children that drove me to do a mums’ book (see the page) and I just wanted to remind any new mums visiting here that it’s there for support. It’s a book to remind mums that they don’t have to do mumhood in an institutionalised way, just like we don’t have to do education in an institutionalised way.

You wouldn’t think that mumhood is institutionalised – you do it by yourself don’t you?

Not necessarily, it can be as constricted as schooling, conventionalised by traditions, ‘professionals’, perfectionist images, what everyone else is doing and whatever’s trending on social media. All extremely powerful influences that can control what you do, if you’re not careful.

We can be so conditioned to fit into the way we’ve been schooled to be mums that we don’t even notice it’s happening sometimes. We just get gut feelings that this doesn’t feel right, yet think we can’t be right so ignore ourselves, until we start to feel a bit wretched that we can’t seem to meet others’ expectations, our parents’ expectations, social trends or those on forums.

To counteract this we need to listen to our own intuition even if in perspective of advice, remember we are individuals who need to operate to our own circumstances – different from everyone else’s – in consideration of our own characters and those of our children. No two instances of mums and kids will be the same.

We need to make independent and considered choices and be the parents we need and want to be. And I hate to mention it again, but that’s where education comes in.

Our own education develops as we learn to become parents.

But, even more importantly, our children’s education BEGINS TOO. (I explain that further in the last piece in ‘Mumhood’)

That’s why being a mum is one of the most important things you will ever do. You are laying the first foundations and future groundwork of your child’s education. The first few years of being involved with your children is where education starts.

And that’s why mums are so valuable and it’s so important they are happy, doing their mothering the way they need to, however diverse and unschooled it may appear to others.

Some of the educational approaches home educators use may appear diverse and unschooled and unconventional. Yet these approaches develop young people who go on to lead intelligent, responsible, productive, social, independent lives. So those approaches work.

It doesn’t matter if you want to do your mothering your own way, it’ll work too. What’s important is to develop healthy happy children. And it is healthy happy mums who are more likely to do that.

You might like to read the book to find out why!