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Educating baby - is there pressure?

Published:Monday | February 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

I'm not too bothered whether our son walks for the first time before he turns one year old, or after, because he's already solving algebra and reading Tolstoy! Once he has excellent schooling, what more could he need?

Okay, I'll confess. The little chap is not yet doing mathematics, nor is War and Peace a part of the literature on his bookshelf. However, each minute that anyone talks to him, he is absorbing and learning about the world around him. I know this for certain, because when I put my hand up and say, "high five", he rests his palm on mine. If he wants water while I'm feeding him his solids, he looks at it. When he's had enough food, he shakes his head. Doing these things at nine months old can only make a parent proud.

Use toys to help

When our baby boy plays with his toys, I count, tell him the colours, name the animals and their sounds, and, if he doesn't figure out all the variations of what a toy does, I demonstrate some options to him. For example, the first time I showed him what happens when you push something with wheels, he was fascinated as it rolled away from him. Copying my niece's comment to a teacher when she was three years old, I often tell him that, "Wheels go round and round because they have no edges."

Now, I don't drill these ideas and lessons into him like a sergeant major, but I do repeatedly make them part of the game and conversation. Together with his exploration of what's around him, and his own imagination, he is already getting a grounded education. So where do I go from here? Sure, I continue to do what I'm doing, but at some point he will have to go off to school. We have not ruled out homeschooling, but my husband and I would like to keep the options open. Education is the single most important gift that we'd like to give our son, and clearly the best possible, while we're at it!

Sense of community

A few months ago, I trotted off to visit various pre- and preparatory schools. I'm not convinced that the former is essential before he turns two, provided we continue to give the growing baby (soon to be toddler) the attention and stimulation he will require. This includes socialising him with other children, so that sharing is understood and he gets a sense of community. That being said, I do believe he'd thoroughly enjoy himself, and by default he'd be learning. My eyes are on one place in particular. Watch this space, because I'll probably write about it soon enough!

What does give me palpitations is where will the wee man go to prep school, high school, and university? I've visited three institutions which start at kindergarten and go up to grade six, and all that has done is caused me more confusion! Each one is different from the next in many ways. The bottom line: we are going to have to decide which method of teaching we think is best for our son, as he grows up in an ever-changing world.

Can't he go to them all? That is exactly what we, as parents, would like to avoid. We're not in the business of shopping for schools once he's of age. The decision has to be made before and, unless complete disaster ensues, we must stick to it. No pressure educating baby perhaps, but it'll come soon enough!

POSITIVE Parenting


A reader responds to Emma's article on baby and animals, carried last week.

Hi Emma,

I read your article in The Gleaner online and was so happy to see a positive spin on man's relations with other animals. I appreciate the care you take to protect your child and to try, even at this stage, to teach respect for dogs and possibly other animals as well. I truly wish there were more persons like you. As someone who grew up in a home where our relationships with both pets and strays were respectful, kind and even loving, I can attest to the mutually satisfactory benefits to be derived from such treatment. Don't mind the naysayers, just continue to be lovingly - but not 'paranoidly' - protective of your child in this regard and he can only grow up to be a better person, because you have shared these values with him.



Emma responds

Hi there,

Thank you for your email, and kind compliments.

It is terrible that people treat animals badly, and it is unfortunate that they are feared and disliked by so many. I am considered the strange one for showing affection so freely to animals! I am so happy to hear that you feel the same way that I do.

Take care,