By Nkem Iloeje-Agu


A mum of a three-year-old explained to me that she needed to keep her son occupied by arranging for him to have holiday and extra lessons at home, after school, because, “without the lessons, he only plays at home”, and she couldn’t afford for him to forget all he learnt during school, as had happened several times in the past.

These practices, although very common in our country, is strongly discouraged.

But, let’s first get one thing clear. Once your child attends school in an institution that understands and implements early years policies and practices, he would learn and always recall. Forgetting is a direct result of cramming, instead of learning.

Secondly, it is quite healthy and expected that your child, at three, should spend most of his time at play. And that’s exactly what should be actively encouraged. Play is not a waste of time, as long as the key person or caregiver consciously provides direction for that play.

Sitting a child through the formality of rigorous, concentrated lesson in counting, addition and subtraction is not recommended practice, and may, in fact, be damaging.

A simple example of how to achieve true, never-to-be-forgotten learning, especially at home, is to deliver that lesson as informally as possible.

At home, a mum can, for instance, teach these simple mathematical principles by inculcating them into the usual activities at home. Casually and cheerfully, mum can say, “Chidi, we need three oranges. One for you, one for me and one for Nneoma. Here, I have one, how many more do we need?” Both will agree that two is needed. Then, she goes on: “So, go count out two oranges from the fridge.” He brings it. And she say, “can you count them all, together for me…?”

With these kinds of activities going on in the house, throughout the holiday or after-school period, Chidi will learn effortlessly and happily, and is very unlikely to forget what he has learnt.

So, let’s keep our little ones occupied with age-appropriate activities, which are fun, and yet academically supportive.

A sensory bin is another great way of keeping the child constantly learning in the home. See more on sensory bin.



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