My name is Mehwish Siddiqui and I am a teacher in Vancouver, B.C. I have a little girl who is three years old. I have an instagram blog (https://www.instagram.com/theyounglearner/) dedicated to my daughter’s learning experience through play. I use educational items as well as everyday items to create activities for my little one. As a teacher, I have often seen students lack confidence in using basic tools such as glue, scissors, holding a pencil and much more. I believe, we need to develop their fine motor and hand eye coordination skills from the beginning. I thoroughly believe that young children need to exposed to lots of learning opportunities in their early years. This helps build their confidence and encourages the love of learning.
HERE IS MY STORY
Flashback to the beginning of 2017 – I am rushing through my day with my two year old literally hanging off my leg, asking for the i-Pad for the fourth time. No! I think enough is enough. I always thought I would be a parent who would limit screen time for obvious reasons such as bad eyesight and lack of creativity. BUT…unfortunately I had been sucked into using technology as a way of getting some much needed ME time (I was taking care of my two year toddler on my own all day). So, I give in and put on that awful song “daddy finger, mommy finger where are you?” You all know how that song goes, sometimes I could hear it when it was not even playing!
HOW IT ALL STARTED
“Play is the beginning of knowledge” –George Dorsey
One day, I put some acorns that I had found outside on the table and I noticed my toddler was just moving them back and forth. Then, she stacked them on top of each other. Next, she lined them up. I continued to observe and was so happy that she was creating the “play” for herself! Self-play is best play! (That was my light bulb moment- I quickly grabbed some pebbles and placed the acorns in a bin and let her discover play) Funny enough, I later found out that what I created for her was called sensory play.☺
#THEYOUNGLEARNER ON INSTAGRAM
From then onwards, I decided to start activity time with my daughter everyday in which we would try learning different skills or use various tools and simply have FUN! I would take pictures of her playing and make videos for memories. I had posted some videos on my personal instagram account and #kashmirifoodie and a few other friends encouraged me to start an activity blog. That is how the young learner started. We try to do at least one new activity a day .In my activity post, I usually write instructions and materials for the activity.
Here is one activity I put up recently on the young learner. My daughter is learning to recognize letters, so I named letters and she stamped it on the play-dough. I love when one activity can teach more than just one skill. For example, this activity taught her
2) stamping with play-dough
3) peeling the play-dough off (now that’s what I call three birds with one stone hehe)
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn”- O.Fred Donaldson
After breakfast, I encourage my toddler to do some self-play. I usually choose two to three activities and lay them down for her to do on her own. Some examples are play-dough with cutters, a puzzle, popsicle sticks, letters. Usually, she moves from one activity to another. Sometimes, she only chooses to do one activity and other times none at all. I do not force the activities- they are just there for her to approach when she is ready. Here is a picture of her with three activities (a puzzle, a matching game and her roller coaster spinnyos toy.)
NOT JUST LETTERS AND NUMBERS…
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold”- Joseph Chilton Pearce
For a young learner, I know it is important to have different types of activities, which are not just related to academics. Here is an example of an activity we did when her cousin was over. I put pom poms and cut up straws in water and gave them both a try at spoon fishing! (I honestly think my niece enjoyed the activity more than my daughter haha.)
WHERE I STAND TODAY…
I have made a commitment to myself that I need to take responsibility for my daughter’s early learning. Sure, they will learn at school but what they learn from you will only make school easier and them more confident. So moms, dads, caretakers try out an activity today and see your children’s eyes light up and see the joy! (My daughter literally jumps up and down when I say its activity time). I have been getting such good feedback from moms, teachers and friends about the fun activities on the young learner. Do check it out for yourself!