Parenthood is a journey of endless learning, and as parents, we constantly discover new ways of engaging our children to nurture and develop them.
As working parents, we often have very limited time with lil V, and more often than not, weekends are spent on errands. Of late, we’ve been busy with preparations (think spring cleaning, packing, unpacking, sorting and re-arranging the nursery again…) for our new baby, B2. Needless to say, it’s been trying for us when it comes to spending quality time with V, instead of plonking her in front of the television.
Not that we’ve anything against the goggle box when it comes to our child, but we feel that everything should be in moderation. Too much of something may lead to a habit (good or bad!) and excessiveness may not actually be a good thing when it comes to a young child’s development.
How a toddler’s brain develops
During toddlerhood (the first three years), a child’s mind develops rapidly. And by the time she turns three, her brain would already be about 80% that of an adult’s.
According to research findings, “In the second year of life, the brain organizes the connections for language when the child sees pictures in a book and hears the parent give names for the pictures simultaneously. Parents and other primary caregivers can help language development at this age by reciting nursery rhymes, songs, and poems throughout the day.”
So what can parents do to encourage a toddler’s development?
Experts recommend that “parents can support their child’s brain development for language during these times by providing experiences that allow the child to practice emerging skills. Opportunities during the course of the day to engage in face-to-face interaction, hear language being spoken, listen to the written word read aloud, and practice associating objects with words provide language experiences without undue stress or over-stimulation.”
Did you know? From birth to 4 years old, 50% of the ability to learn is developed during this time!
One of the ways to encourage language development is with the use of learning devices to support learning during the early childhood years.
Toys with music, songs and bright lights aside, we were presented with an opportunity to introduce an interactive learning program to lil V, and have the young lady test drive it!
Here’s sharing our review on our experience with the Early Learning Program, which is a part of the Total Development Program, researched and developed by educators and experts who specialise in the early childhood years.
What is the Total Development Program?
With a primary focus on early learning resources, Educational Technologies Limited (ETL), a subsidiary of Times Publishing Limited, developed 5 programs to cater to the needs of children from 3 – 8 years old. These 5 core materials include: A Child’s First Library of Values, A Child’s First Library of Learning, Early Learning Program, English Time™ and Learning Math with Albert.
The Total Development Program encompasses 3 key areas of a child’s development: Knowledge, skills and values.
Each of the 5 programs are established around these 3 key areas, and each of them offer a holistic learning experience which includes individual sets of hardcover books, Walter (an interactive learning device) and multimedia support such as CD-ROMs, audio CDs or DVDs, activity books or even online tests.
An overview of the 3 elements embraced by the Total Development Program for kids.
Fueled by their belief that babies and young children have a huge capacity to learn through their five senses, these educational experts put together resources that would stimulate their senses as stimulation works towards helping the brain to develop.
What is the Early Learning Program?
Before you mistaken, these books are not put forth to turn your child into a genius.
In fact, with the 17 books from the Early Learning Program, they seek to nurture a child in 8 key aspects, namely: Listening and concentration skills, early language and reading skills, early manipulative skills, visual and observation skills, self-help skills, social and emotional skills, early mathematical skills and knowledge and concepts.
In other words, these are basic life skills individuals should be equipped with whether in a social setting, nurturing relationships, learning about self-worth or part of being analytical.
With these books along with Mini Walter™ (Vera knows Walter™ can read her books!), the interactive companion which brings the stories and content to live, learning can be more engaging in addition to mummy or daddy reading aloud.
Not sure what I mean? Read on to find out how little V takes to Walter™ (her new friend!) and the Early Learning Program!
Putting the Early Learning Program to test
- How to use the Early Learning Program
The Early Learning Program consists of 17 different books to help young children develop 51 different skills through interactive stories.
The idea behind these books is to facilitate parents and their children to discover and explore the brightly-coloured pages, and spend time engaging with each other through the contents.
Before starting on your favourite book, I’d recommend reading the Parent’s Guide to understand how best to use the Early Learning Program with your child, learn about the special features and functions within the books and how Walter™ is used to accompany you on this journey.
Because Vera is still pretty young, our plan was simple – allow her to have fun with the books and have her use Walter™ independently. We came up with our own way of using these books to suit her too. Read on to find out!
But, first. Who exactly is Walter™?
Well, Walter™ is an electronic learning device which intelligently picks up special codes from the books to bring the words, pictures and sounds to live. Walter™ reads paragraphs, is able to read individual words as well as pick up information within pictures and offer music or sounds intuitively.
- How parents can engage their young children with the Early Learning Program
So how did we use the books with Vera?
- Look through the contents of all 17 books and choose one (We chose to start with The Great ABC Treasure Hunt!) based on your understanding of your child’s comprehension level.
- Show the selected book to your child, share the contents such as pictures and words with her and gauge her interest level.
- Introduce Walter™ and demonstrate how Walter™ is used together with the book and how your child can use Walter™ too.
Sharing a tip: As these books are not categorised by age, it means that children aged 3 – 8 years old can enjoy them together or independently. So if you have more than one child, the books can go way beyond to feed each child with interesting knowledge and skills! They can take your child throughout the years too – talk about mileage!
Exploring the Early Learning Program
- Tips on exploring the Early Learning Program
When we showed her The Great ABC Treasure Hunt book, which she now calls it the “ABC book” and “Walter™” when she wants us to read, Vera took to them readily and started flipping the book! Aced the introductory welcome bit! :P
So, here’s what we did:
- Showed her the book, told her the title of the book and turned the pages to pique her interest. She now tells us that she wants to read the “ABC book” and asks for Walter™ at bedtime or even when she wakes up in the morning!
- Showed her how to use Walter™ by pointing out the 3 different coloured eyes within the book. Each colour represents a unique function which triggers Walter™ – read a paragraph, pronounce a word or describe a picture along with some sounds e.g. bees buzzing. In fact, you can even record your child’s or your own voice with Walter™ and do a play back to listen!
- Initialise Walter™ whenever it’s turned on so that the device is able to run its pre-stored information as we used it throughout the pages.
- Talked to her and asked her simple questions relating to the pictures: “Where is the alligator?”, “Let’s get Walter™ to read this paragraph.”, “Where is the birthday cake?”, “Shall we get Walter™ to read this word?” This makes the parent-child time and interactive one while exploring the book.
Fun ways to explore the Early Learning Program with a toddler
That didn’t seem too difficult for a toddler right? Since V is only 2 years old, we decided to improvise and play along with her using the Early Learning Program. We’re definitely not expecting her to know how to read the words, but a simple tweak can make these books useful for her current development too.
The 17 books in the Early Learning Program come with different ways of involving a child in addition to the use of Walter. Check out some of the fun elements in this video – please excuse the amateur quality!
Some ideas how parents can explore the Early Learning Program with a toddler:
- Picture Hunt: Ask your child to look for a certain character on the pages e.g. animals or items and have her point them out and repeat the word to you.
- Letter Search: If you’re exploring The Great ABC Treasure Hunt book, ask your child to point out to the hidden letters within the pictures. This helps her to identify, match and understand which are the right letters.
- Ask Questions: Point to a certain picture (e.g. a girl crying) and ask her why she thinks the girl is crying. You might be fascinated with her thought process and how she connects and makes sense of things! This encourages parent-and-child communication and engagement too!
- Pronouncing New Words: With Walter™ articulating the new words, parents can repeat the word and explain the meaning or point out to the respective object within the pages. Encourage your child to repeat the word and for her to do the same so she connects the word with a picture.
These timeless learning resources make a classic must-have in the home library or even at schools. For parents who organise playdates or homeschooling sessions with their kids, this program brings a new dimension to learning and development too.
For older kids who are able to read independently, they’ll enjoy using Walter to explore the contents within!
Education centres which embrace holistic learning would discover the benefits that the Early Learning Program has to offer to children across the ages. For educators who are on the lookout for resources to complement a child’s 360 learning, this would make a complementary addition to the teaching materials.
Best of all, these books can last through different ages and stages in a child’s life, thus stretching the exploration journey with creativity along the way!
Where to get the Early Learning Program?
The Early Learning Program is available through authorised distributors in Singapore and other parts of the world.
Simply schedule an appointment to arrange for an Educational Consultant to share more on the Early Learning Program, as well as the other 4 core resources that are part of the Total Learning Program put together for your children.
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#The Triqo set is a 3-D learning toy which embodies creative play with its unique make and functions. Used in Mathematics lessons by educators in Australia, each set comprises of squares and triangles, offering limitless construction possibilities. Triqo is suitable for children from 5 years old, and is great for both indoor and outdoor play.
What are your thoughts on incorporating learning devices to aid your children’s development? Do share some tips with us too!
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