Being a child these days is really tough. First, as a baby the clueless child is send to enrichment classes to tweak his/her brain and senses then it is more learning through other artificially induced activities. Why are we doing this? Have we forgotten about learning the natural way? Nowadays children are forced to do accelerated learning which means learn as many things as possible in the shortest time. Many parents complaint that they did everything possible for their children and yet they do not perform as per their expectation. Most parents directly or indirectly equate achievements/performances to academic results.
Why? Peer pressure? Desire of the parents? Family pressure? Pride? Oh gosh... I can go on and on!
When I was a new parent, I did the same. Wanting my child to learn more and faster, looking at all the enrichment classes available. I fell for it. I did use flash cards for a while and even wanted to sign up for some left brain right brain training for my boy! But hey, these things only works for some and believe it or not, there were a few I tried and what they did were activities you can do at home for free! Education business is very lucrative. A business is a business no matter how well-meaning a person may be. Marketing gimmick and all the so called researches to back up their claims (some proven but many were questionable because of the limited people involved in the research) are getting more aggressive. I am also in the education business. I have seen things.
Anyway enough of that. I want to focus on natural learning. One of the best way for a child to learn is by experiencing the real thing. Don't have to do it artificially. Do it for real, let them play with kitchen utensils, cooking together, gardening, picnics, travelling and etc. As they experience real situations, they learn more as oppose to artificial means like flashing cards of objects and expect them to remember. Which is more effective?
One of the most effective way of learning is to read to your child regularly. Start reading to your baby. He/she may not be able to tell you that he/she is learning but believe me, your child is. Your child absorbs the language flow, vocabulary and many more as these will form the foundation for his/her future learning. This is learning in context. If your child refuse to sit with you while you read, it's alright. Continue to read while your child play quitely by your side. It's not going to waste, instead your child is indirectly learning. Repetition is the key for young children. Many parents complaint that their children are not reading enough, don't like books. Well, you will have to cultivate the love for reading from young! Make it a routine. With older children, have lots of discussion about what you read to them. This builds vocabulary, comprehension, narrating and summarizing skills (a foundation to creative writing) and also general knowledge.
Invest in good books. If you can't then the public library is your best friend. Reduce enrichment classes and use the money and time to DIY.15 to 20 minutes is all you need to start with. Instead of watching TV, pick up a book and read to your children. You also get to bond with your children and that is quality time. It's all about perseverance and determination. Don't expect instant results but given time, what you get is definitely worth it.
Sometimes it scares me to see parents investing huge amount of money on 'systems' to enhance their kids' IQ, EQ, memory and etc. It's crazy. Seriously what is the use if your child can read at 2? memorize the entire multiplication table at age 6 or do mental math at record time? Do these abilities translate to useful skills in their later years? Relax! Let your kids be kids and let them enjoy their childhood. I am glad I am no longer brain-washed into thinking that all those 'enrichment' are necessary for my child. Now I enjoy our learning journey the natural way.