Anna and Lev (me) raise three children. After finishing the “raising superlearners” course, I asked Anna how she trained in fact with our children. Apparently, Anna’s methods were very different from mine, which is expected in a normal and well-functioning family. Per my request, Anna provided a list of the training she actually does with our children. These exercises are simple, creative, and surprisingly effective. They are not well-structured, and you can adapt easily them for any situation.
“On my way I saw”
This is a variation of “I spy” game. When walking the kids to a store, school or other places we notice things. These things can be declared “Look at this car”, details discussed “Look at that funny toy on the dashboard”, and then the memorization of the details checked later “Do you remember the car we saw early today?”. Extra fun is generated for the child who notices the most details, discusses the details in the funniest and most creative way, and remembers the details later on.
Many times in our life we ask each other “Please give me this thing”. Now, we give extra attention to the details of the “thing”: color, recognizable features, exact location within the home, how it got there, and in which status we will see it. This is especially educational when eating: nobody wants to go hungry.
Having several children has its benefits. When seeing a new, complex or abstract word, we can have a brainstorming of what this word reminds us, what it actually means and how it can be used later on. Spelling is optional. I know that in US spelling often comes before other things, here we try to notice the many ways we can use the word and generate a different meaning.
Every situation can be analyzed from multiple perspectives. What choices do I have? What other situation does it remind me of? What are the consequences of each choice? What would my role models do?
Assumptions and options
Quite often we and our children see things in a particular way. What process did we make to get there? What were the assumptions for this analysis? What other options we could consider? How would very different people assume different things, and reach different conclusions? How can we open up better options? Can we further challenge the assumptions and generate more creative options?
We rhyme all the time, looking for funny combinations of words. Complex words get extra fun. Often they are being discussed and deeply appreciated. Bad rhymes are also accepted, but we try to notice how they can be modified for the better: using synonyms, metaphors etc. It helps that we are authors of several poetry books, but it is definitely not required to have fun with words.
When we name things we project our understanding on them. We visualize the thing, modify it in our visualization, and when we project it back on the thing the thing magically becomes something different. This is a standard exercise in creative writing when you need to provide a character to things. With children, the interaction is more direct. We improvise. We get funny. If you are good at drawing, you can use caricatures in addition or instead of naming.
Popular culture can be your friend if you use it correctly. Movies for children tend to have complex plots and great characters. Trying to recreate the plot and analyzing what moves characters is a great exercise. Personally, I often cheat and google fan forums for extra information. It is also thoroughly discussed, especially different plot choices that did not make it into the final cut.
Signs and brands
We are bombarded by ads. Branding is everywhere. The brands choose certain images, colors, and words for a reason. Surprisingly children are very savvy consumers and can analyze the branding messages very well.
When children learn martial arts or dancing they need to remember several complex steps. We try to recreate the logic of these steps, and from that logic, we try to remember the sequence. The memorization is both in our visualization, our analysis, and our body. This three-fold connection is very important, and we reinforce it with children.
It is important to use different puzzles, including creating puzzles from other things, like menus in a restaurant. Some puzzles use vocabulary, some use math, and some use 3D thinking. It is important not to fixate on one sort of puzzles but try different things. One of the important things we learn: visualizing the whole and how different parts fit together.
Saying difficult words
Some words are damn hard to say, especially in foreign languages. Simply saying the right word is an achievement, remembering its meaning is a bonus. The focus is on developing vocal skills and noticing the nuances.
Children often check limits. It is important not only to place limits but also to discuss the limits of the language appropriate for the child’s age. Different members of the extended family will impose different limits, and this tells about these family members something. Children can understand the differences between people, and how these differences make us better as a team.
This is a surprisingly complex task. Count 1-2-3. Now backward, 9-8-7. Now jumps of 2 or more: 9-7-5. Now Fibonacci sequence: 1-2-3-5-8-13. Now factorial 1-2-6-24. Now I tell you 10 numbers and you tell them back. Now the same task only in reversed order. The exercise can get difficult very fast.
Remembering strange numbers is also a great game. Every number is strange one way or another. What makes this number different? Is it prime? Is it odd or even? Does it divide by 3, 9 or 5 (easy to check)? Does it have a mystical meaning, like 13, 33, 666 etc.
Ask the child do several things at once. If successful, doing each of these things, later on, will be EASY.
Choose a different way
Try going somewhere and back in deferent ways. Now try to use your focus differently, e.g. notice the cars or notice the people or notice the buildings on the left side of the road. The body can also behave differently: walking faster or slower, breathing differently etc.
Look at two images. What makes them similar and what makes them different? Can work with cards, houses, people, abstract objects.
Use lego or plasticine or other working material. Define what you want to build. Now see how the goal is translated into the design. Define the task into subtasks and smaller steps. What are the success criteria for each step?
Of cause, Anna uses more exercises. Some of them are in the body of our course. And some of them will be available only for the 1:1 students. Anna can teach you read faster and remember more, and she also can teach you how to become a better role model and educator. I know this, because she teaches me every day.