Friday, December 15, 2023

F ³: Flash, Crash, Smash, Splash

 Delete. All. Ads.

I’m on a mission. My Facebook feed has become so inundated with the frenzy of “Buy Me! Buy Me!” That I can no longer think straight. 

I just go to that X in the right hand corner and click. 

Go away, “things you must buy on Amazon for under 25 dollars.” Go away, “luxury cookware you cannot live without.” And - - most of all - - Go away, “toddler learning flash cards.”

Toddlers do not need or want flash cards. Age-appropriate activities that toddlers will do with flash cards are: chew on them, throw them, hide them, slide on them like skates, feed them to the dog, dump them in the bathtub to see if they float. Scribble on them. Look at the pictures (briefly). Put them in a bag or purse, dump them out. Repeat.

There are so many choices for gift-giving when it comes to toddlers. Flash cards aren’t one of them. Flash cards come with an added burden: skill and drill. Life for toddlers is full of so much daily living “skill and drill” that - - honestly! - - they do not need any more, especially for things like letters and numbers isolated from any concrete meaning.

Every day toddlers experience a huge amount of practice in the things their caregivers think are important.

  • You need to keep your socks and shoes on in the car. (Who knew?) 
  • Food stays on your plate until you eat it. 
  • There’s a whole process to this potty thing.
  • You will often have to wait.
  • Bedtime and naps are appealing only to grownups.
  • Rules don’t make sense, but you have to live with them anyway.
  • Markers are not really all-purpose.
You think without flash cards that toddlers aren’t learning? Au contraire!

Toddlers are innately curious and will pursue that curiosity as long as it is safe for them. A toddler will persist at overcoming the safety latch on your kitchen cabinets with the diligence of a practicing concert pianist. (Ask me how I know.) That is why they might try everything possible with a deck of flash cards except what adults think they are made for.

There are many ways in which family members can support young children that will prepare them for schooling and what is often referred to as “academics”. Talking with and listening to your child is free and is a huge brain builder. Reading aloud is, too. Buy that toddler a really engaging picture book. Toys which encourage imagination and open-ended play provide hours of enjoyment and contain within them moments of discovery, exploration, experimentation, and joy.

Flash cards? Not so much.

I saw one advert yesterday which did not cause me to run away screaming . It said, “Experiences take up no room in the closet.” While I don’t recommend taking a toddler on a ghost tour (what the ad was for) I do think that experiences like zoo trips, kid’s concerts, museums, and so on make great gifts for young children. Just make sure you know your audience. Some children just can’t sit long enough yet for performances. Others might be terrified by dinosaur bones, or clowns. 

If you are bound and determined to buy a toddler flash cards, I should point out that “seeing how many cards you can drop into the toilet before an adult comes running” is both a science experiment and employs math elements, too. Good luck with that.

And one more thing. Ask the parent before you give their child an accordion.

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