The greatest gift you can ever give your child .......
....other than love?
In the build up to Christmas there will be a host of lists showing the 'Top 10 Wooden Toys' or the 'Top 10 Most Wanted Toys for Christmas 2013'. These lists will be filled with lots of very creative and entertaining toys (lots of which would be wooden toys and sold on my website - if you ask me!!).
However, in my opinion, the greatest gift you can give a child or toddler is the ability to read and communicate!!!
Everything in life builds on this most important of skills.
Watching the world open up to a child as they begin to read and how this helps enhance their life is one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent. As much as your child or toddler will get out of learning to read there are also points at which you as parents will get such a sense of pride out of their achievements and the happiness and enjoyment they get as they develop.
There are certain events when you have children that will remain with you forever. One of these for me was during a visit from the Health Visitor. This was with my first child and I had no idea why they were coming to my house........were they coming to check on whether I had a clean enough house to raise a child? Were they coming to check on the health of my child and see whether I'd been doing a good job and therefore been a good Mum for the first 18 months of their life????
Well as we sat in the playroom and began to chat, my toddler went to get their wooden alphabet puzzle.......
......which was very similar to this Melissa & Doug Puzzle on our website. They emptied all of the letters onto the carpet and then without any prompting started by saying:
A for Apple - and putting it in the correct place, then
B for Ball followed, then
C for Cat
all the way through to......
Z for Zebra (on the one we had at the time).
I knew he was pretty good with his letters and numbers, but the Health Visitor was slightly taken aback by the 18 month old sitting on the floor looking very pleased with himself!! At the risk of sounding a little gushing, I was very proud of him!
As you might expect we had played with this wooden toy a lot, and our toddler loved it. We also had lots of little books....
....just like these wooden books, which we were always reading and playing with as our toddler sat on our knee.
For those of you that have read my Panda Blog, you may already have the impression that my husband is a little mad!! Well, this next bit won't help him.
When he was washing and then drying the dishes, he would spell out to our toddler each thing he dried! Our toddler was bouncing away merrily in his bouncy chair while being slowly brain washed!!
It got to the point where my husband would be drying a bowl, and he would hold it up for our 2 year old toddler, who would then spell out and say 'B-O-W-L, bowl'!!! It was amazing to watch. The same happened with P-A-N!!
Another of those proud 'Mummy Moments' occurred during my child's first year at school. The children all came running out one day with a letter. While many of the other children were asking their parents what it was about I was being read the letter by a child who was only just 5!!! His reading was opening up a whole new world to him, and for a while after this other children would often ask my child to read party invites, birthday cards and letters home so that they knew what they said. It was very weird hearing this from teachers at Parent's Evening!!!
The letter was about a trip to Seven Stories, which is a fantastic place for you to take your children if you are in Newcastle. Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children's Books, and they offer fantastic regular exhibitions, events and learning programmes. They help to bring books to life for children, and encourage a love of reading. There are costumes the children can dress up in and put on their own shows, and fab craft activities, along with many other brilliant things to do - have a look at their website as they always have special events and new and interesting things happening.
I don't subscribe to the thought that babies are born with a pre-determined aptitude and ability. I think it is what we teach them, the experiences that they have and the environment in which they grow up that develops them into a child who we then send to school.
As parents we try to prepare our children as well as we can to be ready for school. Reading brings our children and us hours, weeks, months and years of fun!! We can give them the 'Greatest Gift' by teaching them to read. Take a look at some of our fab wooden toys for toddlers to help with the fun and learning - it certainly worked for us!