After my son started going to preschool, I looked for some good workbooks to do at home over the summer with him. Unfortunately, there weren’t any. There were lots of books about shapes, colors, counting, reading… but none about “stuff.” I realized why my home efforts to teach him had been stalled. He had learned all that basic preschool information, which as a new mom scanning my environment, I had learned was important. But he hadn’t learned concepts at all.
Then I went to a friend’s house and she showed me a workbook that her grandfather had sent to her from France, for her little three year old. Amazed, I saw page after page about concepts: in front, in back, above, beneath, inside, outside, bigger, smaller, some/many/all/none, less, more… I was shocked! Small, easy lessons about normal “stuff”!! Why don’t they make these types of things here in America?
I went back to the bookstore, looking for it to prove me wrong. I was disappointed. Tons of academic skills, still no “stuff,” no concepts. These are the types of things kids really need to know, much more than their ABCs and 123s. I am not saying that those things aren’t important, but there is no way they are as relevant to normal social and linguistic interaction as prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, etc. These things: fast, slow, quickly, stopped, busy, waiting… these are all the things we try to communicate to our toddlers and preschoolers every day. They may naturally pick these things up, or not, but to some degree, they could all use explicit teaching. Most could use a lesson on how to “Give your brother some of that playdoh!”