Power of “I don’t know”

A while ago, my husband suggested that we purchase “How to teach your baby to read” program by Gentle Revolution. It’s like a stack of flash cards written with huge red letters and you show them to your child httybtr_lgwhile saying the word – the idea is that rather than memorizing the alphabet “a” “b” “c” and different ways to pronounce them depending on the combination with other letters, we have them memorize the entire word and how it sounds. Since my first language is not English, and I believe that English is a difficult language when it comes to the pronunciation of a word, I thought it was a great idea. It’s not like we’re trying to push all the information into their small brains(our sons are newly 3 & almost 2), it was more like a fun experiment – kind a like how we wanted to experiment with baby sign language which turned out to be really useful, especially for our older son. As a native English speaker of the household, it’s usually my husband who does the showing and says the words to our kids. We would do 5-6 cards at times and we’d show cards like “mother” “father” “apple” and so on. Our kids enjoy saying the words and imitating the sounds most of the time – you are not supposed to do this if they are not in the mood or can’t pay attention, as it’s ineffective.

Our older son enjoys saying words, and it makes him happy when he happens to know the word – but he sometimes guesses the word he is looking at and says whatever word he knew from the previous sessions. We had tried to teach him to say “I don’t know” when he really didn’t know, but it seemed that he had a difficult time saying that he didn’t know. We tried to tell him that it’s okay that he doesn’t know, and we’d like him to let us know if that is the case, so we know what he hasn’t learned it yet. I still remember when he said “I don’t know” for the first time while looking at a word. My husband and I looked at each other, and with big smile on our faces, we told him “That’s good! Thank you for telling us that you don’t know!”. He looked surprised but smiled also. Since then, we started hearing more and more “I don’t know”. I realize that we’ll hear many more “I don’t know” as he grows older – and I am sure that there will come a time when I will let myself be frustrated by that. So this is a reminder for me, and for the parents out there – it’s a wonderful thing when your child tells you that he doesn’t know something. That means he feels safe enough for you to know that he doesn’t know the answer. True learning starts only when you admit to yourself and to others that you don’t know it all. Coincidentally, as you read this blog post, I’m attending another Global Relationship Center course called “Learning and Protection”. From the title it probably is about just what I am writing about. I look forward to going through another amazing self-discovery process.

One Comment on “Power of “I don’t know”

  1. Sounds like a good book Etsuko.
    Do the flash cards have a picture of the item alongside the word?

    I can envision a card that has a picture of an apple on top, the word “Apple” below and a folding line in the middle.
    So you can display one of three states. You can display just the picture of the apple, the word “Apple” or both of them simultaneously.

    This way the brain eventually doesn’t care if it’s looking at the word for the item, a visual representation of the item or, say, an apple itself in the hand. It maps it all to the same place in the neurons.

    It won’t be long before your little ‘I-don’t-know’ers’ are honor students and have all the answers. 🙂
    Happy learning!

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