I believe that parents are their childrens' first teacher. Although I teach spec ed (and now English and Social Studies) I specialise in high school students. With the exception of my own child, and my friends children, I don't really like young children. I don't hate them or anything. I just think that young kids aren't as interesting as teenagers and there isn't as much to talk about. It's why I teach high school and not elementary. I don't want to spend my whole day with young kids.
Then I had my own child. I still prefer to work out of the home with teenagers, but now I genuinely like spending time at home with Phoenix on the weekends and at night.
Maybe it's because teaching is in my blood. Maybe it's because I believe that the brain is the most flexible and malleable before the age of 8. Maybe it's because I feel like I have something to prove. I don't know, but I really want to make sure I am working with Phoenix to teach her the fundamentals. So we spend some time each day learning.
We don't, however, spend every waking minute on learning activities in the day. First off, because from Mom to Fri Phoenix goes to a wonderful day home while I teach my students. They do regular kid stuff at the day home. It isn't geared towards kids with special needs, although one of the other older boys is a little delayed too because he was a micro preemie.
I'd say that maybe 10-20 minutes a day is all we put into learning activities that are planned by me to target specific concepts or lessons. Sometimes we do a number puzzle, or a sorting activity, or alphabet flash cards or sight words (although her tolerance for sight words is pretty minimal right now). It's no big deal and Phoenix seems to like the activities and benefit from them too.
In terms of the ipad, Phoenix can spend from 20 min to 45 min at a time using apps. We have about 30 apps now and about 90% of them are learning games. We have only a few that are purely for fun, but these all have music attached to them and Phoenix loves them too. Having been using the ipad for 6 months now, Phoe is able to choose the app she wants, use it with minimal support from myself and then move on to another app of her choosing. If you have any other suggestions of apps you are using, please let me know so we can check them out.
Here is Phoenix doing her number puzzle:
And, truth be told, the ipad is also the electronic babysitter. I use it to entertain Phoenix on car rides, when I have chores to do, or when I am not feeling well. It does a very good job of occupying her attention, when I cannot.
I hope never to teach young children in my profession, but it's kind of cool watching Phoenix soak up the lessons I am providing her.