By contributing writer Tabitha
With so many presidents to celebrate and remember, it’s sometimes hard to find a way to introduce learning about them or even just their names! My children all learn so differently, but my 8 year old has taught me many things about finding new ways to learn what seems to be impossible.
He came to me one day and said something about one of the unfamiliar presidents (you know, not Lincoln or any of the Founding Fathers or anyone recent), and I think I asked him who he was talking about. (Yes, I really was batting a thousand that day.)
I already knew he loved puzzles and had learned the alphabet and numbers before he could talk mainly through puzzle pieces and magnets. How was he doing it? It turns out that this child of mine learns by manipulating things with his hands. Once he could read and write, writing words down and drawing diagrams helped him learn things he’d never even tried before. (Making models is going to be so fun for him.)
But Presidents of the United States? What happened? It turns out the Target dollar section and kids’ stuff consignment store purchases were more amazing than I’d ever expected.
He was already doing our United States puzzle by the time he was four. Why should I be surprised that our old Presidents puzzle actually was interesting to him?
This is a wooden puzzle that we bought at a parent/child used clothing/toy store. None of my kids were very interested in it at the time, but I’m glad I held on to it! There are many other president puzzles you could use (like this one from Melissa and Doug).
We never use these as actual place mats but rather for entertainment on car trips or quiet time or just something to put on the table during homeschooling for the little kids. They’re usually on the end of an aisle at Walmart or similar stores for a dollar or two, and while they don’t last forever, they’ve been used by all my children in their play.
I hadn’t noticed his love of the maps and the Presidents place mats.
I’m not a flash card person. It seemed a waste to me when we could make our own word cards and math fact cards personalized to our own needs. However, I saw some fun animal picture cards, United States president cards. and United States state cards in the dollar section at our local Target and picked them up. I even bought another set when they were there again, just in case we misplaced some.
This tactile learner of mine did something I didn’t expect. He would line them up over and over in order on the floor, on the table, on the stairs. He knew their faces and facts about them through repeated handling of the cards, turning them over, reading the back as he made these great arrays that would fit the available space.
I also bought a workbook. I like the themed ones when it’s something my children are REALLY interested in.
I feel that while I wasn’t quite aware of his learning about the Presidents, that somehow I was prepared for his learning needs ahead of time, and it was also a great tool for discovering more about how my son learns difficult things and learns them in a different way than many in his family. His learning has inspired the rest of my children and they talk about history and the Presidents more often.
Do what works for you and your learners! Even if it’s by accident.