Early Childhood Education: Working with the Older Child

To continue on from where I left off in my previous post about starting formal education early for children

Although it is not impossible to teach an older child, it does require more creativity and effort from the teacher.  Take Gavin for example – I need to be extra resourceful to make my lessons interesting to him.  I can’t plan my lessons too rigidly; I need to leave them open and go with Gavin’s flow.  For instance, today, I started by showing him all the Bits of Intelligence cards on Land Vehicles and asked him to pick one.  He chose the Mallard which was a steam locomotive and the fastest of its kind.  When I was telling him about the Mallard, I made sure I related all the facts to the engines on the Island of Sodor.  I told him that the Mallard that held the world record for the fastest steam engine (even faster than Gordon) was now in the British National Railway Museum (I used Gordon’s definition of a museum which I remembered hearing in the Thomas story about Toby and the museum) which was in York, England – the country we’re currently learning about.

Now that he was excited about going to England to see the Mallard in the British National Railway Museum, I could teach him a few facts about England.  I showed him the map of England and where it was on the world map in relation to where we live.  I talked about flying to Heathrow Airport and needing to change our currency to the English pound so we could buy Thomas stuff for him.  I showed him London Bridge – like the one that was “falling down” in the nursery rhyme.  I showed him what kind of food we could eat in England and asked if he liked it.  He didn’t take to the roast beef but he liked the idea of ice cream on apple pie.  Then I showed him the other sights we could see in England which didn’t really interest him until I talked about Thomas Island at Drayton Manor.  And so the lesson went…

The key to teaching an older child is to remember to keep it light, keep it fun and to tap into their active imaginations.  I even had the whole “let’s pretend we’re going to fly to England” – what would we see at the airport?  There’s Jeremy the Jet Plane who is going to fly us to Heathrow Airport.  Doing the whole imaginary thing is good for child development if you remember what I wrote about the Vygotsky approach to early childhood education.

Next up, we’ll have to take a camel ride through the desert, canoe down a river in the tropical rainforest, and take a ride the submarine to observe the marine wildlife as we learn about Biomes

This whole exercise with Gavin has made me realise the true value of homeschooling and the importance of being a hands-on Mum.  Because I was Gavin’s primary caregiver since he was little, I can tailor his lessons to his interests.  I’m not so sure that a teacher (no matter how committed) with a classroom full of students would be able to do this.  Having been involved with all his interests since he could decide for himself, I know enough details about Thomas and Friends to make learning about the Mallard interesting to him – something I don’t think I would have been able to do if I had not been his primary caregiver.

Last but not least, since young children need love to learn, it makes sense that the teacher should be someone they connect well with.  Who better to fulfill this role than Mum?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Early Childhood Education: Working with the Older Child

  1. shenli

    would appreciate if you could share where do you get all these materials for teaching your kids? am very much interested but i’m not a SAHM so i guess i’m limited in that sense…and also limited in the ideas of what to teach them…

    was also wondering if you could comment on Brillkids The Little Reader Learning System if you have any. thanks.


  2. MieVee – I totally agree. I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be.

    Mel – My materials:




    I also make my own power point slides for flashcards which I upload to the brillkids forum here:


    Other stuff I buy from the book shops:

    posters, sticker atlas, CD ROM programs…

    I have been meaning to write about the Little Reader System. I took the trial mainly to review it but I didn’t seriously consider getting it because I had already bought the Glenn Doman flashcards and that was quite an investment in itself. If I hadn’t bought Glenn Doman, I would definitely have bought the Little Reader System.

    These are the main reasons why I would get LR:

    – customisable to your child (you can put pictures of your child and your family members to make the slides relate better to your own child, e.g. when teaching parts of the body, you can use photographs of parts of your child’s body)

    – slides can be shown as words only, pictures only, or both (Glenn Doman are words only which might be ok for an older child who already knows what a ship or golf is, but it means nothing to a baby).

    To make up for the lack of pictures explaining what the words are, I’ve had to make my own powerpoint slides to supplement my Glenn Doman flashcards.

    Hope that helps…


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