Friday, 9 March 2012

Go Tell it to the Toucan by Colin West.

Back in the day, when A was 4, I had the obligitary panic-about-precious-baby-starting school. I was worried that A was going to already be behind the other children, having spent an inordinately large amount of her early years in front of CBeebies. TV acted as a sedative on A. She was an extremely energetic child. I think if I were to have had toddler A now, she quite possibly would finish me off. Nowadays she has swimming, running, dancing and drama group to burn off some of the excess exuberance, but back then CBeebies was my saviour on wet days, days when I was poorly, or the four months of my pregnancy with C where I had to stay at home because I threw up pretty much constantly. Motherhood is just pretty much non-stop glamour really.

Anyway, I remember mentioning my woes and worries about A's possibly stunted development to a friend who is a primary school teacher. "Can she recite nursery rhymes?" asked the friend? "Erm, yeah!" "She'll be fine". I remember nodding politely whilst thinking "WHAT?" However, after googling things like "what does my child need to learn before school", I found that others agreed with my friend. Apparently (and it makes perfect sense to me now), children who know nursery rhymes have a better sense of rhythm, a better understanding of patterns, and a better awareness of how words fit together in stories. This makes learning reading and maths much, much easier f0r a child, however many times they watched the same episode of Balamory three times in one day because Mummy was too busy vomiting to provide rich and varied educational experiences.

Anyway, this book is one of those lovely repetitious stories which encourage children to provide the last word or phrase of the sentence. All of the jungle animals are looking for the toucan so that he can spread the news about the elephant's jungle jamboree. There is a nice little twist at the end. A and C worked it out, which was nice for them. Although C is now a good reader, it is good for him to listen to a story where he can guess what is going to happen next, as this can only help to develop comprehension skills.

A has reached the age where books where lions and zebras interact without eating each other irritating. I explained to her the concept of "willing suspension of disbelief", and she seemed happy enough with this.

Incidentally, C watched much, much less TV than A. He still does. He was a toddler who was quite happy to potter around and play with toys whilst I did necessary tasks such as cooking, washing, ironing, or reading just a couple more chapters of whatever book I had to hand. I probably would have JUDGED mothers like I was with A had I just had C. In fact I judged myself. But now, looking back, I forgive myself a bit. She can recite nursery rhymes after all...

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