Check your junk drawer, or perhaps your nightstand. Maybe you’re organized enough to keep it neatly stored in your home office. That forgotten pack of index cards can change your life.
Simple, right? That’s the point. As modern parents, we’ve all been conditioned to look for digital solutions to create efficiency and keep things “interesting” for our kids. We rely on Youtube videos, talking toys, digital apps and animated websites to help them learn everything from foreign languages to math concepts. That’s great. But the result of all of that beautifully produced noise is an ever increasing expectation from our kids that learning requires Hollywood worthy special effects that are more character than content driven. Case in point, most television programs on Disney Jr., Nick Jr. and even (sigh) PBS. In four years of faithfully watching Go, Diego Go!, I think my boys probably picked up less than five words of Spanish. But they could spot (and request) his face stamped on a product at Walmart fifty yards away! Note to Nick Jr., mission accomplished!
I believe that the best way to break through digital noise is to strategically incorporate old school learning methods into our parenting toolkit. There is no substitute for taking our kids to an actual library or bookstore and helping them to pick out books. The online e-book shopping experience, though convenient, cannot replace the sensory thrill of walking around a room and selecting tangible options in unique shapes and sizes. Or finding out that there are ten books available on a child’s favorite subject and actually sitting there reading through them together. I love the library! But back to index cards…
Why Index Cards? Because they are the perfect way to teach and review any factual concept on a regular basis. Consistency is king. I credit Index cards with helping me pass the bar exam. Twice. With helping me memorize scripture during my downtime. With helping me teach my children to read. With helping me increase my sons’ speed in calculating math facts. With helping me to review Mandarin characters for their Chinese lessons. With helping me create simple to-do lists to remember to do all of the above. The possibilities are endless. In 5-10 minutes a day, index cards can help you teach your child just about anything. Why not just buy colorful flashcards to do the same thing? I do. If you’re reviewing a concept that is picture driven like “flags of the world” or “Animals of the Amazon” then a trip to the local Dollar Store for flash cards could save you time and produce the same result. However, there is something to be said for taking the time to write or cut and paste the image on the index card by yourself or with your child. You become more invested in following through and it shows your children that you value the information enough to create the learning tool to provide it. Plus, the simplicity of your handwriting on a basic index card allows your child to focus on the information without getting distracted by how it is delivered. No sound effects, kid-friendly fonts or 3D images required.
What have you been wanting to teach your child that they won’t learn in school?
Black History figures, Presidents of the United States, complex spelling words, Bible Verses etc. The list is only limited by your willingness to create it. If your child is struggling with a subject in school, ask their teacher for the concepts to review and make the cards yourself. Just create the cards and go through them with your child for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night. Or just set aside ten minutes once a day to review. Challenge your child to improve their response time daily. What starts as a ten minute task will quickly become a 2-3 minute review.
Try it and let me know how it goes!