Life Integration is a term that I suspect I have coined. If I am wrong, please let me know who else has used it. It is a technique I use to expose my child to a wide variety of facts, skills, and knowledge without ever missing out on living life to the fullest. It is all about finding the WOW, or the teachable moments. Anybody can do it. That means you can too!
Here's how is 5 easy steps.
These tips are all for pre-verbal children. Stay tuned for tips for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and school aged children.
Step 1: Speak fluently
Starting with his first days, I spoke normally to my son. I didn't use baby talk- ever. There really is no usefulness to baby talk. It just means that your child learns one set of vocabulary for things in his/her world only to have to replace them with a whole other set once his/her adults have decided he/she is old enough. If you speak normally to your child from day one, he/she will learn to speak clearly, in full sentences and will use words other people outside of your household will understand earlier, much earlier. Also, because they aren't forced to learn an additional, useless set of words, their vocabulary will be bigger and more sophisticated.
Step 2: Converse
This means that when you speak to your pre-verbal child you should pause to listen to their response. Studies show that this teaches your child to think of what they WOULD say if they COULD say it which means that as soon as they CAN, they WILL. If someone else asks your pre-verbal child a question, answer as if you were them. This teaches them how to answer questions. If you only ask them questions, they will only learn to ask questions but will not know how to answer the questions asked of them. If you only speak to them but don't listen, they will feel like you don't care what their response would be. Pre-verbal children take a minimum of 5 seconds to process what you've said and form a response. So be sure to give them the time they need to answer you.
Step 3: Count
Count everything you see. If you are going up steps, count the steps. If you are having Cheerios or raisins, count them. If you need your child to wait, count up to ten as many times in a row as it takes to keep them at bay. When you are almost ready, count down from 10 to 1. Hearing the names of numbers in sequence will help prepare them for understanding the relationships that numbers have to each other. This is a pre-math skill.
Step 4: Tell them what things are
As you walk around the house, the neighborhood, the store etc, tell them what you see. Speak in full sentences. "I see houses. I see trees. I see cars. I see an orange car. I see a blue house." Talk to them about how the air feels or smells. Talk to them about the weather. Talk to them about how many, what color, how big or small, how much bigger or smaller, what temperature, processes, and sequences. If you are playing with blocks that have letters on them, say the name of the letter AND the sound that letter makes at the beginning of a word. Then say that sound followed by as many words as you can think of that begin with sound. If you they are pointing to numbers, say the number out loud for them. For multi-digit numbers, say the whole number, break it down to digits, and then say the whole number again. That's fifty-eight. Five. Eight. Fifty-eight.
Step 5: Cross the midline
Studies have shown that performing physical tasks that require a child to reach across their body develops the part of the brain that will eventually be used to learn to read and write effectively. One way you can do this is by doing well-known rhymes like patty cake. Make sure you are helping your child to clap and to reach across his/her body to meet your hand. You can also do this by helping them reach for their opposite shoulder, knee and toes, while singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Sing any song and help them clap to the beat. Lay them on the bed, sofa or floor and gently stretch their arms up over their heads. Then stretch each arm out to the side, up over the head, across their body and sweep it across their chest. Repeat with other arm.
These are just a few really easy things that you can do while living your life to help your child reach their individual full potential without any stress on you or them!