In the beginning, those twenty pages took hours. On average, there were 5 to 6 words per page that Soo did not understand, which translated to about 100 new words a day. What kept Soo going at the end of each day was the excitement that our father himself showed learning the new words. Each day after work, our father would review the vocabulary list Soo had compiled and valiantly attempt to learn it with her. His evident love of learning was contagious and soon Soo began to look forward to the sessions. Looking back, both Soo and our father found the entire process to be a wonderful bonding experience.
Weeks after she started the project, Soo began to notice that many of the words she had learned earlier in the book were repeated in later chapters. The more she read, the fewer words she had to write down. By the end of the book, she was highlighting only one word per page. The time she spent reading went from several hours to under thirty minutes, and her confidence boomed. By the time Soo finished the book, she had incorporated more than 500 new words into her vocabulary. Not only did she improve her verbal SAT score the next year, she gained a deep sense of pride in her accomplishment. Soo never read a book again without fully comprehending every word in it, no matter how long it took.
Of course, there are many different ways to make learning fun and rewarding, and not all them involve hours reading books in the summer. Let us give you another example, one that involves our mother and Soo at a much younger age.
Like many immigrant parents, our mother chose to stay home with her two kids while our father worked to support his family. Of course, we now realize that being a stay-at-home mom is much tougher than most jobs. In addition to making the home run smoothly, our mother's main goal was to educate her children. Unlike our father's didactic approach, our mother attacked learning with a more playful style.
When Soo was only two years old, our mother taught her the alphabet, numbers, and colors. She used the typical children's books, but she also used some more innovative techniques. Realizing that a two-year-old's attention span was relatively short, our mother minimized the amount of time spent indoors with books. According to our mother, Soo loved going out with her while she ran errands. She would always point to the various signs on the road with curiosity and delight or get her hands on as many products (mostly candy) that she could at the grocery store.
Our mother began asking Soo to identify letters and numbers on everything from road signs to candy wrappers. Within days, Soo was babbling in the car, reading aloud the letters and numbers that she recognized on road signs. Soo eventually became more interested in reading the letters on the wrappers than she was in eating the candy!
These are only a few examples of the many ways parents can teach their children that learning is essential, fun, and rewarding. Our advice to ambitious and loving parents is this: your children will enjoy learning if you show them that learning and education is fun, rewarding, and worth your time. We think it's so worth your time that we're going to give you two other examples from our childhood that show how you might educate your children while creating happy childhood memories.