Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why I'd sell my soul for LeapFrog

A strange thing happened in the Green household recently.  As you will know from previous posts, our LGO is quite the avid reader.  He has loved books from the tenderest of tender ages, and spends a good portion of his day voluntarily flicking through the stack we routinely get from the library.  And even though The Belly Book was much more amusing the first 20 times we read it, I'm not complaining.  Heck, I'm even toying with the idea of penning a kiddie book myself (a lot harder than it looks, incidentally).

Mama's Squidgy Spot

Confession time:  I have a particularly squidgy spot for toys that are educational and durable since my boy is, well, a stereotypical boy.  LeapFrog is a firm favourite in this house.  So I'm always on the lookout for cheap LF.  The other day when I stumbled upon their phonics board for a measly $10, even though I knew it was much too early for that sort of thing, I couldn't resist.  The toy teaches the A-B-Cs but also the sounds individual letters make and introduces basic spelling concepts.  It also plays music, which was the key selling point at the time.  I figured LGO could progress on to the letters at a later stage.  Or so I thought.

A History of Ink Blots

He seemed to enjoy punching random letters because of the quirky sounds they made.  And all the while, unbeknown to us, he was secretly absorbing and processing data.  Mr Green and I were staggered.  Now when the toy prompts him to press a certain letter, LGO usually recognizes and hits the corresponding letter.  He can do this about 5-6 consecutive times.  I'd say he's probably got about half of the alphabet down pat.  It is rote memory, and I'm not dumb or proud enough to think this skill makes him a Little Einstein.  So rest assured, I'm not about to spring the ink blots on him just yet.  (Being something of a late bloomer myself, I was subjected to them in a high school enrichment programme.  And look where they got me -- yowsa!  Still, I'm not above ribbing Mr Green that DS has clearly inherited his mother's brains and his father's brawn...)

My son is not a performing seal

Suffice to say, the capacity for learning, even at 18 months of age, shouldn't be underestimated. Exposure to such valuable toys, while entertaining, can only make kids more literate and numerate over time.  And the truth is, LGO loves the board.  Unfortunately, being uncannily like his dear ole ma, he is also easily frustrated when at first he doesn't succeed.  So if and when he makes 'a mistake' and starts to lose it, I quickly switch on the music option or resort to another (more mindless) toy.  Sadly, there are plenty of those around, which pale in comparison to LF.  As a parent, I have to keep my excitement in check.  I figure there is no harm to this brand of early learning, provided there is no pressure to perform, and the game always remains just that -- a game.


  1. Isn't it amazing how quickly they learn things! Surprisingly my little guy has learned some of his letters from Wheel of Fortune! We watch it every night after dinner and one day he just started to call out the letters. We thought it was a fluke so I got out the abc book and even without Pat and Vanna he can pick out letters!

  2. Ha! Good to know Pat and Vanna are good for something ;-)