If we are to judge by Scarlet Snow Belo’s more than one million followers on Instagram, then this superstar toddler must be doing amazing things. At 2 years old, Vicki Belo’s daughter can count one to 10 in Chinese, belt out some tunes, and tinker on the computer, among others. Smart Parenting talks to Scarlet Snow’s doting daddy Hayden Kho, who shares how they encourage learning in their precocious 2-year-old. Go ahead and steal these ideas!
1. Be your child’s first teacher. “We all know that a child’s learning starts the moment she is born, and it never ends,” Hayden shares. Scarlet Snow’s first “classes” actually started with her parents, and these focused on love and intimacy, which Hayden and Vicki taught and continue to teach by example.
2. Expose your child to a variety of activities. It’s never too early to start. Scarlet Snow had her first tutor for basic skills when she was 6 months old. By her eighth month, Scarlet Snow was already enrolled in a children’s music class. “At 10 [months], we added swimming just so she becomes comfortable with water; then at 1 year old we started bringing her to kiddie gymnastics class,” Hayden recalls.
At present, Scarlet Snow goes every morning to a bilingual playschool. “So far, she loves her baking classes [there]. Just recently, she was given the award “Master Baker.” “It’s her first ever award in her lifetime, so it’s very cute,” says Hayden.
At home, she takes voice lessons and learns Mandarin during one-on-one sessions. Adds Hayden, “Her yayas also now speak to her in Tagalog so she could learn the language, too.”
Check out these suggested classes for your little one: •Kinder Music – a music and movement program for parents and children, ages newborn to 7 years old. Dancing, playing, and singing help them associate learning with fun, musical play. •Bert Lozada Swim School – a swim school for babies as young as 6 months that teaches them to be confident and happy in the water. The school also offers classes for kids and adults. •The Little Gym – a program that starts babies as young as 4 months (with their parents) on physical activities, which build flexibility and strength and develop balance and coordination, among others. •Kids Mandarin Club – a place where children ages one to 12 learn Mandarin through interactive experiences that include song, dance, games, reading, conversing, role-playing, and even art. •Clayton Learning Center – has an EduMandarin curriculum with a specific number of hours allotted each week for teaching in Mandarin, available for babies as young as 1 year and 8 months.
3. Nurture, nurture, nurture. Scarlet Snow is in a stage where she just absorbs everything she sees and hears and experiences. Not surprisingly, Hayden says, she has become very adept at repartee. “She’s so witty and full of ideas. I think it’s partly her nature, but nurture plays a bigger role here,” Hayden explains.
“The best approach is to just enjoy them and discover, by spending a lot of time with them, what their natural gifts are, and celebrate that.”
4. Encourage the use of their imagination. While Scarlet Snow can’t read yet, she makes up her own stories based on storybook pictures. Of late, her favorite is the Bible Stories for Children. “One time she woke up ahead of us and she grabbed the huge book. I was half-awake, so I could hear her. She was telling herself the story of Adam and Eve, but it’s all mixed up with the story of Noah, Jonah, Zacchaeus, and Jesus’ birth story,” relates Hayden.
5. Practice focused play. While learning happens in a fun setting, there is value in making it structured and goal-oriented. Here’s what Scarlet Snow’s week looks like:
Tuesday: Toddler Logic (numbers, cause-effect)
Wednesday: Words (learning new words)
Thursday: Training (for mind and body coordination; e.g., dancing and tumbling)
Friday: Imagination (stories, stuffed toys)
Saturday: Nature (walking in the garden and examining trees, flowers, insects, and animals)
Sunday: Worship (reading Bible stories)
Head to these kid-friendly parks in Metro Manila for "nature Saturdays": •Terra 28th and Track 30th in BGC – Terra 28th has playground art installations of old Filipino games such as piko, holen, and luksong baka. Track 30th has interactive art installations made of recycled materials as well as a jogging path, yoga, and exercise lawn. •La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City – go for a nature walk or visit the orchidarium and butterfly haven
6. Use technology responsibly. There’s a certain degree of caution that parents should practice when it comes to using technology. Hayden reveals they are not like many parents who are afraid of it. “These things aren’t going away and in fact, will move at an even more incredible pace. We don’t want our child to be left behind. The basic intellectual skills --reading, writing, and arithmetic -- will remain to be a priority, of course, and fortunately, there are apps that help parents become better teachers.”
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Scarlet Snow’s Magic 5 (find these on iTunes or Google Play): •Starfall – teaches your child to become confident readers as they become familiar with letters and sounds through words, sentences, and games •Kids Academy – hones your child’s writing and reading skills, prepares them for math, and sharpens visual perception and hand-eye coordination through games •Endless Series – Endless Alphabet teaches the ABCs and builds vocabulary, while Endless Reader introduces sight words to achieve reading fluency •YouTube Kids – features children’s best-loved videos in a kid-friendly interface. Parents can use the built-in timer to limit screen time and turn off the search function for restricted viewing •Curious World – lets your child shape their own learning adventure by choosing from games, educational videos, and read-along books
As far as Hayden is concerned, the most important lessons they teach Scarlet Snow are in their nightly Bible story-telling and prayer time together. “The intelligent mind is useless without a heart sensitive to God and to love.”
Whatever activities your children engage in, Hayden says, “The best approach is to just enjoy them and discover, by spending a lot of time with them, what their natural gifts are, and celebrate that.”
This article was updated on June 22, 2017, 11:04 AM.