This past weekend we were fixated on the Olympics. Our family watched a lot of coverage and thoroughly enjoyed it—well, at least Sid and I did. Although I think Sloan might still enjoy her YouTube videos to the Games, she did show some genuine interest in what we were watching.
And I think that is good. I believe that the Olympics provide learning opportunities, even for a 4-year-old. Over the past few days I think we have had some mild success in conveying the following lessons to Sloan…
1. The World is a Big Place – By watching the Olympics, Sloan is starting to learn that there is more to our world than just Washington and South Carolina. By seeing the different flags, hearing the different languages, and observing different nationalities, she is developing a concept of countries. She might not be able to distinguish exactly what makes Spokane different from Germany, but the seed has been planted.
2. Tokyo – The country of Japan, especially the incredible city of Tokyo, will forever have a place in Sloan’s heart. This place has been drilled inside Sloan’s brain the past few days and while she might not know the names of all the countries on this planet she does know about this far east island. Sloan was introduced to Japan during the opening ceremony and has become more acquainted with it by seeing all the cutaway shots of Tokyo during the Olympics coverage. I also took the opportunity to teach her some kid-friendly facts about Tokyo courtesy of the world wide web.
3. Cheering for the Stars and Stripes – As Sloan has learned about the world and all the countries that it encompasses, we have also taken the liberty to highlight the country she lives in. We have cheered hard for the American teams and athletes, hoping our passionate support rubs off on her. So far it has…she has morphed into a red, white, and blue cheerleader! Trying to teach her the hierarchy of town-state-country-continent-world is undoubtedly challenging, but I think she is coming around to what it means to live in the United States of America.
4. The Diversity of Sport – Over her short life, Sloan has been conscious of the sports that she will sometimes find her daddy watching on TV—baseball, football, and basketball. But over the course of just 72 hours, she has learned that there is so much more to the athletic world than American-inspired sports. From hand ball to water polo to equestrian to synchronized diving to so much more, Sloan has watched these games with eyes wide open. To be honest, it just isn’t Sloan getting a crash course in the diversity of sport—I am too!
5. Winners and Losers – A valuable lesson Sloan has learned is that there are winners and losers. Not everyone wins gold, not everyone gets a medal. Yesterday we watched a medal ceremony where an Australian athlete won gold and as the unfamiliar anthem played, I explained to Sloan that the United States did not win. I didn’t have to heart to elaborate and say that “not winning” is a common theme for all of us throughout life but hopefully this will set the stage for that discussion later on.
If you have kids I hope you get the opportunity to watch some of the Olympics with them. It truly is fantastic family programming with lots of lessons built in. If you feel like I have missed any of the lessons in this post, please let me know…I would love to share them with Sloan over the next couple weeks. Don’t Blink.