Jodie Becker is a first nations Canadian mom living abroad in the Netherlands with her Dutch husband, two bilingual tots Alexander (7 years) and Madeleine (3 years) and 5 chickens (aka the escape artists).
While flashcards have been a preschool staple for generations of Canadian families, Jodie developed a new way to use them along with an innovative way to inspire intrinsic learning. Learning through movement (kinesthetic learning) paired with inspiring multi-concept themes makes learning fun for kids (and teaching fun for parents!).
The concept is based on more than 10 years of experience working directly with children in various roles, including one of the Netherlands’ leading bilingual childcare facilities.
Lack of time – a familiar challenge to all working parents – was what drove Jodie to develop the method further for her two-year-old daughter who had fallen through the cracks during the chaos of entrepreneurship, running a household and caring for two children with severe allergies and asthma. Connecting with her daughter was challenging enough, let alone instilling educational concepts. Playing organised games and activities with a defiant toddler was draining both of their energy – it became work, and the connection fell away during these focused moments.
After welcoming Alexander in 2014, it quicky became clear that this little guy wasn’t going to have an easy time of things and within the year we discovered the severity of his milk allergy and asthma. Daycare wasn’t on the table (because of what was on the table) and after dozens of severe reactions, ambulance trips and hospital stays, I accepted my fate as a helicopter parent.
Alexander enjoyed stay-at-home mom bliss for his first four years as I primarily ran my translation business in the evenings and during naptime. This bilingual kid was rocking it and when he first started preschool at age 2, his teachers were amazed to see that Alexander knew the names of all the shapes, colours and numbers. I was pleasantly surprised because I really hadn’t intended to teach him these concepts and had hardly invested any effort into his education (aside from being a total bookworm and storybook addict). I took stock of what I had actually done with my little guy and it came down to my ‘cheat’. My lazy game of all things! What I did was an extension of the method I had been using intuitively throughout the years, all the way back to my babysitting club days in Canada.
I used the method to connect through a language barrier with my au pair kidlets (aged two and five) in Amsterdam and teach them English. I used the method to share learning concepts with a vertical group at a bilingual daycare. I used the method to welcome and interact with frightened pre-schoolers as they entered a new environment (for some, this was even a new country and new language). I used the method to help my husband teach our toddler son Dutch vocabulary when English was his stronger language. I even used the method with my adorable Sunday school group to incorporate movement into the lesson plans. Powerful stuff. On accident.
These were truly some of my best moments and I can still relive the feeling of witnessing each of these little minds blossom and grow right before my eyes. Joy. Pure joy and no effort.
So, what was this brilliant ‘cheat’? All I did was create make-shift flashcards and place them throughout the space. I issued silly commands such as ‘walk backwards to the triangle’, ‘touch your nose to the red circle’ or ‘put three blocks on the number three’. Easy-peasy.
Why now, though? Why launch this method into the wider world? Well, aside from truly wanting to share this feel-good technique with others (which I have done on an informal level throughout the years), it was Madeleine’s turn to grow, and the method came back into the picture. I also got a big wake up call. By the time my little wild child came along, my business was booming, and I found myself investing far more time into Alexander’s education and health. My cheeky girl was no longer a baby, and she was hungry for more knowledge. These past years have been filled with turmoil and challenges for both of my babies and together with a flourishing translation business, this had kind of left Madeleine in the dust. Our little girl was having fun but missing milestones and this really hit home.
My spicy little toddler was the first product tester and she tore through the concepts like nobody’s business. Where her big brother was delightfully tame and inquisitive as a young child, Madeleine is a force to be reckoned with. This kid could sniff out mommy’s intentions to tame her from a mile away and she resisted any educational activities and games I dared to present (I have them ALL). Until the cards. It all came flooding back to me during a fingerpainting-induced meltdown – the flashcards, we need the flashcards! They were an immediate hit and in a whirl of passion and enthusiasm, I decided to re-organise my life to ensure that the product was brought to the market. Well, it’s here. With the help of a fantastic network of amazing women, the method is now out there in the world and in your homes. Enjoy!