The Two Year Old Teacher

by Tiggy Johnson

As parents we are generally open to accepting that our toddlers provide us much opportunity to learn about ourselves. But what about when it comes to our own learning? Do many of us really believe our toddlers can act as our teachers?

Since the moment he received his first Matchbox car, my son has been obsessed. His interest fails to waver, whether we consider toy cars, car-watching from the back seat of his ‘Mitsufishi’, the plethora of vehicle advertisements on television or the weekly newspaper’s Car Guide.

It was not long after his second birthday that the clearly formed sounds ‘Ford’ and ‘Holden’ emerged from his tiny mouth and merely weeks later that I realised the words were not used randomly, but to identify specific vehicles. Accurately.

Within months he had learned to recognise the logos from more popular cars and as he declared ‘that’s Honda’, ‘that one’s Toyota’, there’s Nissan’, on every family drive, I noted, as I too learned to identify the logos, that his accuracy well exceeded ninety percent. Even from long distances.

Months before his third birthday, I was stunned to discover he could discern particular makes of cars from their side view, as we approached cars waiting to turn from side streets. I would check the logo as we drove by, and shook my head with dropped jaw each time. Spot on.

Soon after, he was comparing the Holden Astra with the Commodore and I found myself becoming interested in the Barina, Vectra and Monaro so I could join in on his play.

With the help of the newspaper’s Car Guide, it wasn’t long before he could read the logos for almost every make of vehicle available in Australia and I am amazed at how simple it seems for me to learn alongside, after years of ignorance.

Of course, the development of my car education has extended beyond, to ensure I utilise my son’s interest by assisting his development in other areas. It is useful to play colour games or practice numbers and counting skills using cars, either his toys or while we’re out in our own. Or even the exercise book we have pasted many cars and logos into. Not to mention ‘playing’ shapes and sizes as well as introducing him to the words that will no doubt be among the first he is properly able to read.

In fact, the more I learn about cars and the practical uses an interest in them can sustain, the more I reel as I consider that many parents seem to think the learning experience with their young children is merely a one way transaction.
Meanwhile, I am preparing for my imminent education of the various makes and models of motorbikes, trucks, tractors, trains, helicopters and aeroplanes.


© Tiggy Johnson

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem