EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for April 2010

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Here’s a typical conversation in the car at the end of a preschooler‘s day:

Parent: “What did you do in school today?”
Child: “Nothing.” (This is if there is a response at all.)
Parent: “Did you play games?”
Child: “No.”
Parent: “Did you sing songs? Read stories..?”
Child: “No.”
Parent: “What did you have for lunch?”
Child: “We didn’t have lunch.”

If you choose to continue this “conversation,” many times the questions will change, but the response doesn’t get much better.

Why is this typical?

Preschool children are very concrete thinkers. They are often “in the moment” and need time and prompts to help them recall and verbalize past events and activities. At times preschoolers won’t connect the language they are confident in with the spoken responses needed. If young children don’t think the question is important and they really don’t know why they are expected to answer it, they won’t. This isn’t because they are bold or defiant. This is because they are young.

Other times preschoolers are able to give detailed accounts of a movie or cartoon that they watched last week. They can tell you where the slide is in a neighborhood playground, the number of cheese slices you put on their sandwich or who sat next to them at snack time. Preschoolers can dig out a favorite truck from a toy box after you have looked for it all day and sing every verse to a favorite song. This isn’t because they are brilliant. This is because they are young.

As adults, we become used to questions being answered and we are used to answering question asked of us. Children need time and patience for this skill to develop. They are just figuring this entire system out and they are looking to important adults as role models.

What can you do about it?

Consider — Does your child have the language needed to answer questions confidently? When a question is asked, are they looking at you and paying attention? Does your voice tone and body gesture welcome all responses? Connecting a question to something meaningful to the child often gets attentive responses. Do you answer your child when she asks you a question?

Change it up — Ask open ended questions. These invite more than one word answers for more information. “Tell me about lunch today.” “I love it when we sing your school songs..tell me about singing with the kids today.” “I saw a green frog on the reading table when I picked you up! I wonder what he was doing in school.” “There are children on the playground now. What was your favorite part of being outside today?”

Collect information from the school. — Be sure you have on-going, positive connections to your child’s classroom (in all grades). How does your child’s teacher/program/school inform families of the child’s activities and skill development? Be aware of written notices on parent boards or internet access to school themes and lessons. Use this as a spring board for conversations between you and your child.

The way you communicate and connect with your child is such an important part of their social development. Actively listen to what they have to say, and respond to them when they ask you questions in return. Cherish the talks you have with your little ones and work hard to learn about their daily routines.

Make learning fun!
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

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Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Thinking games are a great way to teach your children while still having fun! Take advantage of any opportunity to play games and spend quality time with your children.

Here’s our list of fun and easy games to play for children 4 and up:

I Spy With My Little Eye!

  • Decide on an area (the kitchen, backyard, bedroom…) and say “I spy with my little eye something…”
  • Give a hint. The younger the child, the more obvious the hints. For example: “a fruit that is yellow that a monkey eats!”
  • Keep giving hints until the guesser is correct.
  • Switch roles! Older children enjoy the challenge of more difficult hints.

I’m Thinking of Something That…!

  • Close your eyes and talk through something familiar to the players, for example: a farm, a jungle, or the grocery store.
  • Open your eyes and say “I’m thinking of something that…” Use descriptors, sounds and actions that will help guessers figure it out!
  • Switch roles! Make it complex for older children.

We Went On a Picnic! Great game for the car!

This is typically a game for children who are comfortable with alphabetical order, but keep the younger ones playing by using common objects!

  • Player 1: We went on a picnic and I brought apples!
  • Player 2: We went on a picnic and I brought bananas!
  • Player 3: We went on a picnic and I brought cookies, and so on.
  • Older children have to repeat each picnic item before they add their addition.
  • Younger children can simply name an item beginning with the current letter: We went on a picnic and I brought a hat…I brought a jacket…I brought sneakers, etc.

Find It First!

  • Look through a catalog, poster, or magazine with your children.
  • Stop on a page and discuss the picture.
  • Everyone closes their eyes while you open your hand to cover the page.
  • Open your eyes and think about what was on the page.
  • Call “Find It First!” Find the objects in the picture (umbrella, boots, blue car, etc.)
  • The first one to point to and cover the called object chooses the next call!

It’s Gone!

  • Gather a few basic objects about the same size (a spoon, comb, marker, ruler, toy snake.)
  • Talk about each one as you put them together on a table or flat surface.
  • Tell children to close their eyes and think about what they just saw on the table.
  • Quietly take one object off and hide it while you are talking.
  • Children open their eyes as you say “Oh no! It’s Gone!”
  • Have the children guess what is missing. Keep going until all objects are hidden.
  • Children have to name all of the hidden objects before they can be returned to the table.
  • When playing with older children, use many objects or things that may not have anything in common.

I’ll Take That Letter!

This is a very tricky game of sounds older children enjoy!

  • Player #1 says her name as #2 listens for the last sound and has to say a word that starts with that sound
  • Player #3 says a word that starts with the first sound of the last word, and #4 Says a word that starts with the Last sound of that word…
  • Keep going!

HAVE FUN WITH THINKING GAMES!

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

My husband and I went to a very casual neighborhood restaurant for dinner recently. Tables were filled with different aged patrons, groups of young people and families with children. It was a typical evening.

A table near us “opened” and a family of four came in and sat down. There was an adult man, a woman and two girls who looked to be pre-teen or young teenagers. No one spoke to each other. Both girls and one of the adults were attentive to handheld devices. The other adult opened an envelope and read papers. There was a brief pause with ordering but they all went back to their own interests quickly.

Walking down the street, at sporting events and even sitting next to each other, adults, teenagers and children who are quite young (7-8 years old) are constantly talking or texting on handheld devices. This does not require eye contact with another person. It does not offer casual cues we learn to associate with messages (shrugged shoulders, raised eyebrows, smirks and smiles). There is no needed exchange of live person-to-person ideas. Print does not include physical contact or voice inflection.

What is the model provided to young children who are just trying to figure out how to connect with others? How should they manage their own interactions in a group? How do they initiate and maintain relationships? A conversation is a give and take that includes body as well as voice.

Young children need you – personally.

They need to listen to your voice and watch the way you manage your face and body to convey messages to others. How close do you stand next to someone? Why do you laugh near someone and how does that change your body? What do you do when someone near you is sad? What does it mean when your voice is soft, loud, squeaky or silly?

Your child is watching you. When I look at you or you look at me, I know we are connected. When you ask me a direct question and there is a space for my answer, it lets me know you are interested in what I say. We can take turns talking. When I don’t have to wait for you to hang up or finish texting, or turn something off, I know you think I’m important. When you hold my hand, I know we belong to each other.

Life is fast. We are completely surrounded by astonishing technology. Competition is real and change is swift. These are facts.

But these facts truly pale in comparison to how quickly the baby in the crib is asking for car keys and the toddlers in the sandbox are off to school. Don’t miss this time with your little one. You’ll never get it back.

Find a balance. Make it personal.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

If you could use a helping hand in the kitchen, ask your child to pitch in. Children love feeling important and learning new things (especially when it doesn’t seem like a chore). Although cooking and baking in the kitchen may seem regular and boring to you, to a child it is a new frontier full of wonder and things to learn!

Children of different ages can help with various things in the kitchen:

Age 2: Have them help with pouring ingredients and taste-testing!

Age 3: They can bring ingredients from the fridge and shelf to the counter, stir and mix ingredients.

Age 4+: Let them help chop ingredients (with close supervision, of course) and help dish out the meal.

Older children: Give them the responsibility of more important tasks such as measuring and setting the oven.

By helping out in the kitchen, children will…

  • Learn about nutrition and increase their willingness to try a new food
  • Develop valuable self-help skills and increase independence
  • Develop math concepts through counting, measuring, timing, and ordering events
  • Work cooperatively with others
  • Develop reading skills, recognizing symbols and words
  • Learn to follow directions and complete all the steps necessary to finish a task
  • Explore the world’s foods and learn about the customs of people from around the world
  • Learn science concepts: temperature, volume, how something can change when it is heated, etc.
  • Improve fine motor control through using hand muscles
  • Express themselves creatively

Regardless of the task at hand, your child will gain a sense of pride as your family enjoys the meal they helped create!


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