Friday, March 2, 2018

March- Learning Through Play

Learning Through Play

Play, according to Webster’s dictionary, is  recreational activity; especially : the spontaneous activity of children. This means, it is unstructured and derived from the interest of the child. A mis-conception to a lot of people is that play is just children having fun. While this is very true they are learning a tremendous amount that will help to develop skills that will assist in their future approaches to learning.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has created a list of five essentials to make play meaningful.
  1. Children make their own decisions.
  2. Children are intrinsically motivated
  3. Children become immersed in the moment
  4. Play is spontaneous
  5. Play is enjoyable
Allowing children to to play allows them to use skills in all developmental areas. Parents can engage children by asking questions, which is an important part of language development in young children. Describing what they are doing, asking them what they are doing, and asking them about what they are going to do next foster the development of critical thinking skills. Play also allows children to use their imagination and lets them use their creativity blossom. Play enhances social skills and stimulates the brain in young developing children. So while play may seem simple, it is crucial in the development of young learners.

Friday, February 2, 2018

February: Teaching Empathy

February: Teaching Empathy

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The ability to understand and relate to someone’s emotions allows people to make a deeper connection. But how do you teach young egocentric children empathy? You can start by talking about emotions. Making sense of your own emotions help build an understanding of where feelings come from. There are many children’s books available on the topic of emotions.
Dr. Michele Borba, author of “Unselfie: Why empathetic kids succeed in our All-About-Me World,” discusses four steps to discussing feelings with your child:
  1. Stop and tune in. -We are often so distracted by the busy world around us, but we need to stop and put our phones away and talk to our children.
  2. Look face-to-face. Good eye contact shows someone you are actually listening. Even small children. Get down on their level, sit on the floor with them while you are talking to them.
  3. Focus on feelings. Give your child a chance to talk about their feelings. Model phrases like “ I feel    when .” Give them different examples of emotions they might be feeling. Point out things you notice to them; such as, “I notice your face looks angry, are you upset about something?” Give them a chance to express their feelings.
  4. Express your feelings. Giving language to feelings and modeling that to your child will be an important first step in their ability to express their own emotions.

Tuning in to your child, discussing emotions, and  modeling how to handle your emotions is the first step to raising empathetic children.

Friday, January 12, 2018


January- Transitions

Transitions in preschool can be very challenging and stressful for both the child and adult. It is important to remember to keep transitions to a minimum and also to provide children with clear expectations. One of the best ways to help make transitions smooth is by providing children with a warning. They are often times engaged in an activity and stopping to move on to a new activity can be disruptive. So providing a warning that this is going to happen will hopefully help minimize behaviors. For example, “In five minutes we are going to stop and clean up for circle time.” This allows children time to finish what they are working on and prepare for what is coming next. It is important to make sure you stick to the time frame and directions given.
Another way to help young children transition is to make it fun. One way to do this might be to play a clean up song or sing a song. Other ways to make transitions fun might include using different movements. For example, maybe your child is avoiding going to bed. After they brush their teeth try having them hop or crawl to bed pretending to be an animal. You might also try using counting. For example, you want your child to stop playing and come to the table for dinner. You would provide them with a warning and then when time is up you ask them to count how many steps they have to take to get to the dinner table.
Transitions occur throughout the day so keeping these strategies in mind will help make things smoother for the child and adult. For more creative ideas how to make transitions fun check out Pinterest!

Friday, January 5, 2018


The Child Mind Institute breaks down the many causes of aggression in children. Some of the causes include mood disorders, psychosis, frustration, impulsivity, conduct disorder, injury, and trauma. It is important to understand where a child’s aggression is coming from before you can treat it. The most common type of aggression found in children ages 4 and 7 is hostile aggression. Hostile aggression can be shown as overt aggression, which entails physical harm or as relational aggression, which entails damaging peer relationships or spreading rumors. Some children will move beyond aggressive behavior and learn how to handle conflict. For those children that continue to use physical aggression there are some steps that caregivers can take to teach young children that violence and aggression are unacceptable.
Caregivers should not model violent or aggressive behavior in front of young children. This includes responding to a child engaging in aggressive behavior. It is important to stay calm and talk to the young children about the inappropriate behavior. This conversation should take place in a calm voice, as soon as the child is calm, and be short and direct about expectations of appropriate behavior.

Parents who find themselves in a violent, dangerous, or abusive relationship can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to reach The National Domestic Violence Hotline, for crisis help, safety planning, or referrals to local resources.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November-Emotional Development

November: Emotional Development

“Children are developing their social and emotional skills in early childhood. This influences their mental health and wellbeing, now and in the future.”-Kids Matter

Interactions with adults and caregivers impact the emotional development of small children. Emotional development entails the understanding of feelings and emotions and how to handle them. Children who grasp a variety of emotions and how to handle them are more likely to stay calm and grow into confident, curious learners. Adult interactions with children and their emotions play a large role in this process. Visit the link below to view the chart of examples on how to interact positively with your child when it comes to expressing emotions.

Developing a strong emotional skill set have shown to have an impact on social interactions and performance in school. Emotions impact our attention, memory, and learning; our ability to build relationships with others; and our physical and mental health (Salovey & Mayer 1990). Developing this skill set helps children to not be consumed with emotions when they unexpectedly occur. When discussing emotions with children it is important to know that both positive and not so positive emotions should be discussed so that children understand that all emotions are worth discussing.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October-Setting Boundaries/Limits

Having a set of boundaries and limits in the home provide young children with a sense of safety. Young children may not voice this but they actually crave expectations and stability. Understanding how to create age appropriate boundaries will help you to be successful with following through with them. First, children who feel loved and valued are more likely to accept corrections. I know it is hard with busy schedules and multiple children in the same house but carving out one on one time with be very beneficial to being successful with setting boundaries and limits. Setting boundaries and limits help preschool age children to practice self-control. Children this age are egocentric so this can be challenging but understanding that we do not always get what we want when we want it can be difficult for young children. Sometimes we have to say no to children but try giving an explanation. For example, If you child asks to go to the park today but it is raining; instead of simply responding with “no”, you might say “ we cannot go to the park today because it is raining but we can go another time when it is not raining.” Keep in mind that you want to be able to follow through with your response so avoid responding with unrealistic outcomes.
Keep in mind when setting boundaries or limits at home that you must be clear and consistent. Young children do not always do well with abrupt change so giving warning before something happens is very helpful. If you have to leave for school, a doctor’s appointment, or just to run errands give you child a warning. “In two minutes we have to stop and go to school.” this allows your child processing time. Using a timer for this is great. That way you do not forget and it gives the child a signal that it is time to stop. Once the two minutes are up or the timer goes off simply say “ Two minutes are up, it is time to go. We can play when we come home.” Keeping things simple and positive will have you in a consistent routine with boundaries in no time! For more information on how to set boundaries or limits at home visit the websites below.

Friday, September 8, 2017

September-Setting Home Rules/Expectations

Setting Home Rules/Expectations

Having a set of home rules/expectations for children helps to create a safe and trusting environment. Rules and expectations should be simple, clear, and placed somewhere in the house that can be seen on a regular basis. Try engaging your child in the process of coming up with the list of home rules. Involving children in the process of coming up with the rules/expectations makes them feel more responsible; therefore, more likely to follow them.  Keep in mind your child’s age and ability level.  You want to set them up for success not failure. Some examples of rules/expectations at home might be:
  • We brush our teeth before bed.
  • We pick up our toys when we are done playing.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper or laundry basket.
  • During meal time we stay safe in our seat.
It is important to be consistent with the rules/expectations. If your child responds negatively to one of the house rules/expectations simply remind them of why you came up with those rules. For example:
Child: “I do not want to brush my teeth before bed!!!”
Adult: “Remember we have to take care of our teeth by brushing them every night.”
The benefits to having rules/expectations at home are endless! Having rules/expectations help your child to have a calm environment, makes you an active leader as opposed to a reactive leader in the home, and provide structure. They help your child develop long term traits such as being independent, responsible, and caring for things and people. As your child grows you can adapt the house rules/expectations.

For more information regarding this topic visit the links below.