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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in young children
Posted by on in Early Childhood

2e1ax elegantwhite entry raw emotion 1

This isn’t news for any teacher of young children anywhere. We’ve all experienced it. Four-year-old Carter is a good listener, follows the rules (mostly- he’s 4!), and gets along with the other children. Then, at day's end, Mom arrives and a crazy transformation takes place. For Carter, rules are forgotten, as well as his inside voice and gentle touches. Sometimes there’s whining and even crying, with no apparent trigger.

Mom is at once upset and embarrassed, wondering how in the world his teachers have been dealing with this all day long. When she’s told he has been really good up until right now, Mom looks askance in disbelief. But, it’s true. And, instead of letting Mom feel horrible about causing an uproar, the teacher can explain what’s really happening here.

So, the next time she and the teacher have the opportunity to sit down for a minute, there first needs to be some reassurance. This behavior is normal. Really.

“But why is he doing that?” Well, it’s all about the relationship she has with her child. It is how he perceives his mother. She is his safe place… the one who loves him unconditionally, whether well-behaved or out of control. Mom is the one he can bring all his problems to. She’ll take that baggage and make it go away.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

We know that during the first 5 years of life, there is significant brain development. However, some areas of the brain are slower to mature than others. One such area is the prefrontal cortex, which is the center for executive function. This is why young children often have difficulty with emotional and impulse control.

But, some of the features of executive function can be encouraged and groomed, even with preschoolers! These features would include the working or short-term memory, self-regulation of actions, and ability to focus attention. This can be done by means of direct teaching, practice, and support.

Just how important is the development of self-control in the early years? Well, according to research, it carries a load of significance. Preschoolers who are encouraged to exhibit self-regulation are more likely to avoid risky behaviors as adolescents and to experience more success in school.

So, when is a good time to start supporting self-regulation? Preschoolers begin to get a handle on their behavior and emotions between the ages of 3 and 7. Parents and teachers can take advantage of this active stage of brain development and help guide things in the right direction. We can gently push the message that they can focus their attention, interact with their peers in more positive ways, and be better listeners if they think about what they’re doing and purposefully take control of things.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

alg classroom kids

The list of consequences for kids forced to sit too long is a lengthy one. Among other things, sitting is now considered as detrimental to health as is smoking (the human body was built to move!). Research also has shown us that sitting increases fatigue and reduces concentration, neither of which is an optimal condition for learning. And we all know that young children need to physically experience concepts to best understand them. So, when I tell you that too much sitting in classrooms also leads to an inability to master body and spatial awareness, you might think that it’s no big deal, considering the other consequences.

But let’s ponder it. As adults we use our body and spatial awareness to navigate through the world. We can (usually) walk down a crowded sidewalk without bumping into a lamppost, or maneuver our way around trees on a crowded ski slope. We find our way to work and through large shopping malls. We fit our cars into narrow parking spaces or garages and, more importantly, keep our cars from coming into contact with other cars, people, or objects. We understand the social customs that dictate we not be like the “close talker” depicted on an episode of Seinfeld. We understand that some people do not want to be touched. And when a hug or a handshake is appropriate, we’ve learned how strong and how long it should be.

These are lessons that cannot be learned by sitting at a desk. Like so much else in early childhood, body and spatial awareness must be experienced and practiced if they’re to develop fully. When a baby is born, we realize she doesn’t come equipped with a perfectly functioning proprioceptive sense (awareness of her body in space). That’s why we play “I’ve got your nose,” “This Little Piggy,” and knee-bouncing, lifting, and spinning games with her. But when she starts navigating her way through the world via crawling and walking, the only consideration we give to her spatial sense is whether or not she’s going to bang into the coffee table. And if she doesn’t – or doesn’t continually – we take for granted that she’ll be able to successfully navigate her way through the world.

And maybe she will. But we’ve all had children in our classes who line up too closely to one another, and who bump into everyone and everything. We’ve all had children whose desire to “crash and go boom” overrides any respect for personal space. Who hug or tag or poke too hard. Who view themselves as clumsy or uncoordinated and therefore lack confidence in their physical abilities. And many a child has shown up in second or third grade not knowing his elbow from his shoulder, or unable to distinguish the difference between a lowercase “b” and a lowercase “d.”

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Will we ever be able to stop justifying the value of children’s active outdoor play? I think not. This will be an endless push by Early Childhood professionals, as our society continues its march into a technology-driven lifestyle.

I was again reminded of this recently when Rae Pica posted an image of an exercise bike for toddlers… apparently aimed at providing a solitary exercise experience for the child while engaged with a screen. Geesh.

We have to remember that a child develops across multiple domains synchronously. Each impacts the other. The physical benefits of outdoor active play are obvious, but let’s consider some of the social and emotional payoffs. Simply stated, while engaged in this type of play, children form relationships with peers, acquire confidence in their abilities, and learn to express their emotions.

One of the greatest emotional benefits of outdoor active play for young children is having a sense of self-control or competence. Some children have an innate drive to try and master new things and don’t need much encouragement to do so. Others may be hesitant to get involved with new play activities and may even give up easily. Later, this may translate to giving up easily on academic tasks, too. It’s critical, then to support their motivation and confidence to master new skills.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

thinking

This list may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many teachers can become oblivious, in the midst of life in the classroom. Let’s take time to think about some of these things we should probably stop doing immediately…

repeating

1. Repeating Yourself. Getting into the habit of expecting a response or reaction after a first request is critical to classroom management. This ties into consistency, so children will quickly learn that when you say something the first time, there will only be a first time. A second time will mean some sort of natural consequence. It only takes your smart children a short time to learn your MO and to respond accordingly. I know. Taking the time to follow through every single time is difficult, especially when we’re busy. But trust me... The effort put forth is far easier than what will undoubtedly happen as a result of slacking here. Many times one of those results is #2…

listening

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