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Posted by on in Early Childhood

It’s right in your face, 24/7… terrorist attacks, shootings, disasters, accidents, and violence. This can be upsetting for adults, not to mention children.

Last week I couldn’t turn on any screen without seeing the eye-witness phone video of a state fair ride in a neighboring state, breaking apart and hurling riders to the ground. I remember gasping the first time I saw it, kind of surprised to see such graphic coverage on network television. But, as I thought about it more, I realized this was what we are all coming to expect from the news. Later that day, I met my neighbor and her daughter while walking my dogs. Little Megan was so excited to tell me she was going to the fair with Mommy and Daddy. She quickly added, “But we can’t ride on that one ride that broke and people got dead.” Her mother shared that unfortunately, Megan had also seen that video.

When I was growing up, most news coverage was in the newspaper and often a day old. There were grainy photos and copy I was yet unable to read. Television coverage consisted of some film and still photos taken by journalists. Today, everyone is a photojournalist, capturing news as it happens on their phones and there it is… in real time, on the big screen, in living color, and largely uncensored.

You could argue we are much better informed, but this has come at a cost to young children. They just don’t have the ability to comprehend news events in context. It becomes a barrage of disturbing images, voices, and information they can’t fully process. And, many times, parents aren’t around to help them process it at all.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

If we look back in history, children were once taught by sitting alongside those who were skilled at something, participating in active learning. This type of pedagogy was aligned more closely with the nature of young children.

apprentice

They are, after all, born learners. They may be easily distracted and unpredictable and diverse, but they all have a natural drive to investigate, unravel mysteries, process information, and try out new ideas… the very things that move our human species ahead.

As time went on, however, an education system was created to feed the needs of the industrial age and children were taught a narrow set of skills. They were moved through the system like raw materials in a manufacturing process… pushing them towards an expected end product.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Anyone who has young children, teaches them, or has spent time with one knows that “Why?” is their master question. Once it starts, there’s no stopping it. Although adults do their best to come up with answers, the interrogation becomes an endless loop. When one question is answered, the next one comes right on its heels. And yet another and then another.

painful

Soon, the adult feels like there’s no escape. He looks for a way out… changing the subject or pointing out something new. But then the new direction triggers a renewed barrage of “Why’s.” Geesh. This can be tiresome. Nonetheless, it is incredibly important for children. New connections are being made in their brains at an astounding rate. They are trying to figure things out and understand how things work. They’re not only learning, but learning about how to learn.

Research tells us that children have a curious, scientific drive from the very beginning, even before birth. Those of us who have spent time around toddlers and preschoolers have seen them behave like little investigators. They are curious and observant, using all their senses to soak up information. When something new or unexpected happens or when they figure something out, they just light up.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

bedtime

So, adults generally agree on the importance of children’s intellectual development. Throughout the day, we are creating a multitude of opportunities for learning, both intentional and unintentional. Helping a child expand his mind and grow cognitively is essential, but so is something else- developing his character and supporting his social/emotional development. Oh, my. There’s a tall order.

In our day-to-day, multitasking, so-much-on our-plate society, adults often have trouble taking a moment to reflect on how they themselves are handling their own emotions and social interactions, let alone someone else’s. But, you better believe that children are watching it all and learning from us… the good, the bad, and often, the ugly.

We must be more intentional about cultivating the things that will ultimately help children to be better human beings- the way they treat other people, the tone and attitude they will someday use in their own homes, the way they will handle their relations with family, and the way they will engage with their communities.

Well, now. That’s easier said than done. And, when during a family’s busy day, can this best be accomplished? Experts say there are three specific times that have the best potential for a meaningful connection between parent and child… in the first 15 minutes after a child gets home from school, at the family dinner table, and just before bed.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

soccer ball

Generally speaking, most parents can’t wait to get their young children into activities. They want to do something that’s out of the house or outdoors. They’re anxious to find out what their child’s talents might be and signing them up for a team seems like a good first step in that direction.

But, there are a few things to consider before paying that enrollment fee and piling everyone in the car.

First, be sure the activity is specifically geared to 3 to 5-year-olds. Some are more for 5’s and 6’s. In other words, all pee wee soccer teams are not what parents might expect. They need to take the time to watch a session and observe the set-up and coaching. Is it highly structured and regimented, with the emphasis on performance and winning? Or, is it more like fun running games while learning some very basic skills?

Parents should remember that an active 3-year-old is not going to look like any kind of athlete. He is typically a bundle of unorganized energy, with an amazing inability to follow directions, pay attention, or listen.

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