Playing Helps Learning

When Children Play Freely, They are Learning!

Play is children’s ‘work’.When children are playing, they are learning valuable information.  This poem summarises it:

The Value of Play

Play is fun.
Play comes from within. Children love to play.
Play is an important part of healthy development.
Play is enjoyable and doesn’t need careful planning, or an end result.
Play means active involvement, not just watching.
During play, the child sets the rules, and there is no right or wrong way to play.
During play children practise physical skills and learn about their bodies.
They learn to use their imagination.
They learn about their own feelings and the feelings of others.
They learn about the world around them using all five senses.
Play is the work of children!

Through play children learn:

To explore materials
To be creative
To use language
To share (maybe!)
To make decisions
To test possibilities
To estimate
To concentrate
and so much more!

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Developmental Domains

Developmental Domains

In my work as a Parenting Consultant, I support families in their parenting with through understanding child development, providing activities for them to do with their children, and chatting about the issues which can occur in parenting – bedtime routines, sibling rivalry, fussy eaters etc and we look at possible solutions.

When we look at child development, there are four common areas or domains we look at to ascertain where they are developmentally. They are:

LANGUAGE: Language is communication. Babies communicate through eye contact and watching faces. They also love the sound of your voice. Once they start articulating (the first ooh’s and ahhh’s) they quickly engage in ‘talk’ with you. If you say something to them and then wait, they will respond – they are conversing with you!

They cry to tell you when they need something eg a feed, or they are tired. Parents can learn to effectively respond to this, by learning the Dunstan Baby Language.

Babies soon start babbling, before moving on to more ‘word-like’ sounds (eg ‘bo’ for bottle). Around one babies may have 4 -6 words (such as ‘bo’) they use. The more you talk with them, and label items in their world, the more their brain takes in. Around 2 y.o children are putting 2 words together such as ‘me do’ or ‘Daddy car’. By 3 y.o they are mostly speaking in ‘regular’ sentences, with reasonable clarity.

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What Can I Do When my Child Hurts Another?

I was asked recently, what do you do if your 20 month old hurts a baby for no apparent reason?

Let’s look at what’s happening developmentally around this age…

Language – By about 2 years of age, they can put two words together, have a vocabulary of around 50 words, and speak clearly half of the time.

Intellectually – a two year old uses ‘trial and error’ to attempt things; knows how to utilise objects eg how to use a chair to climb higher; and likes to pull things apart and try to put them together.

Motor Skills – they can climb on things, kick a ball forward and carry a large object while walking.

Social-Emotional development – This is critical to know about, to understand why a child sometimes responds poorly. They have learnt to say ‘no’ to show independence, make choices, and show a wide variety of emotions eg jealousy, sympathy, fear and anger, and that can change suddenly.

So, back to the situation… Read more

Whinging Child

Whinging Kids – What Do I With Them?

Nerida asked via our Facebook page:
What do I do with my whinge-y 2 year old son?

We’ve all had those days as parents where it’s seemed like a battle field at home, with tears and tantrums all around and that can be from the parents as well as the child – when it all gets too much and you want to run away!

The first thing – and this may seem blunt – is to remember that you are the adult here! If you are struggling to deal with this physically and emotionally, and you’re an adult – then imagine how hard it is to feel so overwrought and at 2 you don’t have the capacity to self regulate.

Self regulation is the ability to feel stressed emotionally, and yet be able to manage it rather than lash out, eg when a driver in front of you keeps cutting in, changing lanes without indicating, and is gesturing at you and other drivers. We may feel enraged by this, but generally we’ve learnt that the best thing is to give them space and let them get away. If we react, it may be detrimental! This is self-regulation.

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The Importance of Nurturing Your Baby’s Amazing Brain

Did you know, that when a baby is born, his brain is ½ the size of an adult brain? By the time he is 3 years old, his brain has grown to 80% size of an adult brain. This is incredible growth, in just 3 years.

How does the brain work, and how can we foster this development?

The Working Brain

Within the brain are billions of nerve cells, known as neurons. The neurons have to connect with other brain cells in order to work. Some of these connections are present from birth – for example, the ability to breathe, to suck, to cry, and others occur as the baby grows and develops. The connections occur when experiences or skills are repeated over and over.

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Communicating with Babies – What Parents Need to Know.

Babies begin communicating with us from the moment they are born – it’s just that we may not understand what they are saying yet!

 

It’s interesting isn’t it that if you were going to have an extended holiday in Spain or France, you’d probably make the effort to learn even a few basic words and phrases of Spanish or French. Yet when we are pregnant not many people learn how to communicate with the ‘soon to be here’ baby!

 

I’ve personally seen the huge benefits parents get when they DO learn how to do this, and the spin-off benefits to their baby such as: Read more

Telling Stories

As parents we know of the importance of reading to our children regularly, to encourage our children’s love of learning, and excitement about what books have to offer.

 

We also know that books can be a part of the night time routine, to help settle children down with quiet time before bed.

 

Reading to children is also useful when children have to sit whilst waiting at the Doctors, where they need to be quieter for a while.

 

Children often grow to love stories and books, via our enthusiasm and by the tone of our voice when we read to them.

 

Another thing which children grow to love is when you actually tell them stories. Read more

father playing with son

The Importance of Dads

For a long time now we’ve known the valuable role that mothers play in the development of children, through nurturing and play.

Research is now indicating the powerful role Dad’s play in the family dynamics generally, and in the long term well-being of their children.

The best gift a Dad can give his kids, is his time!

Being a Dad is probably the most important job you’ll ever do. The way you interact and behave with your children will have a huge impact on them – what they do, how they feel about themselves and how they turn out. As with anything that is important to you, being a great Dad requires time, energy and effort!
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Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more