Image by Miika Silfverberg via Flickr

4 Types of Music your Child Needs

Music for babies begins when you first coo to them, or when you are rocking them to sleep whilst humming, or singing a quiet, gentle lullaby. Babies have even heard your music in utereo, including the ‘music’ of your beating heart!

 

Parents often sing little songs or rhymes to them whilst changing their nappy or bathing them – reciting ‘This little piggy went to market’ or entertaining a young child with ‘Round and round the garden’, on their hand. Music is such a great connecting mechanism between the parent and child. Music provides comfort, familiarity, physical closeness, anticipation and often laughter.

 

There are four components to music: singing, listening, dancing and playing.

Here’s how you can help your child to learn….

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8 ways to enjoy messy play at home

8 Ways to Enjoy Messy Play at Home

How many of you breath a sigh of relief, when the Playgroup or Kindergarten your child attends does Messy Play – I mean it gets you off the hook right? No paint at home, no playdough on the carpet, no glue stuck to the table – phew!

Have you ever asked yourself, why the Playgroup teacher/ co-ordinator seems to be so keen on providing messy play for the children?

Educators know that children learn through all their senses, of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. We aim to provide activities which stimulate the senses – know as Sensory Play. Messy play is one type of sensory play.

It is particularly important for young children’s development, as it allows them to explore a variety of mediums; to develop their tactile skills; and in some cases also their fine motor muscles. It also allows an opportunity for language development (words such as rough, smooth, crunchy, cold, slimy etc) and for the child to expand their thinking skills.

Sensory activities facilitate exploration, and encourage children to learn while they play, create, investigate and explore the materials provided.

Here are some easy Messy Play activities to do at home to assist your child to grow and learn even more: Read more

Teaching your Child to Use Scissors

Three year olds can cut using scissors. If you have a three year old child, you know they are fascinated with scissors and their potential to cut anything and everything from paper to clothing and hair!

 

Using scissors requires a lot of skill and fine motor development, and these start to develop well before the age of three.

 

How do you help your child develop the muscles in their hands?

Anything which involves squeezing or pinching type actions will be good, for example:

  • Squeezing the water out of bath tub sponges;
  • Rolling, flattening and shaping playdough;
  • Pinching clothes pegs open;
  • Using small tongs to pick up pieces of salad, or small items such as pompoms;
  • Using an eye dropper with coloured water in to drop onto paper;
  • Squeezing water out of empty, clean plastic bottles and;
  • Using a plant mister with a trigger action.

 

Regular play as above will strengthen the small muscles in their hands, ready for scissors and writing. Read more

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

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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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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Movement at All Ages and Stages

I remember the first time I visited an indoor play centre with my toddler. Although I did not like the idea of an indoor play centre after the third day of rain I was willing to give anything a try. House bound boys have a lot of energy, so off to the indoor play centre we went.

The first thing that struck me was how loud it was in there. Kids were laughing and talking and excited to be there. Indoor play centres are bright and cheery places where kids can run, crawl, scoot, jump, leap, slither and slide and get buried in balls. So can mums. For the mother it is a wonderful well rounded, whole body functional workout (see what I did there – I used all the words the latest and greatest exercise routines use). I recall feeling absolutely bone weary after 2 hours of following my child!

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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