Friday, September 30, 2011

September 2011

Here I am!!! Sorry it's been a bit since I posted. has started, fall has arrived, the weather is changing and what can we do to stimulate some language ???

I hope that you stocked up on school supplies when they went on sale. Crayons and glue sticks and paper and 3 ring binders...yup, I have ideas for all of these.

1. With the 3 ring binder (and some page protectors) I want you to make a "book" of your child's favorite things. Pull out some old magazines and cut out pictures of things and people your child likes. Check the ads in the magazines, you will find pictures of food that children like ( fish crackers; mac and cheese; juice boxes; cookies.) You will also find ad's for children's TV shows (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, for example). You will find pictures of cars and trucks and motorcycles and trains, if your child is into vehicles. Or you could cut out pictures of faces with different expressions (crying, laughing, smiling, yawning, etc.) And don't forget to put some pictures of actions like walking or jumping or swinging. Once your have found some pictures that are meaningful to your child, pull out the glue sticks and have your child help you glue them to construction paper. While you are gluing you can model "push" or "go go" when you are rubbing the glue on. You can talk about "up and down" when you rub the glue on the top and bottom. Then place the picture on the paper and "boom boom " or "pat pat" the picture onto the paper. Encourage your child to pat or hammer with their hand the picture on the paper. Then slide the picture into the page protector, put the pages into the 3 ring binder and "ta da" you have a wonderful book your child can "read" to others. They will take pride in their book as well as want to talk about the pictures.

2. Paper. A simple piece of paper can become a wonderful language stimulation tool. You can crunch it and make it into a "ball" that you throw; kick; "go up"; "go down"; etc. You can throw it "in and out" or you can make a basket with a laundry basket. You can make it into a paper airplane and "one, two, three, go" you can throw it inside and out. You can use this activity to take turns and build anticipation. There is a fantastic video on YouTube of a dad that holds a piece of paper out to his baby boy and the child rips the paper and basically falls over laughing. It's a wonderful example of turn taking and reading your child. Trying something that simple can "pop" language. You entice your child by holding out the paper. The child pulls the paper, it rips and the sound makes everyone laugh. Before the child gets to try it again (and they will want to try) wait for them to indicate, in some way that they want another turn. It can be by looking or reaching their hand out to get the paper. It can be looking at the paper and laughing. However your child shows you they want a turn, you accept that and then continue the turn (plus model a word or phrase to go with that turn.)

3. Crayons. I know that they can be messy, so set up the area where you are going to let your child color before you let them loose. Think about putting a big piece of paper on the garage wall and let them color on that. Or tape a big piece on the floor or on the driveway and color out there. Be aware of the questions that you want to ask but your child can't answer; "what color is that? What did you draw?" Remember to keep modelling instead of quizzing, "you are coloring with blue, round and round and round. I like how you went up, up up, with the color." Describe what they are doing and feeling more than expecting it to "be" a picture.

With so much focus on school during September, I want to share some important information about your young child. If your child is 3 or under (and sometimes 5 and under) you need to focus less on things that are basically academic (like colors, numbers, letters, shapes) and focus more on relationships with family and peers. When a child is young, they are not supposed to be able to tell you what color something is, or what shape something is or be able to count and do the alphabet. A baby should not read, honest :) I know that there is the program out there to convince you that your baby should be reading. Here's the problem I have with that. Even if your baby starts to recognize a word and can label it, for example "dog", do they understand "dogness???" For example, have they touched a dog, heard a dog bark, smelled a dog, smelled a wet dog, had a dog lick them, touched their fur, heard their nails click on the floor??? Once they have interacted with a dog they "get" what a dog is all about and then they can connect the word "dog" with the object. It is meaningful to them. But saying "dog" when the word is flashed on a screen is not the same as understanding all about dogs. To me it's skipping a bunch of developmental steps for your child.

Our society is pushing academics, earlier and earlier but that is not developmentally appropriate. Young children learn from playing with toys, interacting with people, exploring nature, trying new foods and having fun. Our job as the adults in their lives is to expose them to different things and activities and then let them explore it their way and build on their interests instead of worrying about academics. When a child is ready, the academics come easily and it's fun. But pushing a child to quickly will cause frustration and even delay those skills from developing because it's just too hard.

Remember to relax and enjoy your child for who they are and what their interests are. Build on that and you can't go wrong.

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