Showing posts from June, 2012

Unlearning – A Process You Can Help Children Avoid

Parents often tell me that they will be using the relaxing summer months to introduce or practice skills with their young children.  When I am asked for tips, I tell parents to remember one basic fact – It takes twice as long to unlearn something as it does to learn it properly the first time.  Consider how that one bit of information impacts how children are taught the following skills:
Toilet Training:  Walk into a bathroom in a home where a toddler lives and you are bound to find a small potty seat.  The potty seat is marketed as a necessary tool in your potty training process.  Consider, however, the brief amount of time that children actually use a small potty seat.  Using that seat is not the goal.  The goal is for your child to use an average size toilet.  The potty seat merely adds a step to the whole process.  If your child is trained to use the small, temporary seat, that skill has to be unlearned and transferred to the average size toilet.  Children learning to potty train …

The Case for Multi-Age, Integrated Early Childhood Classes

As an educator and school director, I am constantly seeking ways to better meet the individual needs of all of the learners in our classrooms.  In every class, we find a variety of learning styles and, in early childhood classes in particular, a variety of developmental levels.  I have researched, attended seminars, spoken to colleagues and learned that the answer is as old as the one room schoolhouse.  Each individual child can best be reached when we acknowledge that more than one developmental level and social ability exists in one age group.  Each child can be reached when more than one level of abilities is taught in one space.
Formal education in this country began in those one room schoolhouses where students of many ages learned in one space.  Students moved ahead based on their individual abilities.  As the country became more populated and more students enrolled in school, that system didn’t work anymore.  Students needed to be divided into smaller groups.  It seemed logica…

Personal Space – Teach Boundaries and Avoid Mixed Messages

Parents and teachers work hard to avoid giving young children mixed messages.  We want them to know that certain behaviors are acceptable all the time and others are not ever acceptable.  We know that before we say no to a request or behavior, we need to be sure that our response will always be the same.  Yet, we often give young children very mixed messages about respect of personal space.
Understanding personal space is an essential non-verbal communication skill.  Children need to learn that every person has a boundary that is “owned.”   Social interactions will be more successful if they do not invade other people’s boundaries without permission.   Unfortunately, very little time is spent actively teaching this important social skill. 
Just as we take time to model manners and teach other socially acceptable behavior, we should work with children to develop an understanding of the proper time and etiquette for entering personal space.   They should also learn that they are allow…

Get Messy! Turn Up The Volume! Bring Sensory Experiences Into Your Home

When children leave preschool with paint in their hair, sand in their shoes or smelling like shaving cream, parents can be assured that it was a successful day full of building knowledge.  Messy, loud, smelly, delicious, eye-catching experiences shouldn’t just take place in preschool.  It is important to include sensory experiences when children play at home, too.  When children aren’t allowed to make a mess, they are deprived of sensory input that helps them to understand their world.
From the time babies are born, they understand their world through their senses.  They look toward new voices and noises.  They react when their milk for formula tastes different.  As soon as they can grasp items, they put them right into their mouths.  Babies need to see, feel, hear, smell and taste literally everything.  It is only adult intervention that begins to change this instinctive behavior.  Babies would learn on their own when they shouldn’t touch something because it is too hot.  They would…

Enter The Egocentric Mind of a Preschooler

Anyone who has raised a preschooler or taken child psychology courses knows that preschoolers are egocentric.  They see the world from only their point of view.  The only things that matter to them are those things that impact them directly.  This egocentric point of view skews the way they look at the world and their capability to react to events and people in it.  As parents and educators, we sometimes wonder what the children are thinking and why they don’t seem to behave in ways that adults expect.  When interacting with preschool age children, always remember: They will only remember things that are important to them.  You can tell a preschooler the same thing over and over.  If it isn't important to them, they will not commit it to memory.  Their ego-centrism is the cause for having to repeat the same directive over and over again.  I was recently outside a store when a child who was running, fell and scraped his knee.  His mother said, “How many times have I told you to wal…