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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in child development

Posted by on in Learning Games
Playing With A Purpose Reboot! For those of you who did not catch the educational videos that we posted in 2017, here's another page to find Kirby's "Playing With A Purpose"! Find many creative ideas to get children leaping ahead in their physical development, all while done with things found at home. This is the time to take a minute to watch these and strengthen your options while stuck at home. Enjoy!...
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Posted by on in Parenting
Helping Children with Fear A Rule of Thumb: Take children's fear as a very real event for them, even if what they are afraid of doesn't exist (e.g. a monster under the bed). A monster may not be real; but the fear is. In looking at the brain developing according to age, a preschooler does not have the logic of an adult. Therefore, using logic to talk them out of their fears will not work. This is where compassion and comfort come in. For instance, in the scenario of walking across a slotted bridge with narrow cracks, as long as a child can see through the cracks, they think they will fall through. (Some children may be oblivious to this.) An appropriate response when the child is afraid would be to pick them up and carry them, not try to reason with them about the slots. In very non-scientific terms, this is what happens when...
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Posted by on in Character Training
Lying Sometimes children lie -- because they're afraid.  Sometimes children lie because they have become afraid of the person they are lying to.  If you think your child is experimenting with lying, begin by writing down every time you observe it happen. What situation did it appear in? What brought it about? You can also keep a chart. You may begin to discern patterns. When you address the child, if they respond with an expression of "I don't care" or of simply not caring to try to be truthful, try backing away a bit to see if something else is going on. Sometimes tweaking the way we correct a situation may help.  Is the child understanding? Sometimes children have a slower processing of words.  Is the child afraid?  Is the child holding their emotions in? In thinking about the discipline, it is not about becoming more harsh. It is more often about...
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Kirby's Notes on "The Developing Person Through the Lifespan," by Kathleen Berger 9 personality characteristics that parents can notice within the first few months of a baby's life: Activity Level Rhythmicity -- predictable schedule Approach/Withdrawl when presented with something new Adaptability (similar to Rhythmicity) -- how they adjust to change/disruption to routine Intensity of Reaction -- how strongly they respond (smile/whimper vs chortle/howl) Threshold of Responsiveness -- sensitivity to stimuli, e.g. wet nappy, whether right away or after some exposure Quality of Mood -- happy a lot vs unhappy a lot Distractibility -- how easily they stop fussing with distraction vs not distractible/very focused Attention Span -- playing with one toy for a long time vs moving on quickly This list is to whet your appetite for further reading. Check out the book at your local library. Berger suggests that children can be stretched in the following 5 of the 9 categories: 1, 3, 6, 8, 9.    ...
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Posted by on in Cognitive Development
Three Rules for Development Have you given up on your New Year's resolution already? Here are three rules for you and your children as you attempt growth and development together.   Rule 1: Break it down into doable steps. The Montessori model is an excellent example of this.  For example, in teaching a sport in which you hit something with an instrument in your hand -- baseball, racket sports, paddle sports, etc. -- there are steps.  The same rule applies to adults who are trying to break a habit. Break it down into doable steps. Want to lose weight? Figure out various steps, each of which can be done.    Rule 2: Start easy. We don't start teaching the alphabet by giving the child all 26 letters at once. Teach one letter, celebrate, move on. In learning matching games, start with one pair. Increase.  Note: We all need encouragement, no matter what age. The experience...
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Posted by on in Physical Development
Balance Boosting Bonanza   In an earlier article on gross motor development, we focused on the upper body as the development stages go from the head down (and the core outward). Today, we would like to revisit gross motor early intervention with a focus on strengthening balance. This is a task that can easily be accomplished in the small moments of daily routine such as while waiting - give the child the challenge to stand on one foot, switch feet, put arms out to the side to help them balance, etc.   We have touched on this topic before in the blog so we'll put some links as well as some additional ideas here for you: put a long piece of yarn on the rug making straight lines, then curvy lines along with more ideas listed under pretend balance beams using large steps and small steps (more difficult) have the child make their own design (spiral?) from...
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More Ways to Strengthen Finger Muscles   As mentioned previously, children today are learning to type but their hands aren't strong enough to write or do other tasks like being able to eat without spilling on themselves which is a skill that requires hand strength and coordination. People want and need to write legibly and quickly. Arts and crafts, the playing of musical instruments, cooking, measuring....all parts of life require finger strength.     Here is a list of some ways to build finger strength: climbing trees or jungle gyms folding clothes (make a matching game out of the socks) crawl through toy tunnels or cardboard box tunnels pretend to be animals and crawl around sweep with a child-size broom wash the car (or make a car wash tunnel with a garbage bag cut into strips - this can also be seaweed that they can crabwalk through on the ocean floor) cooking! stir, knead, cut, roll play with...
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Fine Motor Progression: Developing Small Muscles The most common use of fine motor muscles today may be learning to use a keyboard which is a wonderful skill to have but has the touchscreen surpassed that, or voice commands? We urge you to not forget to work on the development of finger and hand muscles in your wee ones. There is a fine motor progression we will follow to give you a better idea of how to work your way into this. In all of these activities, it is important for the adult to participate with the child in the activity before letting them do it on their own while the adult is involved in something else nearby. At around the age of six months or as soon as they can sit up, sit them next to the drawer where the plasticware is kept and let them take everything out and put it back in again. This will...
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Strengthening the Large Muscles aka Gross Motor Early Intervention Strengthening large muscle groups (gross motor skills) helps with balance, strength, eye-hand coordination, eye-foot coordination, and overall body coordination (proprioception). This can be done in many ways and starting from an early age. It is important to help your child learn to be aware of where there body is in space. As we go through some techniques to developing these skills, there is a general guideline to remember: Children develop from the head down and from the center of the body outward...the head develops before the feet and the shoulders before the hands. In all of these things it is important to remember to never tease a child by calling them a clutz. Even if they have these tendencies, early intervention can help with that. From early on, eye-hand coordination can be developed with the use of a mylar balloon hanging from above (on a mobile, etc.) so that the child can watch it....
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Meeting Learning Challenges Head On Does your gene pool have learning challenges in the mix: ADD/ADHD/autism/dyslexia? Studies of children diagnosed with autism show that early intervention has helped to the point that the autism was undetectable. There are also early intervention techniques for physical challenges. Almost any problem that presents itself in childhood can be helped if we work with the child in fun and helpful ways. Involving as many senses as possible in the learning process including physical activities is a key factor. If the body can move while learning, by the time a child is school-age the brain will have made all kinds of new connections. Maria Montessori, the first female doctor in 19th century Italy, saw children labelled "mentally retarded" and believed they could learn. She broke everything down into small components and taught using the body through doing activities that laid the groundwork for math, language, and all other learning. After Montessori...
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Growing Families: Avoiding Sibling Rivalry Working toward avoiding sibling rivalry is really teaching a life skill. As your family grows, there are ways to prepare older children for the arrival of the newest addition and to get them through the toddler years when baby becomes a little explorer. It is important to be truthful when preparing the older sibling for the arrival of a younger sibling. Try to avoid saying something that would be confusing like, "the baby will be so much fun to play with!" The baby won't be playing with anyone for a while. More helpful things to say might be, "We will need to be gentle with the baby's tiny little hands. I could use your help at bathtime. Would you like to wash her feet?" When baby comes, teach the older child how to hold the baby explaining how to support the head. Sit with them and read a story together.  The older...
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Finding Focus: Ways to Increase Attention Span The development of the ability for delayed gratification can be done from an early age. Increasing one's attention span will eventually affect many aspects of life from saving money to controlling a temper or facing temptation to do the wrong thing. It is important to start at the beginning. The fact is the younger the age, the shorter the attention span. Infants have needs that should be met immediately. They need to know that their needs will be taken care of and this is exactly where they should be at developmentally. Toddlers have enough ability to wait with distraction or accept help to accomplish the thing for which they're waiting. Preschoolers can be stretched to increase their ability to wait with some help. If you're curious where your child's attention span is at, try this little test... Place a raisin or M&M under a cup making sure your child sees what...
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Posted by on in Parenting
Travelling with Littles Travelling with children can be a special time, even on a road trip! The kids have the potential to triple their vocabulary on a week-long car trip if that's what is chosen to work on. Relationships among family members can improve with interactive car games. Whether infant, toddler, or early elementary, littles can have fun and leap ahead in cognitive development and fine motor skills while en route to your holiday destination. While technology is a very handy tool to have when travelling, make sure your children are not on their devices the whole travel time. Pack a backpack/travel bag per child that they may fill with their travel treasures. Elementary age children can usually make independent choices on what to leave and what is important to bring. This may include dolls (with add-ins of ribbons, pieces of fabric, etc.) that would be useful for making up stories so be sure...
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Posted by on in Cognitive Development
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Children tend to not handle change well. Their brain has trouble shifting gears, similar to a railway car in need of assistance to shift tracks. Some children are better with change than others. This is based on personality or temperament. But regardless of their personality or temperament, there are ways we can help our children learn to deal with life’s inevitable challenges that come with change.       They need routines. If you can have a fairly stable routine (e.g. “This is what we do at this time of day…”), children tend to relax and exhale at the thought of knowing what is coming next.       They need rules/expectations that are consistent, that they can count on. Children need to know what is expected of them and that it is not going to change. If you make a rule, try your best to stick with it. Yes, new rules will happen at...
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If They Repeat It, They'll Likely Complete It When Kirby Worthington, co-founder of Growth and Giggles, was working toward her Master’s degree, she spent time as a director of a Montessori preschool. She had read research on repetition and decided to test it out. On a very cold winter’s day, after three days of freezing rain and no outside playtime at school, the sun came out and it was time to go outside again. However, under the swing there was a giant mud puddle full of the freezing rain. Before going outside she gathered the children and told them: “We’re going to get to play outside, and you can play on any of the equipment – except no swinging today”, and she explained about the puddle. As they went out the door, she stopped each child asking them, “Where are you NOT playing today?” And they would repeat back to her, “No swinging and no playing in the mud.”...
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How to Help your Preschooler Deal with Irrational Fears Three-year-old Jonathan would not go anywhere without wearing a hat. He called it his “helmet.” One day, Kirby and Jonathan were out walking in the woods, and Jonathan realized that he had forgotten his helmet. He started to get panicky. Kirby quickly offered him the knit hat she was wearing because of the cold, and he calmed down. After a while, Kirby asked him, “How do you like wearing my helmet?” Jonathan replied, “I like it. It keeps me from falling down.” “How does it do that?” asked Kirby. “Just fine,” answered Jonathan. Later, Kirby was able to figure out that Jonathan had observed his dad wearing a bike helmet, and had asked him why he wore it. His dad told him that it kept him safe. Jonathan interpreted that to mean that the helmet kept his dad from falling down while biking. Don’t you wish we could crawl into our...
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Crab Walk, Arches (Bridges), and Backbends Kids like moving their bodies! Here are three fun activities that build flexibility, balance, strength, and coordination. Safety Tip: Remember, do not force yourself (or children) to flex farther than is comfortable, with a slight pulling feeling in the muscles. Hold the stretch, then gently stretch a bit further. Never force a stretch. Crab walk: Have children sit with their knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of them, feet apart. Next show them how to place their hands down by their sides, but slightly behind their backs. Then, they can raise their hips off the floor. Now they can walk forward, backward, and sideways, pretending to be crabs. Arches: Have the children lie on their backs. Help them place their hands on either side of their head beside their ears. Their fingers point back toward their shoulders. Help them place their feet flat on the floor near...
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20 Learning Games for When Mom or Dad is Exhausted Parents of preschoolers are tired people. Caring for little ones is exhausting work. We have the best intentions of providing enriching activities for our kids, but when exhaustion sets in, good intentions go out the window. To help you plan for those times when you need something your child can do while you are lying down or sitting, here’s a list of 20 activities. Finger paint in shaving cream spread on a cookie sheet. Play with play dough. Read. If you’re reading a well-known book, try changing some of the words or sentences and let your child have fun catching your “mistakes.” Play Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Put on music and let your child dance. Try giving her a bean bag and challenge her to dance with the beanbag on her head, between her knees, or on her elbow. Play “red light, green light.” Play a following directions game. Give...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
What do I do with a Sandbox? When my oldest daughter was 15 months old, her dad built a sandbox. I (Kirby) knew it was going to be perfect! I could hang clothes out to dry while my toddler blissfully discovered pouring and measuring and building and dumping. Montessori had come to my house! I gathered up my basket of wet clothes, led my little girl over to the new sandbox, and headed for the clothesline. But she just stood there, staring at the sand and looking puzzled. Then it hit me—she didn’t know how to play with sand. So I abandoned my laundry and we spent time making mountains together and filling up her dump truck, pouring water onto the sand, and digging holes. After that, she knew what to do, and she knew how much fun it could be. It’s not just kids who haven’t learned how to play with sand. Lots of parents don’t know...
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Getting Ready for Kindergarten: What Your Preschooler Needs to Learn It's back-to-school time! Like with every decision, parents agonize over preschool options. Do you send your child to preschool? What kind? Would your child be better off at home? Will they be ready for kindergarten if you opt out of preschool? To help you think through your options, here's a basic checklist of what kids need to know to succeed in kindergarten. You can help your child learn these things at home, or they can gain this knowledge through any number of preschool programs. Language and Pre-reading skills: They need to be able to: Listen Follow directions Have an attitude that learning is fun Recognize and name basic shapes Recognize and name basic colors Understand the difference between “true” and “make believe.” Make rhymes Hear syllables Identify characters in a book Pre-Math Skills: They need to be able to: Tell the size differences between piles of items Recognize coins Count out...
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