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

Posted by on in Learning Games
Teaching Kids About Money, Part 3 Building on "Teaching Kids About Money, Part 1" and "Part 2," the following practical ideas can be considered:   Money games for pre-schoolers to help them learn the worth of money: Take file cards and trace around coins. The child can try to fit coins into the spots. Make cards in which the value is explained. One traced nickel equals five traced pennies, one dime equals two traced nickels, and so on. (This is a tough concepts for youngins, since the dime is smaller than a nickel but worth more.) Note: children like handling coins. Do so for a short time. Do not do it until they lose interest. And do not do it around littles who put them in their mouths. Older children can play with these cards on a tray or box lid to keep it out of reach of younger siblings. Use coins to do a one-to-one correspondence...
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Posted by on in Parenting
Enjoy Your Children! Kirby reminisces fondly about her mom being the only parent who got out and played with the neighborhood kids. Kirby followed in her footsteps. The kids noticed. "You like being with us!"  Outdoor play can be for parents and children. It's really important to play outside with kids, not just to send them out and invite neighborhood kids over. Their development will leap ahead -- socially, cognitively, physically, relationally (especially toward the parent playing with them). But you may not have had an experience like Kirby's. And if you have not seen it modeled, you may not be able to picture it. Children love adult attention. They feel important. Their self-esteem and self-worth rises. The advantages of this are: The adult is present to speak into how to work out differences between the kids. (There is an aspect of social development here, thinking of ways to compromise.) Much less bullying or...
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Posted by on in Cognitive Development
The Importance of Quiet Children today experience a very different environment to the one their parents grew up in. Back in the day, Mr. Rogers knew what he was doing when he built a time into his program simply for thinking. We need to spend time every day just thinking. Just imagining.  As a parent, remember to carve out time for your child to have a quiet, slower time to stop, look, and listen. A time to be outside and observe. For further reading see: "Exercise, Sleep, Screens: New Guidelines for Children Under 5" "A 'million word gap' for children who aren’t read to at home"...
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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 Cognitive Development
Word Families with Blocks STEP 1: Make a block. Have fun. (To make your own block, we have a tutorial.) STEP 2:  Cover each of the six sides with brightly colored paper. STEP 3: Write six different letters, one on each side of the block. Use letters that look different from each other. (See Alphabet Hotel link for examples of letters to begin with.)  After they know their letters and associated sounds, they are ready to put letters together. STEP 4: Make specific word family blocks. Write endings like "at" on a piece of paper that will go to the right of the block once it is rolled. Here are some letters that can go on the block for the "at"-ending word family:  or "ar" or "op".    at -- b, c, r, h, m, f, p, s, or anything else that works ar -- c, b, f, j, p, t, w op -- t, h, p,...
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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 Learning Games
Matching Games Galore Anything can be made into a matching game. Just look around your house. Do you have two forks? Two noodles? The point is, you don't have to go out and buy anything to make a matching game. In matching, the brain is being wired in both pre-math and pre-reading ways to notice what's alike and what's different. For example, how does a child learn to differentiate between an "a" and a "d"? They need to see all the parts of something before they decide if they are the same or different.  So, starting when children are toddlers, begin to simply notice and name the difference in things. Big rock, small rock. Two different leaves. You can mention similarities as well. Then point out the differences. Two different balls. Mention size, color, etc. This is the first step. Just notice and point out things that are the same and different in everyday life....
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Sight Word Spectacular As mentioned before, Kirby believes that teaching sight words and phonetics together is the best way to set kids up for a future of reading well. In this post, we'll cover some sight word games to play and the words to use when making these games. When making your own sight word cards, it is important for us to start by mentioning that young eyes need the sight words written very largely (1-2 inches high). The muscles of young eyes are learning how to focus on things. Another helpful tip is to write mainly in lower case letters on pieces of cardboard or another sturdy card paper.  In choosing which words to begin with, use the names of family members including the child's name with upper and lower case letters. Write the child's name, then Mama (use upper and lower case m with Mama to make it easier), and the names of...
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Pre-reading Fun: Alphabet Hotel Expanded! However abstract learning letter names and sounds can be, normally children can do it. It is not too different and equally abstract when a child who has never been to a farm looks at a picture of a cow and says, "Cow...mooo." As you may have read in the previous post, the Alphabet Hotel homemade game can be a great way to get your child learning letters. Now, we'd like to give some options to grow this tool into a toolkit! When you sense that a child may be interested in reading, start with games like Alphabet Hotel. It can be played by different ages and levels of pre-reading children. A two-year-old may play by matching the letters while an older sibling can name the letters as they match them, and an even older child can give the name and sound that the letter makes. If a child is not interested, leave...
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Developing a Reader: the world of pre-reading The first step in pre-reading is reading to your child as they grow inside and can hear what your saying, the rhythms and sounds of reading. When they are born, start naming whatever they are looking at (get other people to do this too). Name whatever they hold...if it's a rattle, name it but if they shake it, say "shake". Once the child learns the sounds to make their own "sound language" treat those as real words. For example, in giving the child the choice of milk or juice to drink, pronounce each option very correctly then if they respond with "mmmm" say, "You want milk." You will know if this is not what they want as they will show you with their unhappiness. At that point you can respond with, "Oh you want juice." This is real talking for them at this stage. A lot of children learn the alphabet...
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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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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 Learning Games
Complex Hoops In our final hoop installment, we'll look at how to use hoops to teach more complex ideas while keeping it user-friendly for children. Preschoolers cannot think with adult logic but they can grasp more intellectually by using tangible objects, for example using hoops to learn sorting.  When using hoops to teach sorting make sure only two varieties (colors/shapes) are being used. For a 2 year old, place the hoops on the ground next to each other and present a group of circles and squares that can be sorted into the hoop for circles and the hoop for squares. The same could be done with two colors. In general, most two year olds can grasp this concept. For three year olds, it is always best to start with two varieites. If this is easy, move to three options to sort and so on with four varieties of color/shape, etc. When the child...
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Math Principle #2: One-to-One Correspondence When teaching the math principle called “one-to-one correspondence”, it is important to involve physical development, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and making it something they delight in – all at the same time! Then they will get it much faster. Count while Eating They can count each cheerio, or each green bean. Before they realize it, they are understanding subtraction! It gets the brain wired for math as a toddler. They may not know it, of course; but one day it will click. Tick Tock Game Also mentioned in our previous post on math, this game can be used to teach one-to-one correspondence. It involves the body and balance. When they say the number, lift a finger and have them jump. As a rule, only go as high as they are old (until the age of 5). Counting Steps Also, again, count when going up steps. Always go in order....
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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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Getting Preschoolers to Cooperate: A Tiny Change for Big Results Do you have trouble getting your preschooler to cooperate? (That was a joke…of course you do—they’re preschoolers!) One simple change you can make--without much effort, without discussing parenting philosophy with your spouse, without brainstorming rewards or meting out punishments— can make a significant change in how cooperative your preschooler becomes. And don’t tell, but it will probably work on the adults in your life, too. Let me show you the idea, starting with a personal example. I grocery shop once a week, and I go with a detailed list, which usually doesn’t include ice cream. But every week, as I walk through the coffee and tea section, I know I am coming up on “the aisle of temptation.” At this point, I might say to myself, “Don’t go down the ice cream aisle!” At which point, I involuntarily start picturing cold, sweet, chocolatey goodness melting around my tongue. My other option...
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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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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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