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

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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