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Is It Developmental or Behavioral: Children’s Misbehavior

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One of my greatest honors is teaching babies and boys!!! They both tickle me so much. Today I was teaching my students about their bodies and force. They were learning how to roll a ball to the other side of the room. They had to figure out how much force to use to get the ball to the wall. So of course these little cuties pies started throwing the ball at the wall , kicking the ball, balls were flying all over the place I was cracking up.

THANK GOODNESS FOR PATIENCE!

I had to stop the class and the music 3 times to explain the instructions and how it was to be done, and that if I saw a ball flying through the air, it was flying right back into my bag. Everyone complied except two little boys, so the balls went flying back into my bag. Well of course you know those boys had the fit of life, crying and carrying on. I explained in a calm voice what I had said earlier and said now they had to watch. They were not happy about that at all.

They both sat out one song, after which I asked did they want to try it again. The purpose of them sitting and watching was not to punish them. In watching the other children they could learn how to do the activity.  I once again explained the instructions. One little boy was able to do it. The other one sent the ball flying into the air again at which point I realized that he just didn’t know how to do it. So his teacher and I showed him how and broke it down so he could see what was happening.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Because I work solely in private schools and early learning centers, it is important for me to understand when a child is really misbehaving and can understand what I am asking them to do or when it is a situation where the child doesn’t have the capability to carry out a task because it is beyond them developmentally. We don’t expect babies to run  or hop or skip. You may say that’s a physical thing, but this happens physically, emotionally, socially and in other ways.

As educators and parents we have an opportunity to look further and ask is this a behavioral problem or are my expectations too high for what the child can actually do.  Asking this question opens up many opportunities to make things better and easier for both the child and us. Once we know the answer we can respond appropriately and in the best interest for everyone.

 

This is why I love my job so much. Sometimes things children do are not out of misbehaving but because they are not quite there developmentally. As Educators it is our job to know the difference and then support them in working on and mastering what it is we are teaching them. HOT DIGGITY!!!! I LOVE MY JOB!!!!!!! ♥♥♥

Sometimes It’s Both: Helping Children Make Good Decisions

Father and Son Dancing TogetherHelping  your child to learn to make good decisions start earlier than we think. When we ask our toddler, “Fruit pop or jello” we limit the choices to only two things.We unconsciously give our children choices of either/or, rarely ever a choice of  both. Sometimes we should introduce the concept of having and doing both. How about do a little dance while you clean up your room or pick up your toys. Turn on the music and have fun while you are cleaning up. It doesn’t have to be all of the time, but it should be some of the time so that children learn that there are more choices than this or that.

I totally understand that as a parent you just don’t have a lot of time and you just need things done. Ditto that for teachers, you have even less time because there are so many other demands in the classroom. But what would happen if we could expand our thinking just a little bit to think about how we can teach children as well as ourselves to ask “How can I do both.” or ” Is it possible to do both.”  So we can give choices of would you like tuna salad and turkey salad, have a little of each. Or in the other example clean up the room and have fun while doing it.

The choices that we give children should grow up with them. They wont need to have either or choices forever. They can make decisions on having both. When my daughter was making a choice on her career, she initially felt that she had to choose between being a dancer or an attorney. I asked her why can’t you do both. You can be a professional dancer and find a way to practice law also. It doesn’t have to be either/or.  A light bulb went off in her head, she had never thought of that.

I am going to make a point of thinking in terms of both when making decisions and choices and be open to thinking about what else is possible.  Doing this will open up greater possibilities and choices to  choose from. Having greater choices and possibilities will result in experiencing a richer and fuller life.

Try this not only with your children but also when you have to make decisions yourself. Think in terms of how can I have both and see what opens up for you. Come back and let me know what happens. I’d love to hear from you. Please share this with family and friends if you find value. Also please feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you

You Are Never Too Young To Dream

Do you ever talk to your children about dreams and wishes? A lot of people ask their children what do you want to be when you grow up. Normally they want to know what type of career  their child is going to pursue. Do they want to be a fire fighter, police officer or doctor, attorney or teacher. There are so many things that they can possibly want to do.

I was at an event this evening that my daughter was performing in. It was an event celebrating the life and achievement of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.  It was a panel discussion on what his dream meant to the panelist and how can we in 2013 keep his dream alive. All five of the panelist were excellent, two in particular pointed out some interesting things. One pointed out that it took great courage and vision for Dr. King to even dream during the height of segregation and inequalities to African American people, but still he dreamed on. The other asked the audience what were their dreams. He even asked a seven year old boy in the audience what was his dream.

DOES YOUR CHILD KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO DREAM

This seven year old did not answer back. I wondered if he knew what a dream was and understood what the gentleman was asking him. It was then that I decided to write this post about talking to our children about their hopes, dreams and desires. We can start the dialogue by asking them what do they want to be and also find out the things that they like. We can start to open up this dialogue so that they can start the process of dreaming.

It is good to start this early, not in a pressured  way, but in an exploratory sort of way. One of the reasons that it’s good to start this early is because kids don’t have limitations on their imaginations. We should encourage this limitless imagining. Just like we want to develop their little body and muscles and want them to grow. We also want them to have really strong and active imaginations. We want to them to start developing possibility thinking early.  Do not judge what they say just listen to it. Listen with an encouraging heart and mind.

EARLY STAGES OF CREATING A VISION

If we begin to encourage our children to dream and imagine we will be helping them to create a vision for their lives. This is something that the second panelist brought out. It is very important to help our children to see past their circumstances and situation. We want them to learn to focus on their desired outcome, to see it in their mind’s eye. As parents we can help our children by helping them over time develop the skills and characteristics needed to accomplish their dreams. It is a gentle process that we can guide our children through. If they cannot come up with anything no pressures. As parents and educators we can begin to look at their gifts and talents for answers.

Ultimately you want to communicate to your children that they can. They need to feel that they can also and having them dream and imagine helps to build the confidence and esteem needed to accomplish their dreams. Adults can do this too. Just as it is never to early to dream it is never to late either. Try this with your children and let me know how it turns out. By the way, it doesn’t have to be your child it can be any child a relative or not. The whole idea is to plant the seed. I would love to hear from you; you may also feel free to leave a comment on your views.

Why We Are Trains, Buses And Animals In Class

So many of my parents ask me all of the time are you doing something with frogs in your class or dogs, cows or snakes? They are so perplexed because they can’t see the correlation between pretending to be something and dance. So I am going to explain the reasoning behind this wonderful and fun way that children express themselves creatively, use their imagination and work with others and learn about their world.

IMAGINATION: A USEFUL TOOL IN LEARNING

The use of the imagination is so crucial to children learning. This particular skill helps both in creativity and self expression. It also helps children to have empathy and compassion and a better understanding of how the world works. They learn about similarities and differences and how things work and what these same things can do. They also learn what they themselves can do and what they are capable of.

Children love pretending. If you watch children, you’ll notice that they pretend in different ways. Sometimes they pretend  and imagine in a way where they are causing something to happen. They are building the tall tower or driving the tiny handheld car on the ground or up the wall. When they are doing this they are learning about cause and effect. How high can this tower go without falling? They are like scientist running an experiment, constantly asking “what  if”‘.

There is another type of imagining and pretending that involves actually being a thing. So they will be a dog crawling on all fours rather just reading about it. We all build our knowledge upon our experiences and this is how children learn also. So they will learn about space and gain spatial awareness by being in the world horizontally rather than vertically as they normally are. This a big favorite among the children, pretending to be something.

NO LIMITS TO WHAT THEY CAN DO OR BE

It’s my favorite too because there are no limits to what they can do or be. Many times instead of taking attendance by having them say “here” or “present”, I ask them are they going to be something or do something today.They love it! They pretend to be motorcycle  racers, airplanes, trains, flowers, a mermaid all kinds of things. Although it takes more time than I would like some days I still use it because I want to encourage it because I know that this is a way to express themselves, to use their bodies and to imagine. I also want them to experience the limitlessness of their minds.

CREATING SMARTER, FIT AND HAPPIER CHILDREN

In addition to the fun that the children have there are other reasons why I use  this method of learning. One it’s experiential learning that uses much more of their senses than just learning the traditional way. Secondly all of the movements in my class are also designed to integrate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain for better learning and functioning of the brain. More oxygen gets to the brain and assists in clarity of thinking. Lastly because of the increased oxygen flow in the body, it also burns up fat and helps children cardiovascular system and with physical development.

ASSESSING AND DEVELOPING CHILDREN

During my classes in addition to creating and implementing the lessons I am constantly assessing where each student is physically, emotionally, and socially as well as cognitively. I am not just looking at what they know but how do they learn best. What are their strengths and what needs more development? What is their thought process so that I can use that in current or future lessons. I assess each student based on where they are when I first teach them. From that point I determine where we need to go from there.

Lastly, using their imagination in this way also gives them a frame of reference when we move to the choreography (dance portion) of the class. It informs their quality of movement. When I say to them you have to jump up high using all of your legs like a frog they get it.

I hope this answers any questions and gives you a better understanding of what’s going on in class. Yes they are still learning dance vocabulary and movement. Yes they are becoming more physically fit and developing better balance and coordination, but I also want you to know that there is so much more going on. Your comments or questions would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to leave them.

Play: A Crucial and Necessary Element In Child Development

Earlier this week, I presented a parenting workshop on What Is Play and It’s importance in Child Development. I was very happy to find that many of the parents there valued “Play” and realized how essential it was to their child’s development. They felt play was good for their children and made them happy. Many of them focused on the physical aspects of play and how it moved their children’s bodies and unintentionally exercised them. But what they were really surprised to find was how it played a role in overall development.

In Early Childhood Development there are four corner stones that we like to make sure that we address and include in all curriculums across the board no matter what it is called or their emphasis is, be it Montessori, High Scope or the Creative curriculums. In all of them we want to make sure children develop physically, emotionally, socially and of course cognitively.  Play covers development in all of these areas simultaneously and effectively.

I mention this because it seems to be that now there’s this big push to have preschool be more like school, more academics and less play. I actually think it should be the other way around. School should be more like preschool where learning and fun are equal partners and a lot of creativity and discovery are also present. I feel that there would be a lot more learning going on. Students would retain and recall the information a lot more if fun were involved. They would be more engaged and interested and excited about learning and coming to school.

Somehow I think some people forget how much you learn with your body. How the richer you can make the experience the better the retention. By richness I mean involving as many senses as possible and all the parts of a person like creative expression and imagination along with their bodies.

Creativity and imagination are very important skills to develop that will help anyone young or old in school or out. It is why we appreciate the arts so much and cannot do without them. The great thing about these two skills is that they can assist us outside of the arts field. They can help us in business, as parents, as problem solvers and scientist in creating a better life and in all aspects of life.

Play helps to develop these two characteristics and such much more. It uses their bodies, emotions and minds simultaneously.  It helps them to define who they are and understand the world they live in. In addition to making children happy it is something that they are designed to do. It is innate and the blueprint for their growth and development. It is also great for adults too. So play on children, play on!!!