Category Archives: Child Development

School Starting Age: The Evidence

Here is an article published by the University of Cambridge which discusses the advantages of starting formal schooling later and delaying literacy lessons until the age of 7. We tend to agree and that is why our preschool programs include children age 5 and 6.

Studies have compared groups of children in New Zealand who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7. Their results show that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later. In a separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries, researchers showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

Read Full Article here >

 

Re-Thinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom

The space we inhabit on a daily basis leaves a deep impression upon our psyches. How calm or busy this environment is can say much about our inner lives though for most of us we don’t even notice it. One of the most significant differences of a Waldorf classroom is the quality contained within the space. Parents remark on it consistently.

In this article from the New York Times Jan Hoffman reports on a new study about the effects of busy walls on a child’s ability to focus and concentrate on their work.

Imagine a kindergarten classroom. Picture the vividly colored scalloped borders on the walls, the dancing letters, maybe some charming cartoon barnyard animals holding up “Welcome to School!” signs.

That bright, cheery look has become a familiar sight in classrooms across the country, one that has only grown over the last few decades, fed by the proliferation of educational supply stores. But to what effect?

new study looked at whether such classrooms encourage, or actually distract from, learning. The study, one of the first to examine how the look of these walls affects young students, found that when kindergartners were taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted, their gazes more likely to wander off task, and their test scores lower than when they were taught in a room that was comparatively spartan.

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University, did not conclude that kindergartners, who spend most of the day in one room, should be taught in an austere environment. But they urged educators to establish standards.

Read the full article here >

Your Child’s Most Important Teacher

“You will not be good teachers if you focus only
on what you do and not upon who you are.”

― Rudolf Steiner

As parents our role in our child’s lives is to provide a structure in which they can feel confident and secure about their place in the world. It is up to us to create an environment in which our children see us as a loving-authority. We have all become frustrated with our children from time to time, however when we are impatient or short tempered with our children we are failing to provide them with the security they need to develop fully. The path of parenting is one of growth.

Experience the transformative power of
staying calm, conscious and connected with your children,
guiding them to become more present, resourceful and heart-centered adults.

In my own parenting journey I have been asked to investigate my reactive emotions countless times. My path has called upon me to transform my preexisting parenting patterns and investigate my own inner life. When I looked deeper into these patterns I often saw they were not rooted in the present moment but rather a result of previous experiences not fully processed. I needed to examine my reactions with awareness and loving kindness for myself so that I could be calm and present for my children.

In short – I worked on myself.

 

Our children are born with a heart that instinctively knows what is right and that instinct requires us to meet them with our hearts if they are to recognize us as authorities, guides and pathfinders.  The more confident and centred you feel in your parenting abilities, the more you will enjoy your role and your time with your kids.

In strengthening my sacred connection to myself, my children naturally fell in line with where I was at emotionally.

We can only be this guide for our children when we have authority over ourselves and our own inner lives. It is through ongoing striving to improve our inner-authority that we as parents learn to set ourselves aside and be “present,” listening with our hearts to what our children are bringing and to what they need. When you develop your own strength of will and nurture a heart and spirit connection to your parenting life, you will discover you are more proactive and less reactive. From there our own reactions come from a place of calm clarity and we are able to give our children what they need most from us: a parent who reliably holds the role of a consistent, loving guide in their lives.

The Slow Fix

Reposted from CBC

We live in a fast-forward world. We’re stressed out, maxed out and exhausted. Michael talks to Carl Honoré, author of the “The Slow Fix” about how to embrace our inner tortoise without rejecting our inner hare.

His first book, In Praise of Slow, galvanized international interest in the way we live. His next book, Under Pressure, critically examined how parents are micromanaging their children’s lives. Now with his latest book, The Slow Fix, Mr. Honoré shows how changing our neurotic relationship to time, can change our lives for the better.

honore-368x206This is the shortened version of a longer interview.
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/The+Sunday+Edition/ID/2332944021/

The full interview is found here:
http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/shows/2013/02/10/in-praise-of-slow-hr-1/

Delaying Kindergarten creates smarter kids

nursery_1958606cFormal schooling should be delayed by at least 12 months because an over-emphasis on the three-Rs at an early age can cause significant long-term damage to bright children, according to a leading academic.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY By , Education Editor DAILY TELEGRAPH

Pupils should not be subjected to full classroom tuition until the age of six to off-set the effects of premature “adultification”, it was claimed. Continue reading Delaying Kindergarten creates smarter kids

Playing with purpose

5143064697_c5cf6c9cb8A trip to the store becomes so much more when you take a little extra time and go at the right time!

  • Go when your child isn’t tired or hungry
  • Talk to your child about what you need and what you are passing.
  • Let them touch the cold milk, the warm deli case, the furry sweater or the smooth boots
  • Talk to the about the steps you take when you shop, find the item, put it in your basket, carry the item to the till, pay for the item, bring it home.
  • Encourage them to help you carry & pick out the things you need and talk to the sales people you encounter.
  • Let them help pay and talk about money
  • Go home before your child is hungry or tired

What could be more exciting than a trip across the ocean to dig up buried treasure? And what if your ship turned into a deep dark cave where a dragon lived and waited? Or maybe it is a table for a tea party with your stuffed animals.

For a toddler their world can be transformed with the flick of a light switch or the dump of a box. Even a simple trip to the grocery store is exciting. They learn through their play and the environment that they are raised in. A rich environment filled with discovery, imagination and new ideas will grow an inquisitive mind hungry for more learning. Their days are made up of the moments you create whether it is baking cookies, or buying milk include them in your tasks and you will both have more fun.

This imaginitive play that goes on during the toddler years can develop our ability to reason, think logically and solve problems later in our adult lives. As your little toddler pretends to stir the pot or sweep the floor thier imagination is working on the ideas to put his teddy to bed and feed the cat lunch. Soon their toys will come alive as your child gives them a voice with a seemingly endless monolouge where there was once only shrieks of excitement.

Obstacle Course

Toddlers love to explore spaces and climb over, through, and into things. Things to try to find….

  • Stuffed animal or toy
  • Large cardboard boxes
  • Pillows
  • A large flat sheet
  • A soft ball
  • A large plastic laundry basket
  • Skipping Rope
  • Anything you think would be fun

Build your obstacle course! Get them to take their stuffed animal with them for security! Open the cardboard boxes to make tunnels to crawl through maybe get them to roll the ball through the tunnel as well, then throw the ball into the basket. Pile pillows on the floor to climb over, place a sheet over two chairs or a table to wiggle under. Get them to try and walk on the skipping rope.

Not only is it fun but it helps toddlers learn concepts such as up, down, over, under, strengthens their muscles and control over their bodies.

For more game ideas click here.

When your child is pretending let them take the lead, but feel free to make suggestions and add your own ideas. If they seem stuck maybe offer a few words of encouragement or advice. Making a pretend breakfast can be a wonderful opportunty to teach manners. Dressing up a doll can be an opportunity to learn the order of how things go on. Setting up a train track and driving a train on it takes patience and many problem solving skills as they figure out how the pieces fit together and eventually how to join it all together in a loop. Learning through play is all about being together and having fun.

For more fun ideas:

Crafting with Toddlers

Fun Songs and Rhymes

Playing Games

Don’t forget my Newsletter is jam packed with ideas

For my personal accounts of our activities check out my BLOG

When you encourage your child to dream and pretend, he learns to use his imagination to see beyond what already exists, and give him the courage to explore the unknown.

– Zero to Three

Creating Crafts with Toddlers

Often parents and caregivers do not think of crafts and toddlers as being the greatest idea. But crafting with a toddler can be a wonderful opportunity to build on their fine motor skills even if the result is just a sticky glob of paper and glue. The act of picking up a piece of paper and gluing it to another piece doesn’t seem like a challenging task but for a toddler it can foster skills that will serve them well in their coming years and create a confidence and independence in an otherwise shy child. Creating creatures and faces diversifies their visual discrimination and talking about different materials will build their vocabulary.

Most of the crafts out there are designed for preschool or school age children, not toddlers. If you sign up for my newsletter you will find tons of crafts each week that you can pick and choose to make with your little one.
Below I have provided only my favorite and best recipes and tips to textile with little hands.

Kool Aid Play Dough

2 ½ Cups of flour

½ cup salt

package of Kool-aid (color and smell!)

3 tbs vegetable oil

2 cups boiling water

Mix flour, salt & kool-aid. Add vegetable oil and boiling water. Knead until ready. Store in an air tight container/locking plastic bag.

– smells really good, but probably shouldn’t be eaten. Some other ideas for scenting playdough include food extracts (almond, vanilla, lemon, or peppermint).


Kool-Aid Finger Paint

2 cups of flour

2 packs of unsweetened kool-aid

½ cup salt

2 Tsp oil

3 cups of boiling water

Stir all ingredients into the pot of boiling water. Viola! Finger paint!

-Bonus it’s scratch & sniff


Fantastic Bubbles

1 cup warm water

2 tbs dishwashing detergent

1 tbs glycerine

½ tsp sugar

Mix all together. It seems to work better the longer you let it sit. The glycerine makes your bubbles last longer and can be found at a drugstore.

Goop, Slime, or Otherwise

We all remember playing with it, it still fascinates me. Make some for your little ones.

Box of Cornstarch

1 ½ cups of water

Don’t worry if the slime is too thick, just add more water, or if its too thin, add more cornstarch.

To make it colorful, add food coloring or corn flour paint (dye can stain the hands!) You can separate it into small containers or one big batch in a large container.

Encourage your child to pick it up and squeeze it (it goes hard) and then let is slide through their fingers.


Paper Mache

There is no right or wrong way to make this (ok well there is a wrong way) but just test and see what works for you. Here is what I use)

One part flour

Two parts water

Whisk the ingredients together to get out the lumps, add a bit of salt to prevent mould.

You can also use mache as a clay or recycled soft paper –
Soak papers in water in container.

Reduce to pulp by tearing and stirring with spoon.

Drain.

Make recipe above mixing in paper.

Stir until paper mache begins to feel like clay. It will squish through wire forms. There will be some shrinking as mache dries.

Magic Sand

1 part sand

1 part tempra paint powder

Store in baby food jars with holes poked in the top and lids glued on. Use instead of glitter!


Tip: Adding a bit of dish soap or liquid soap to paint makes it easier to wash out.

We Haven’t tested these recipies yet if you use one or the other let us know how it goes!


Paper Mache 2

3 cups cold water

1 1/2 cups flour

Oil of peppermint

In a heavy saucepan, stir flour into cold water. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens to a creamy paste. Cool; the add a few drops of peppermint oil. Use this paste with strips of paper to cover a form. Let each layer dry before adding another layer.


Classic Slime

Kids love to play with slime. To make it add cornstarch and a little water from the tap, and stir well. Continue to add water until you get the right consistency (it should be fairly stiff when rolled in the hand, but melts through the fingers when not rolling). Don’t worry if the slime is too thick, just add more water, or if its too thin, add more cornstarch. To make it colorful, add food coloring to the water before adding.

Some Simple Craft Ideas to get you Started

tinfoil robot craft

Toilet paper tube robot

  • Tinfoil
  • Toilet Paper Tube
  • Glue
  • pipe cleaners
  • buttons, foam, paperclips, accesories…

Squeeze glue on the toilet paper roll or give your toddler a glue stick. Let your toddler wrap the tube in tinfoil. Decorate him with extra tinfoiled paperclip arms (unfold and edge and jab it into his side, pipecleaners for antenae, foam buttons, let your child be creative.


easy fridge maganet picture frame craft

Picture Frame Fridge Maganet

One of my favorite and easiest crafts

  • cardstock (junkmail works well!) or cardboard
  • strip off a sheet of peel & stick maganet
  • decorations, glitter, paint, shapes, fabric whatever you have on hand.

From the cardstock cut out a rectangle 5.5″ x 7.5″ wide, fold in half gently and cut a hole slightly smaller than a 4×6 photo. Give your child a glue stick and whatever you have and let them go nuts decorating their picture frame. They will love to see it on the fridge holding up pictures of them and your family.

building a scrap or bit box for crafts

Scrap or Bit Box

All you need is a box, one that fits on a bookshelf or whereever will be easily accesible to you to throw extra bits & pieces in.

The fun comes in covering it with paper and decorating it with bits that you are going to put inside, buttons, fabric, knick knacks, milk jug lids, paint, glitter, wallpaper, tissue paper, what ever is around your house that may make a good craft someday.

For more ideas on storing and collecting your craft supplies check out my newsletter.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much you can do and explore through crafting. My newsletter is filled with TONS of craft ideas and inspirations so check it out and join the fun.

Games to Play with Toddlers

Our generation is often referred to as the ‘TV generation’ and we are in danger of raising our kids to follow in our sedentary footsteps. Physical activity isn’t just good for you, it also makes kids tired and gives them an appetite (What parent doesn’t have troubles with meals and bedtime?). So there are lots of reasons to get out there and get active and here are some ideas to help you do it.

Little Toddlers

  • Obstacle course – see Filling the day
  • Blowing Bubbles for him to chase in the yard, park or playground
  • Playing Hide and Seek – little toddlers love this game even if they don’t hide.
  • Go Swimming – nothing tuckers you out like swimming

    (in the summer put a wading pool out back toss in some recycling ie. containers, and let them go nuts.)

  • Go for a leisurely walk – point out things that you see, let your toddler touch fences & trees.
  • Dance to the Music – burn off steam with some dancing to your favorite music

Older Toddlers

  • Games like Hokey-Pokey and Head & Shoulders are great now that the little guy can move without falling over
  • Tag with a friend outdoors
  • Simon Says & Follow the Leader – let your child be the boss
  • Add a new dimension to dancing by playing ‘Freeze’ or ‘Statue” every time the music stops you have to stop too.
  • Wrestling or Roughhousing does have it’s place in the fun pile. Try to get hats (or socks) off of each other without losing your own!

The most important part of playing with your toddler is that you both have fun. Playing games encourages independence and fosters self confidence in budding personalities. Have fun and let your child take the lead.

For more game and outing ideas check out my newsletter

Little Toddlers 12-24 Months


Teetering & Talking

A whole new world has opened up for your young toddler in the past few months. A little personality has emerged and grown from the tiny person you once held so gently in your arms. In the next year they will learn to communicate with you through gestures and words. They will discover how to walk, run, jump and climb (not necessarily in that order!)

Your child’s bond to you has formed over the past year and will continue to strengthen as he beings to understand his world and how things work. He will mimic you as he plays, sometimes taking the lead and sometimes needing a little bit of help. Little toddlers can’t really understand the concept of sharing quite yet although many parents will be quick to tell you of heartfelt moments of generosity that their children showed. They are repeating your actions and learning from you so keep up the good work.

Play time is Special time

  • Pushing, pulling, opening, turning, all of these things make excellent work for little hands. Toddlers love to discover toys like books, boxes, buckets and buttons make excellent playthings.
  • When you toddler is a bit older and not putting everything in their mouth, you can start doing crafts such as finger paint and play dough with them.
  • Anything that your toddler enjoys is sure to be done again, and AGAIN and AGAIN, but they are learning through all this repetition. They are also harboring the answers in their growing brains, self confidence grows as they begin to know what you know!
  • Talk to your toddler and continue that play by play of the world by naming objects, actions their colours and names.
  • Sing a song with your toddler and listen as they try to mimic the words and tune back to you. They are sure to have favorites and will quickly learn the words to them. Many toddlers love to dance along with their favorite music. So get up and dance!

There will be moments when you don’t quite know what to do with that little bundle of energy, but that is what this site is all about – here are plenty of ideas on playing with your toddler.

Toddlers 24-36 months