March & Play to a Different Beat: Respect Differences in How Children Play

Kids, like adults, can march to a different beat, and play to a different one too; it’s important to respect differences in how children play.respect differences in how children play

Play is not the same for all children. Parents only need to have two kids to see the tremendous differences there can be from one child to the other. While all children love to move, some are far more active than others. These kids seem to be constantly on the run, jump, or hop. Some children talk far earlier than others. During their play, kids kids talk to the stuffies and toys and pretend to be their voices. Favorite toys might be a pretend telephone, or a real one whenever they see it around! Hands-on is the interaction of choice for many children. Blocks and construction toys of all sorts lurk on the floor for unsuspecting adult feet. In this case, it’s not marching to a different beat but limping.block and construction play

While there may be some general similarities for the ways girls play as opposed to the ways boys play, there are vast differences for children of the same gender. Many girls engage in building with blocks, rough-housing, and zooming cars and trains around a track. By the same token, many boys will play with dolls and kitchens. Just as many boys as girls have baby brothers and sisters, so caring for younger family members is common for both. Girls and boys can snuggle a doll, take it for a walk in the stroller, give it a bottle, and tell it not to cry. These are natural activities and show how we care for each other. Boys can ask for an easy-bake-oven and girls can want a science kit.boy playing dolls gender equality

When we respect differences in how children play we are respecting children themselves. Kids can march to a different beat in what they want to eat, how they dress, the books they like, and the way they play. How will your child choose to play today?


How to Steal a March #16: Helping Kids Develop Self-Regulation Skills

We all want what’s best for kids, if only we knew–but we do; helping kids develop self-regulation skills is critical for their future and their success. And the most sensitive time to begin that process is during the early years, from birth to the age of 5. The best way is with everyday, ordinary experiences. developing self-regulation skillsSelf-regulation involves coping with emotions, controlling impulses and attention, handling problems, and being able to wait. Early childhood expert, Dr.Ida Rose Florez, has studied young children and the role of self-regulation. In her article, Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences, she describes it as a sort of internal thermostat that we all use to guide our responses to situations. Children learn how to turn on and off their reactions to situations and to warm up or cool down their interactions. Like any other skills, this takes practice and support. As parents and teachers, we can help kids develop them.

Each day will have countless opportunities for us to model how we control and regulate our emotions and behaviors. For instance, if we are feeling frustrated because the morning is hectic, we can mention we’re getting pretty upset and need to take a deep breath so we can get back to being calm. Out and about, if we have to wait in line, we can talk about how it’s hard to wait for a turn, but that’s what people do.

Children don’t have the words to tell us about their emotions. When we notice emotions building, we can say something like, “I see you are feeling frustrated because you can’t get that toy to work.” Or perhaps, “I hear your voice is quite upset when your sister/brother won’t listen to you. Are you feeling angry?” As well as cues and reminders, a gentle touch or short back rub can help a child regain control.

Books and stories are great resources for sharing examples. There are dozens of titles for many common issues for kids. Maurice Sendak’s, “Where the Wild Things Are,” has been a top choice for decades. developing slef-regulation skills

One of the best opportunities for helping kids develop self-regulation skills is, of course, through play. As children play, they are being constantly challenged to explore their emotions, solve problems, and direct their attention. Development of these skills gives kids a distinct advantage, it enables them to ‘steal a march.’ What can you do today to support learning self-regulation?


How to Steal a March #15: Helping Kids Ask Questions

Helping kids ask questions will give them an advantage. Thomas Berger said, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”
help kids ask questions
Despite the astonishing number of questions kids ask a day–some estimates are more than 300–asking questions is really quite complicated. Brains have to organize the correct order of words, change the voice from regular speaking to go up at the end, and use specific words. Could it be that kids use the word Why because it works for asking a question so easily? Besides why, there’s how, when, what, and where to add to the list. It’s quite a challenge to learn and remember which word to use when and where.

help kids ask questions

Our example is part of the learning process and gives kids a model to copy. We can also use books and stories with questions to give them more examples, like Richard Torrey’s fun book “Why?” The pages have tricky questions, such as “Why do feet stink?” or “Why do crackers have holes?” You can follow the Why? book with another one by the same author, “Because.”

help kids ask questions

Asking the question is only part of the package. Besides the wondering, kids have to be able to trust that we will answer their quesion. They are not only asking for information, there is another underlying question, that is, “Am I important enough to answer?” Whether or not our answer makes sense to the child, our reply means  “Yes, you are important enough.

help kids ask questions

Another way to say having an advantage is the expression to ‘steal a march.’ Since it’s the month of March, using this expression is a fun play-on-words. Helping kids ask questions is another piece of early learning and development. It gives them a critical tool they can use to explore and understand the world as well as contributing to their sense of worth. For a play-of-the-day, have some fun with questions, not just serious ones, but the sillier the better. Do you have any questions?

How to Steal a March #14: Play with Learning Tools = Advantage

Play with learning tools can give kids a huge advantage in confidence. Using a play-on-words for the month, it helps them “steal a march.” Here are some ideas ideas for fun and play with learning tools from an earlier post: Letting your child play and experiment with these tools is not just fun, it’s also … Continue reading How to Steal a March #14: Play with Learning Tools = Advantage

Kids’ Nature March Into Spring – Time to Play Outdoors

To celebrate the day (finally!) how about a kids’ nature march into spring? Well, maybe more accurately a walk or run. No matter how kids move, the first day of spring is a call to go outdoors. Is there a playground in your area or a park? Besides sliding and swinging, a big, open space invites … Continue reading Kids’ Nature March Into Spring – Time to Play Outdoors

How to Steal a March #13: Kids Hear a Call for Risky Play

Somehow the world speaks differently to kids that it does to adults; without a doubt, kids hear a call for risky play. Children’s response to this call often gives parents and teachers grey hairs. As their caregivers, we need to help kids manage their answers to risk. Our own example is a powerful model for … Continue reading How to Steal a March #13: Kids Hear a Call for Risky Play

How to Steal a March #12: Imagination Gives Kids An Advantage

We all want our kids to have the best, including learning and opportunities, and imagination gives kids an advantage. It helps them “to steal a march.” In the words of Einstein himself, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge. Are kids born with a talent for imagining? That’s hard to say because we can’t see how … Continue reading How to Steal a March #12: Imagination Gives Kids An Advantage

Kids St. Patrick’s Day Fun Activities – Leprechauns and Kids Love to Play

The calendar inspires today’s play-of-the-day with some kids St. Patrick’s Day fun activities. After all, leprechauns and kids both love to play. And laugh and play tricks. First thing in the morning, find something green to wear. Green is the color of shamrocks and, of course, the Emerald Isle. Maybe kids can help make a … Continue reading Kids St. Patrick’s Day Fun Activities – Leprechauns and Kids Love to Play

How to Steal a March #11: Helping Kids Learn to Make Choices

Making choices is a skill, and during the early years is the best time for helping kids learn to make choices. Kids need opportunities and experience, as well as our example and guidance. Have you ever noticed how kids will play with anything? It’s every bit as likely a child will play with sticks, rocks, … Continue reading How to Steal a March #11: Helping Kids Learn to Make Choices

How to Steal a March #10: Helping Young Children Follow Instructions

Helping young children follow instructions can give them an advantage, or to use an old expression, help them to “steal a march.” (This month’s posts are inspired by the play on words of march and March.) As an adult do you ever find following instructions to be a real challenge? For kids, that can happen … Continue reading How to Steal a March #10: Helping Young Children Follow Instructions