A fundamental skill or strategy for learning that will help children with kindergarten readiness, and much, much more, is that of patterning. Patterns are items that are repeated in the same way. The advantage of patterns is that they reduce the amount of information that minds need to remember. Information is often in such big quantities that it is overwhelming. Adults talk about information-overload and kids feel that too. A pattern condenses that information.
Patterning is a natural skill. Crawling and walking use the pattern of left-right, left-right, left-right. Music, songs and stories are certainly patterns. Including other activities using patterns will help children develop this powerful strategy. Decorating a gingerbread house is a fun way to practice using a pattern.
With all the colors of candies for the gingerbread house, it was easy to make these patterns. On her own, Lee made a few rows using 2 different colors, such as green-pink, green-pink and purple-orange, purple-orange. With more pink candies left than green ones, I suggested a pattern a little more complicated: pink-pink-green, pink-pink-green. The suggestion wasn’t well received though, so on the other half of the roof, Lee put them in a regular AB-AB pattern. At four years old, she was able to make her own patterns, but still needed a few reminders when she skipped a color. A picture of last year’s gingerbread house is included to show the development and growth over a year.
As with other learning, kids will need lots of experiences with patterns to develop their patterning skills. The day may start out with a pattern on pajamas that are coming off or one on a sweater than is going on. Is there a pattern on the cereal bowl? A walk to the bus or car can be a pattern: big step-little step, big step-little step. Wrapping paper often has patterns. Patterns are everywhere! Today, what patterns can you and your child discover, explore, play with, or create?