At the beginning of the month, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by the child expert and parenting author, Michele Borba. She reminded the parents, caregivers and teachers present that education is more than academics. We need to make sure that we provide experiences for social, emotional and physical development as well as intellectual. Michele mentioned some very specific research on ‘waiting’. Now, at kindergarten we do a lot of waiting: waiting to play with popular toys, waiting for a turn to use the restroom, waiting for the gym, the library, equipment at the playground, waiting to see moms and dads at the end of the day, and more. One little girl remarked to me one day that all she’d done that morning at school was wait. Michele shared that children who waited patiently at a young age carry that skill with them and follow-up research at high school graduation showed that they had higher test scores, were more socially competent and more able to cope with life’s demands and frustrations. This waiting skill is called “Strategic Allocation of Attention”.
Since most of my experience has been at kindergarten, I can not vouch for later grades, but I do know that life can be hard for munchkins that have a difficult time waiting. I appreciated the few suggestions that Michele provided for helping children learn to wait. This week, I’ll pass them along to you, as well as some activities I’ve found that promote learning and using waiting strategies. Until tomorrow, then, if you can wait….
On my way to work yesterday, I caught part of a radio interview with astronauts Robert Thirsk and Frank de Winne. They were talking about their previous mission on the Space Shuttle Atlantis just before its scheduled lift off. The interviewer asked about 6 people living in a confined space for 6 months. Robert Thirsk advised that being respectful of each other and communicating were key to their relationships and to the success of the mission. I couldn’t help but say outloud “All I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” It’s not so much that these skills are learned in kindergarten but, perhaps, that this is the first time there is a teaching plan, written objectives and lesson activities for learning these social skills and strategies. And what is learned in kindergarten voyages all the way to outer space–and back! We’ll continue exploring some activities that you can do at home to promote social and emotional development. What else can we learn from Atlantis?
I played a baby game earlier this week that I remember playing with my grandfather. When I put my hand on top of his he would slide it out and put it on top of mine. Then I would slide mine out and put it on top of his again. At some point we used all 4 hands going faster and faster until one of us got out of sequence. The giggles and shining eyes of the little one playing with me triggered my memories.
This ‘your hand, my hand’ switching is a very early game to teach taking turns. Children younger than 2 years old love this game and can play the 1-hand each version. Older children can handle (pardon the pun) using both their hands. For even more fun, try it with 2 or 3 people but be prepared for the concentration and focus needed!
Just rolling or tossing a ball back and forth to each other helps children learn to take turns. For older kids card games and dice are great activities to practice taking turns. To keep 1 or 2 or more kids busy, while you are trying to do something in the kitchen, give them each a plastic bowl. Put some Cheerios in another bowl. One child shakes a dice and counts out that number of Cheerios to put in his/her bowl. Then, the next child takes a turn. Children can eat their O’s while waiting for their turn to come around again, giving them something to do. It’s also good math practice at the same time that children learn this important relationship skill. Plus, it’s quite amazing how long they will play for a few Cheerios–dry, as well. You may have time to get something done! ( P.S. A minute timer makes life a lot easier for parents and caregivers. ) Your turn…
Once children have the idea of taking turns, it may be necessary to talk about letting others have the first turn, too. This book is also a story about a pig (see yesterday’s blog) that has a lesson to learn. The lesson ‘teacher’ is a sand witch. The author is Helen Lester and the title is … Continue reading Taking Turns – Me First!
The first part of May, this blog has been presenting some strategies for helping children develop some social and emotional skills so that kids can function as members of any group, be it preschool, on the playground or at daycare or school. The topic for today is taking turns. Kids hear lots of reminders to take turns and … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness- Taking Turns & Tell a Story
Taking turns requires several behaviors on the part of the child. First and foremost are self-regulation and impulse control. Being able to wait is another skill. The child often needs to listen and watch for clues that signal the end of the other person’s turn. The child who is having a turn may be the star … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – This is the Way We Take Turns
Why does having a turn seem so important and desirable when one is little and the opposite for grown-ups? I wouldn’t mind giving up my turn for countless activities like laundry and meals. Nevertheless, children need to learn to take turns and have opportunities to develop and practice this skill. Being able to take turns … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Taking Turns
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Making a Mother’s Day card is much more than an old, traditional activity. By drawing, coloring and even just copying the words, the child is participating in a very grown-up task, that of communicating in a written form. A key concept for learning to read is that pictures and letters are a … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Making Mother’s Day Cards
This is Blog #4 about sharing. Sharing is one of the first social skills that children learn. Both songs and books can promote learning to share. Just like a coin, sharing has two sides. Children need to learn how to share with others and they need to learn how to ask others to share with them. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Share 1 2 3 & 4
Lessons on sharing can also come from books. The two previous posts have discussed helping kids learn to share . “Being told how” lessons are easy to forget. Stories add a dimension of “being part of the action” that is easier to remember. Here’s just a few suggestions. There are many, many children’s books on … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Once Upon a Share