So far, this month’s kindergarten readiness blog posts have been lots of fun for me to do and, I hope, for you to read. The topic has been all about brains: 9 multiple intelligences, 5 senses +2 whole body senses, and now some whole brain activities. It was sure easy to feel overwhelmed though and that encouraging kids to be powerful learners we’d need to be brain scientists, as well as musicians, artists, athletes, and scholars. Instead, we are parents, caregivers and teachers and parents have a double role because they are the first teachers. But, the good news is that when kids are little learning opportunities come in little packages, too. The little minutes in every day add up to big learning.
When kids get a little scratch, cut, or other ‘owie’ we sometimes kiss it better. Is there a way to give the brain a kiss to make it think better? Kisses are often represented by the letter X. In this case the letter X isn’t a kiss but a crossover. The notion of the brain being divided into 2 halves, the left being logic and language and the right being creative and visual has been debated for years. In his book, Unleashing Your Brilliance, Dr. Brian Walsh writes that the optimal for learning is having both halves work together! And cross overs is one way to link the two halves.
Think of the letter X. Have your child give himself/herself a hug. The two arms cross more or less at the shoulders. Now, drop down and cross arms at the hips and then the knees. Standing back up, with arms by each side, bend one arm up, with the elbow point down. The other hand reaches over and touches the bottom of the elbow. Switch arms and do it again. All of this is quite a challenge for little ones. Grown ups can use it to boost thinking as well, (especially when you have to think of where you’ve put something.)
With both halves of your brain thinking together, what growing brain and kindergarten readiness play activities can you suggest for your child?
Why, when babies try and taste everything, is it so hard just a couple of years later to get kids to eat? All our senses help us to interact with our world. In kids, senses are a major source of information for learning. The brain connections that children make when they are so young help them later on. Preschool and kindergarten programs will include discovering about the 5 senses but there’s lots of learning that can happen before then and will encourage readiness for kindergarten.
Learning about the sense of taste is easy to do at home. For some reason, kids often want to eat when it is not meal time, so for snack set out some very small bites of things for them to try. Talking about what they are tasting and if they liked it or not will expand their language. Color and smell are also involved in tasting. You can ask your little one if changing the color would make something taste better.
If you have more time on the weekend, you and your child might like to tackle a baking project. Especially this time of year, when there are lots of goodies to bake and taste. Families often have their own preferences and special holiday treats but cookies or bars are usually fairly doable. More than just promoting kindergarten readiness, exploring the sense of taste allows us to better enjoy our world. What treats do you like to bake with your child?
As if we need to encourage kids to develop their sense of touch! There’s proof they are touching lots already…the walls, the door knobs, their sticky prints on the cupboard doors and drawers. But they may not be making the brain connections between what they feel and the words that tell about it. Plus, really we touch with the skin all over out bodies, not just our hands. Exploring the sense of touch helps with brain connections and readiness for kindergarten.
Throughout the day, help your child notice different textures and how things feel. When getting ready for the day, how does the soap feel? Is it smooth and slippery? What temperature is the water? A toothbrush feels a bit poky; a hairbrush can feel scratchy. How about the towel? Shoes can sometimes feel too tight. If you are going outside, a coat or sweater might be needed because it is very cold.
There’s lots of things to feel around the house. The table may be smooth, the rug might be soft. Pillows and blankets are really soft. Is there anything bumpy at your house? Toys usually have a variety of textures, from the bumps of duplo to fuzzy stuffies to squishy playdough. While your little one is playing, take a minute to encourage your child to talk about how these toys feel. Not being careful can mean some painful touching. Bumping into things can hurt bodies in many different places.
Touch sensations help develop awareness of the body and how it is moving. They also affects emotions. Positive touch is very important for relating to others. As you can see, helping your child develop the sense of touch is important for safety, language development, healthy emotional growth and, of course, kindergarten readiness. The best way to end the day is with some hugs and cuddles. How does that feel?
When it comes to hearing, babies use what they hear to make sense of the world. Generally, children have more sensitive hearing that adults and they can hear a greater variety of sounds. But it’s still important for brain connections and readiness for kindergarten to promote development of hearing–and listening–skills. What are some ways to encourage the sense of … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Holiday Learning Fun: Hearing→
This is the best time of the year for exploring the sense of smell. So much smells so good. While this may not seem like a readiness for kindergarten activity, before children go to school is the critical time for brain development. As kids learn about their senses they are growing their brains and making all kinds of … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Holiday Learning Fun: Smell→
The holidays have been so busy and so wonderful! For some holiday fun with your little one today, take 5. 5 senses, that is. When you have a minute, wherever you are, ask your child what s/he can hear. Are there jingle bells or music? Crunchy snow? Have your child tell you what s/he can see. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – 5 Senses Holiday Treat→
At school, the kids watched a DVD about the 5 senses that showed that babies can smell even in the womb! Exploring the sense of smell therefore is an activity for more than kindergarten readiness. It’s also an activity for more than newborn to school aged kids! Some still-waiting-to-be-born kidlets may have to wait though because some … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – 5 Senses, Smell→
What part of our bodies do we use to touch? Yes, we use hands and fingers but a special part of them–our skin. We use the skin all over our bodies to touch. We can use the sense of touch to expand children’s learning of all kinds of skills and enhance kindergarten readiness. For communication … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – 5 Senses, Touch→
Exploring and discovering are kindergarten readiness activities. The 5 senses have boundless opportunities for both of those, plus others such as vocabulary, communicating, comparing, making choices, and more. For taste, we can distinguish sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Here’s a fun activity to explore those that can keep a little one busy while adults are busy … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – 5 Senses, Taste→