Early Learning

The Importance of Family for Early Learning

The importance of family and time together is even being recognized by the retail industry. Some stores were closed for Black Friday so employees could have a day at home and, even better, some were still paid for the day. Any chance, do you think, this might become a trend?

importance of family early learningChildren’s learning before school ever starts is crucial because 90% of the brain develops by age 5. Parents and caregivers build the foundation and teachers build on that.

That could sound like the bad news, but this doesn’t mean piling more on the to-do list. You don’t have to start with flash cards and math facts at home. Learning can piggy-back at what you are already doing at home.

In an article for Business Insider: Science says parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common, writers Drake Baer and Rachel Gillet, list some ordinary, everyday ways. Three of the major points are having kids participate in doing chores, helping kids develop social skills, and valuing effort not just achievement.

When kids have jobs they do–at a level appropriate for their age, they develop responsibility. To kids work can be play. Doing chores is a gateway into the world of grownups, plus kids feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment. This is a foundation for independent living and working when they are on their own.

Social and emotional skills impact how well children do at school. Children’s confidence and level of comfort will impact their learning. It’s hard for kids to focus on what’s happening at school if they are anxious and unhappy. Being in a group for so many hours a day demands being able to get along with others and an understanding of how groups work. Emotionally, kids need to able to separate and to handle their feelings. Persistence and resilience are good strategies.

We all like to have our efforts appreciated and kids are no different. Mistakes are part of learning and happen to all of us. It’s much easier to tackle a challenge if there isn’t the pressure that it has to be right. Acknowledging effort instead of results is crucial.

Raffi, a children’s entertainer (Remember Baby Beluga) and founder of the Centre for Child Honoring shared some supportive words for parents,

parenting and early learning“…we see how tough a job parenting is, my psychotherapist colleague said. She’s right. It’s the toughest job in the world and most parents these days feel stretched to their energy limits. I have the utmost compassion for  you….give yourself a big hug too, every day, for this most important calling, parenting.”

Mother Nature must have had a plan. She recognized the importance of family and the challenges for parents so added in an “escape” valve. One of the best ways children learn is through play, so besides the hugs, can your day include some PLAY for you and your child?

The Early Years: Week of the Young Child

The Importance of the Early Years

Last week was the Week of the Young Child for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Sometimes, it feels like that every week! But these seven days were a special celebration for one of the world’s largest organizations for kids. The aim of the week was to promote and support young children and families because the early years are so very important.

early childhood yearsJust how important are these years? They are critical for children. 90% of the brain develops by the age of 5. The impact goes far beyond too because what happens during this time will influence kids for life. While their lifetimes are shaped by what happens now, it involves the whole world. Kids are 20% of the population and 100% of the future.

In order to support children, we need to be there for families. After all, parents are the first teachers and home is the first school. But do parents need to turn their homes into learning centers? Their days are already busy enough, how will they find time for something more? This can be quite overwhelming for those with young children.

early learning As a parent, do you sometimes wonder what to do about early learning and how to do it? Thankfully, Mother Nature must have recognized that this would be a challenge. The best way for children to learn is through play. Kids need time and space to explore, build, create, discover, take apart, and pretend and then do over and over and over some more.

Hopefully, that takes off some of the stress. As a parent of young children, what questions do you have about early learning? Would you like to know more about play? What kind of support would be helpful for you? Keeping in mind the intention of the Week of the Young Child and supporting families, I would like to invite you to ask your most pressing questions. Then, in the following days, I will do my best to give you some answers and information in the play-of-the-day blog posts. Can you come out and play?

Sing While You Spring…Clean

Remember the song to whistle while you work? In the same spirit, that work is easier when it’s fun, you can sing while you clean in the spring and turn chores into plays-of-the-day:

children help with spring cleaningThis is the way we vacuum in corners,
vacuum in corners, vacuum in corners.
This is the way we vacuum in corners,
When we clean in the spring.

This is the way we sort the clothes,
sort the clothes, sort the clothes.
This is the way we sort the clothes,
Now that it’s spring.
(or at least: since winter’s almost gone. Tune is Mulberry Bush)

Having kids help with chores such as spring cleaning is important for a number of reasons. Kids not only like to be included, doing so helps them feel part of the family. Work activities are mostly done by grownups so when kids do chores, that’s a sign they are accepted to the adult world, at least for some of the time. They learn valuable skills and strategies that they will use far into the future such as taking care of things, being responsible, and how to clean up messes.

A colleague, Jacquie Fisher at KC Edventures, has made a super printable for age appropriate spring cleaning chores. Here is a link to visit her blog and get a printable copy for yourself. She lists tasks such as sorting clothes and picking up toys inside the house and outside in the yard. For fun, partly fill a big container of warm soapy water and let kids wash toys. It’s a good plan to first wash toys from inside that spend a lot of time on the floor, like the wooden blocks and plastic bricks. Once that’s done, then kids can wash the ones from outside that are gritty and muddy. Spread some big towels on the grass or deck and let toys dry in the sun.

Besides singing for fun, add some imagination. Kids can pretend to be robots, or dinosaurs, or fairies as they clean. When done, could all the helpers celebrate with a tasty treat?KC Edventures-spring cleaning chart

Mealtime Talk for Young Children – Eating Dinner Together

What do you think is the most important thing that you do with your kids? Would you have known that it’s eating dinner–or sometimes called supper–with them? Family therapist and professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, Anne Fishel says “…sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the … Continue reading Mealtime Talk for Young Children – Eating Dinner Together

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Kids: #10 Saving Money

Saving money is often on lists of new year’s resolutions for grownups but it can also be there for young children, even before kids start school. In the humorous words of Liz Pulliam Weston in her article about money and preschoolers, “children are ready to learn about money as soon as they’re old enough not … Continue reading 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Kids: #10 Saving Money

Halloween Treat Learning Activities: Colors

Learning comes in many colors, and the ones of Halloween treats can help young children as they make the brain connections for this challenging skill. What makes learning colors so tricky? Here are a few reasons: Each color comes in an endless variety. Think of blue, just at Halloween.Both Elsa and Spider-man costumes are blue, … Continue reading Halloween Treat Learning Activities: Colors

Getting Groceries with Kids for Fun and Learning

Even if we don’t need apples at our house, we need other groceries, and a trip to the grocery store can be a fun and learning event for kids.  When shopping with kids, a list is helpful. For one thing, it’s easy to forget something important with kids asking questions every two minutes. Plus, when … Continue reading Getting Groceries with Kids for Fun and Learning

Apple Sizes and Comparing Activity

Did you know that comparing sizes is a complicated thinking skill?  It’s a great deal more than learning the words big and little and requires considerable brain connections. Size is all about relationships instead of being about the bigness or smallness of something. A riding car is pretty small compared with a real car, but … Continue reading Apple Sizes and Comparing Activity

From Sticks to Scissors and Other Learning Tools

Every occupation and career has its own set of tools and play is children’s work; for kids early learning tools include sticks, rocks, mud, and toys, as well as crayons, chalk, glue, and scissors. Letting your child play and experiment with these tools is not just fun, it’s also helpful before starting kindergarten or preschool. … Continue reading From Sticks to Scissors and Other Learning Tools

Summer Picnics Serve Up Food, Fun, and Early Learning

Another great outside activity for the summer, is a picnic! It combines fun, learning, family meals, outside time in nature, and even some kindergarten readiness. That’s quite a plateful. Much of the learning is incidental and so ordinary that it’s all but invisible. For example, a parent might ask a child, “Do you want syrup … Continue reading Summer Picnics Serve Up Food, Fun, and Early Learning