Saturday, April 23, 2016

PAINTING WITH CHOCOLATE PUDDING and other practical parenting ideas

By Lucille Reeck, guest blogger
I’m writing as a parent and retired teacher to you to re-assure you that you that our children come to us as individual miracles, each with special with special and unique capabilities.
Throughout childhood, your child's nerves are continuously growing and developing.  He or she may not be able to do /perform some tasks yet, simply because those nerves may not be ready. They will become ready as his/her development proceeds.
What can you do as parents to facilitate development and not worry about it? Once again, kids develop at different, unique rates. Here are some parenting gifts you can give to your children, regardless of their development stages.

  • First, read to them. Or look at picture books and have them tell their own story of the pictures. Write out the story and have them read it back to you.  Reading repetitive books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin is especially good because the rhymes are simple and very easy to remember.   


Children learning in Kenya 70 years ago. Photo in the public domain via Wikimedia.

Hand-writing a story may be too much of a challenge for your child.  But, does he or she type?  If yes, try having them type the story. Or ask the child to draw pictures and tell you the story. Supposing you have the energy (smile here) you might write out the story. Read it back to them. Then have them read it to you.
Read all kinds of books, cartoons, and even those with goofy riddles or repetitive word combinations, like Dr. Seuss books.  Librarians at your public library will be helpful. They can point you to books that might likely be of interest to your child.

  • Play is children's thinking it seems to me. Spend time at a playground (you could be the "troll" and give chase.) Or build a fort under a table. Perhaps construct a very small fort under the covers of his or her bed in which she or he can use a flash light to look at books.
  • Drawing of any kind, "painting" with finger paint, or, for a very special time, with chocolate pudding! I bought a roll of freezer paper for my own kids to paint on.  It is relatively cheap and holds wet paint and pudding pretty well.
  • Exercise every day, running, chasing, walking, playing catch (great for eye-hand coordination) and jumping jacks are some ideas.
  

Child swinging in Toronto

Author: Tim and Serena Middleton via Wikimedia Commons. File  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.

  • Jobs, even if only simple ones, but with a goal, give a child a sense of usefulness and purpose.
  • Math: use Popsicle sticks, crayons, anything that is easy to count for practice in adding or subtracting.  For fractions, cut up fruit or veggies into halves, thirds, and fourths. It’s fun and instructive too.
The Kumon math series has work books with pages of equations (all in the same number family). These are great as a rote learning tool, and as time progresses, to see how fast or slow (smile here) he can master the pages. 

  • For phonics--a fun way to "hear" words is to clap the syllables, like cat (1 clap), kitten (2 claps), and bicycle (3 claps). Phonics are the foundation to spelling. Learning to hear the beginning, middle and ending sound is vital. Rhyming is a tool to use in phonics.
  • Playing board games is fun and educational too.  Sources: the library or a Goodwill store.  “Sorry” lets the child count spaces, promoting eye-hand coordination.  It’s also a great way to get away from constant video games. But I don’t knock video skills because they are the future of today’s children.
  • Behavior issues. A few minutes of “time out” is a great way to give your child time to find a way to change his/her behavior. I like to make it a true time out with the child sitting comfortably on a chair without any thing to play with but to be able to look around him. Limit the time to sit to about 3 minutes.
Different intelligences. All of us have our own different intelligences in a unique mix, whether mainly artistic, musical, mechanical, building, or scientific. When teaching a concept to a kid it’s best to teach in a variety of ways, using art, visual aids, marching to music and counting all the while, building a structure using popsicle sticks or toothpicks--or M-and-M's ( smile here).  When I was teaching we teachers employed many different strategies.  Varied approaches help every student at every level.
Most of all, I want to be supportive and helpful if I can. I know a husband and wife who I tried to do all the things parents should with their children.  Their first child was bright and articulate but had some learning issues in elementary school. Perhaps he entered kindergarten a year too early. But now the “kid” is a college graduate, working in computer stuff, and is just fine! That illustrates what I said in the beginning, that each of us is special. Teach and parent so that all can use their gifts and intelligences to make the world a better place.

[Disclaimer: these thoughts are not intended as professional diagnoses but rather as helpful ideas gleaned from teaching and parenting careers.]

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