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Pre-K Matters

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Exploring the impact of pre-kindergarten on children and their communities.


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Working Parents & Childcare – Selecting High Quality Care When Parents Must Be Away!

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Working Parents & Childcare – Selecting High Quality Care When Parents Must Be Away!
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Kim_Metcalfe,_Ph.D.]Kim Metcalfe, Ph.D.

Best Practices ECE1 Rainy Day PreK

Positive interactions with young children builds healthy self-esteem.

Parents frequently ask me what they should look for when they are selecting care for their youngsters when they must be away at work. The answer to this question depends on their expectations, requirements, scheduling needs, and budget for care. In this article I have composed a list of parents’ most commonly asked questions along with answers from a professional standpoint. I will also provide some basic information about early childhood so that parents can make an educated decision about who they choose to care for their children when they must be away from them.

First, it must be noted that there are two types of care for young children: 1) There is care that is meant to keep children healthy and safe; and 2) There is care that is meant to keep children healthy and safe while simultaneously providing educational opportunities that prepare children for formal educational settings (K-12th grade) and everyday life. Second, parents need to understand that at birth the brain is not fully developed. In fact, a tremendous amount of learning occurs during early childhood (birth to age seven years). Consequently, the type of care parents choose, whether the care is for the health and safety of children or whether the care is to include educational opportunities, the primary caretaker should, at the very least, understand and use “best practices” for developing healthy children.

Child development specialists view and use empirical research to describe best practices. Best practices are shown to be those that address the developmental needs of the “whole child.” The “whole child” consists of 5-distinct selves, and each of the selves must learn specific skills in order for children to reach their full potential. These selves include: 1) the cognitive self – the part of the child that thinks, solves problems, makes judgments, and perceives or interprets information. Each of these tasks requires specific skills that are developed during early childhood; 2) the creative self – the part of the child that creates something new out of already existing materials. Today, in America, creativity is grossly undervalued, yet cures for diseases, solving our nation’s most complex problems, and every convenience used by mankind are the result of creativity. Children must be given materials that allow them opportunities to create their own masterpieces, without being criticized, if adults want them to grow up and think outside of the box; 3) the emotional self – the part of the child that feels (sad, happy, frustration, anger, etc.). Children learn to control their emotions, or they fail to learn to control their emotions, during early childhood. The primary caretakers of young children have much to do with whether they develop appropriate emotional regulatory skills; 4) the social self – the part of the child that interacts with others. Children learn both appropriate and inappropriate social skills from their primary caretakers during childhood; 5) the physical self – the part of the child that navigates the body through the physical world. Physical skills include crawling, walking, running, writing, coloring, drawing, etc. These skills begin in infancy and build on each other. Therefore, the early physical skills are critical to developing the physical skills of tomorrow. Naturally, young children also have physical & biological needs such as nourishment, medical care, adequate grooming, and a safe and warm environment.

Best Practices ECE2 Rainy Day PreK

The various skills associated with each of the five selves begin developing during early childhood. These skills are developed through the opportunities that primary caretakers provide to children during the early years of development. Primary caretakers are the models for children and the ways in which primary caretakers respond to the various needs of young children, including their misbehaviors and their mistakes, actually deliver powerful messages to children. These messages can have positive or negative effects on the brain development of children; AND these effects have long-term consequences for children. The information children learn about themselves (e.g., I am competent versus I am incompetent) from their primary caretakers during early childhood development become hard wired into their brains and set the foot print for their entire life span. A common mistake that is made by parents is to believe that their young infant only needs someone to feed them, change their diaper, and keep them safe while parents are away. While these caretaking tasks are important for the physical needs of children, these behaviors alone do not provide appropriate care for the cognitive, creative, emotional, and social needs of developing children.

FAQ

Q1. What is the difference between childcare and preschool/educare? While these definitions may vary slightly most will agree that childcare is primarily designed to care for the health and safety of children. Preschool/educare is meant to provide care for the health and safety of children while simultaneously providing carefully planned curricula that prepare children for formal educational settings (grades K- 12th grade) and real life situations. Many people believe that preparing children for formal education means teaching youngsters the alphabet, numbers, and simple shapes, yet this is only partly true. Youngsters need to learn appropriate social skills and emotional regulation in order to succeed in formal classrooms settings, educational institutions, and in everyday life. To the extent children are able to master cognitive (thinking), creative, emotional, social, and physical skills is the extent to which they are able to successfully navigate through formal educational settings.

Q2. Who qualifies to work as a preschool/educare teacher? Each state is different so it is important to contact your state’s local branch of the Office of Education to learn about the specific requirements for the state in question. In the state of California those who earn a California Pre-K Credential, also referred to as a, Permit, qualify to work as preschool teachers by 1) earning a degree in Early Childhood Education; or 2) completing specific coursework in Early Childhood Education and completing a specific number of days/hours of work experience in a licensed Early Childhood Education facility.

Training and education of Pre-K Teachers is expected to foster knowledge on several fronts: 1) child development, typical & atypical; 2) identify long-term & short-term educational goals for children’s cognitive, creative, emotional, social, and physical development; 3) write monthly, weekly, and daily lesson plans; 3) design curricula that is interesting to children, fun, and educational; 4) use appropriate forms of positive child guidance to set boundaries for children; 5) work with families as a member of a team; and 6) develop a profound sensitivity and ability to work with children of various abilities, temperaments, and personalities. In all of these areas teachers are taught those empirically supported strategies that are shown to promote rather than impede children’s learning, even when children become frustrated, have difficulty, or engage in misbehaviors.

Best Practices ECE3 Rainy Day PreK

There are 4-levels of Preschool Teachers in the state of California. Levels 3 & 4 also require coursework in general education.

� level 1 – Assistant Pre-K Teachers have completed 108 hours of education in early childhood studies.

� level 2 – Associate Pre-K Teachers have completed 216 hours of education in early childhood studies.

� level 3 – Pre-K Teachers have completed 432 hours of education in early childhood studies and approximately 287 hours in general education coursework (e.g., college level English, college level math, etc.)

� level 4 – Pre-K Teachers have completed 432 hours of education in early childhood studies, approximately 287 hours in general education coursework, and additional coursework in a specialized area of early childhood studies (e.g. infant/toddler, children with special needs, school age, etc.). Note: Level 2 and beyond are allowed to be alone with the children enrolled in their classrooms, and are responsible for curricula development and implementation in Pre-K settings.

Q3. Why is the level of education and training important when selecting or interviewing a Pre-K teacher for your child? School readiness curricula is carefully planned, implemented through playful activities, and designed to provide opportunities for young children to develop effective: 1) cognitive, 2) creative, 3) emotional, 4) social, and 5) physical skills. Skilled Pre-K teachers understand how to help children view their mistakes as opportunities, and how to use children’s misbehaviors as chances to facilitate children’s development of appropriate social behaviors, and emotional regulation. Well educated and trained Pre-K teachers understand that adults who interact with children actually shape their brains for their entire life span.

Q4. What is the relationship between parent-child interactions and teacher-child interactions and the child’s developing brain? A child’s brain develops mostly between the ages of birth and age 7 years. During this time period the young developing brain is similar to the hard drive of a computer. Those adults who spend the most time with young children (e.g., parents, caretakers, teachers, etc.) have the most influence on the developing brain. It is these adults who teach the child, intentionally or unintentionally, that he or she is lovable, worthy, and capable of success in a variety of situations and settings. In other words, the adults who spend the most time with children are the programmers of the developing brain. Due to the nature of the brain, it is nearly impossible to deprogram early learning. Parents, caretakers, and teachers who are punitive (e.g., shame, blame, humiliate, embarrass, and degrade children) are hard wiring them to believe that they are useless, worthless, bad, and that something is wrong with them. To sum, the hard wiring of the brain, sets the footprint for the child’s entire life span!

Q5. What is the difference between positive child guidance and punishment? First, it is important to recognize that when children misbehave there is a goal for their misbehavior. Whether children have a physical or emotional need that is not being met or whether they are exploring their environment because they want to learn about it, these are all reasons that children’s behaviors are, at times, unsafe, annoying, or inappropriate. While caretakers of children need to keep them safe, help them learn appropriate social behaviors, and assist them in developing emotional regulation, it is important that adults accomplish these tasks while protecting children’s self-esteem, self-worth, self-concept, efficacy, autonomy, industry, and a host of other characteristics that children must develop and maintain to become their best possible selves.

Hint 1: Using positive child guidance rather than punishment assists children in developing emotional regulation and appropriate social behaviors without delivering the message to children that they are unlovable, inherently bad, worthless, and will never be able to achieve their own goals in life, or be successful in life.

Hint 2: The consequence of positive child guidance is that children develop appropriate social skills, learn the appropriate ways to regulate their emotions, develop healthy self-starting behaviors, and hone healthy effective cognitive skills while establishing healthy self-esteem and self-concept. Punishment does the opposite of positive child guidance.

Q6. Can you give us an example of positive child guidance versus discipline? Yes. In positive child guidance we simply tell the child what we want them to do. In punishment we tell the child what we don’t want them to do, and often times, even without physically harming a child, adults may make statements that leave children feeling badly about themselves. Psychological abuse is defined as behaving in a manner that leaves children feeling worthless, and perhaps fearful of making mistakes. Children who are fearful of making mistakes are afraid to explore, create, or think outside of the box for fear of being put down. Exploration, creativity, and making mistakes are all a part of life and learning, and have led to virtually every convenience used by mankind.

Best Practices ECE4Rainy Day PreK

Imagine a young child climbing up on a chair. He stands there and the entire room looks very interesting. Perhaps he begins to jump off of the chair and onto the floor. “Wow” he thinks to himself, this is fun. The teacher or parent walks in and becomes upset for a variety of reasons. The chair isn’t to be used as a jumping board; the child might get hurt; and perhaps the adult is already upset at something else in life that has nothing to do with the child’s behavior. Nevertheless, the adult snaps and begins asking the child “What’s wrong with you? How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t you know how to listen?” These types of statements imply that there is a problem with the child.

Using positive child guidance, allows adults to assist children in constructing knowledge that is useful at other times in their lives. In positive child guidance boundaries and limits for children are set, and the reasons for the boundaries and limits, depending on the age of the child, may also be discussed. This process allows children to develop cognitive skills about safety or appropriateness of behaviors, and allows children an opportunity to make better choices for themselves. When children make better choices the environment (adults, other children) respond in positive ways and these responses send the message that the child is competent, worthy, & lovable. When humans believe that others have positive perspectives of them, healthy self-esteem, self-concept, and self-efficacy are established.

The primary problems with punishment and time outs are that children are berated for their choices and, worse, children are often not told why their choices are inappropriate and are not given opportunities to make better choices. Some adults feel that they should not need to explain anything to children because “after all I am the adult and the child is just a child.” But this thought actually reflects the failure of adults to respect children’s feelings, needs, temperaments, frustrations, and natural inclination to investigate the world they live in. In addition, this thought and other similar thoughts assume that children are miniature adults who understand the world and know how to effectively and appropriately deal with their emotions and exploration tendencies.

Examples of punishment versus positive child guidance: 1) A child is standing in a chair. Using punishment adults make statements such as: “What is wrong with you? You know that is unsafe. How many times do I need to tell you not to stand in the chair. You aren’t listening you need to go to the time out chair. Don’t stand in the chair you’ll get hurt.” 2) Using positive child guidance adults make statements such as: “I need you to sit in the chair so you will be safe. You can sit down on your own or I can help you.” While making these types of statements the adult is walking over to the child, ready to help the child sit down if the child doesn’t make the choice to do it on his own. Next, adults may say something such as, “I know it is fun being up high but I want you to be safe. If you want I can stand next to you while you stand on the chair and look around.”

There are many statements that can be made that help children do what we want them to do yet do not destroy their inquisitive nature. Parents should observe caretakers and teachers to make certain that they use positive child guidance rather than punishment. Observations should be for long time periods and during different times of the day. This will give parents an idea as to whether caretakers and teachers use positive child guidance with all of the children all of the time, even when several children are “misbehaving.”

Q4. How do I select a high quality preschool/educare or childcare facility? Today approximately twelve million children receive care outside of their family homes, yet, only 1 in 7 preschool and childcare facilities are considered to be high quality. In the state of California, both Family in Home Care Providers and Preschool Centers are required to have a license which is issued by Community Care Licensing. This license is provided to a Home or Preschool once minimum health & safety guidelines have been demonstrated (each person living in the Home or employed by the Preschool has passed a criminal background check by the FBI; sharp objects, toxic items are locked away, etc.). Family providers must have a current CPR training completion card, and Health & Safety training Certificate, but there are NO educational coursework, certificates of completion, or work experience required. Preschools are mandated, however, by the state to hire Pre-K Credentialed Teachers if the teacher will be left alone with children.

Although it is not required by the state of California at this time, there are a growing number of nannies and Family Providers who hold Pre-K Credentials and/or Degrees in the field. This is great for families who are in need of care and/or education for their youngsters because there are many more choices available to them. With more options, parents have a better chance to find the care and or education that fits best with the needs of their family.

Whether families select a Family Provider, Preschool Center, or Nanny to care for their families’ needs they should ask those who will spend the most significant time with their children some questions about their training in Early Childhood Education; knowledge about the effects of adult behaviors on early brain development, and whether the teacher or adult spending time with their children uses positive child guidance or punishment (pose questions such as, “What would you do if my child stood on the counter?”).

Below are some sample questions:

� What level of the Pre-K Credential/Permit do you hold?

� What is the effect of punishment on the developing brain?

� What are your long-term goals for my child (what does the teacher expect your child to be able to do cognitively, creatively, emotionally, socially, and physically by the end of the year?

� What types of curricula do you use to develop each of the above skills?

� What will you say to my child when his or her behavior is seen as inappropriate?

� How many parent-teacher conferences will be given within a year?

� How many authentic assessments is done on my child each day or week? Are these included in the parent-teacher conference?

� Will there be an electronic version of the parent-teacher conference sent to me?

� Will I receive samples of my child’s work with interpretations that explain my child’s development?

Parents should write down the responses to the questions they pose to caretakers or teachers and then observe often to determine whether they practice what they reported about their behaviors. Parents who have a desire to help their children develop a profound respect for different cultures should review the books and curricula used in the home or facility. Some issues to consider include:

� Are there families with different abilities portrayed in books?

� Are families and people of different sizes portrayed in books?

� Is the art work on the walls reflective of a multicultural world?

Q6. How do I know whether it is best to hire a Nanny, place my child with a Family in home provider, or select a Preschool Center? Children are different from each other and families should understand that there is not a one size fits all when it comes to selecting appropriate care and/or education for their youngsters. First, each family must decide whether they prefer childcare only, or childcare and education. Second, each family must decide whether their child has the temperament to do better in their own home, a small family environment, or a larger preschool setting. Sometimes families do not know what works best for their child until the child begins this journey. Relax, nothing is set in stone. Families who discover that the selection they made does not work as well as they anticipated are able to change. Sometimes, children outgrow a situation that has worked well for a long time.

Sometimes the choice between hiring a nanny, selecting a family in home provider, or selecting a preschool center has nothing to do with a child’s temperament but everything to do with the parents preference, work schedule, and/or finances. Remember, there are high quality nannies, family providers, and preschool facilities. And the opposite is also true. To know what you are getting parents should ask questions of the primary teachers or caretakers of their children; parents should drop in often and observe the behaviors of teachers or caretakers before enrolling their child in any settings.

After enrollment occurs, parents should initially stay with their child in the setting they have chosen to assist their child in building “trust” with their primary and secondary (assistant teachers) caretakers and/or teachers. Children who have a difficult time in a larger setting may do better in a smaller setting or with a smaller group of children.

Final Comment: There are those who have completed coursework in early childhood education but choose not to use the strategies they have learned. There are those who have not completed any early childhood education coursework yet are naturally gifted when it comes to working with children. I would not, however, choose to have my children cared for by persons who are not extremely knowledgeable about the effects that adult behaviors have on developing brains; nor would I choose to have my children cared for by persons that use punishment rather than positive child guidance.

Hello. I hold a PhD in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Human Development and I hold a Masters degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. I am a full-time Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at a community college. My area of expertise is grounded in empirical research that shows “best practices” for developing healthy children. From a developmental standpoint children are looked at as “whole beings” which means that their cognitive, creative, emotional, social, and physical skills (5-selves) must be considered during the early years; and “best practices” must be used to assist children in further development of these skills. I am passionate about my work and it is my opinion that America’s ability to be a healthy nation and a leader of nations rests with our ability to raise healthy children. Raising healthy children takes skill. All adults in our nation who interact with children regularly or who make decisions that affect their lives should BE EDUCATED AND TRAINED IN “BEST PRACTICES.” Best practices are shown to help children become their best selves. The best self is a person who has developed, given the person’s genetics, the skills of the 5-selves that allow a person to contribute to him or herself, family, community, nation, and the world in effective, efficient, loving, caring, kind, ways, and feels good doing it. We tend to ignore one of the most critical elements of having a healthy nation, which is providing appropriate “training” for ALL adults who care for the nation’s children. Until that happens I will continue to write articles that shed some light on important parenting and child issues. For additional resources on these issues please click on the Mission of my private preschool’s website at: [http://www.thelittleprofessors.com]

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Working-Parents-and-Childcare—Selecting-High-Quality-Care-When-Parents-Must-Be-Away!&id=4711336] Working Parents & Childcare – Selecting High Quality Care When Parents Must Be Away!



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Early Childhood Education: Homework in Preschool ?

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Should there be homework in preschool? This question is an extension from another question I have asked in this forum. I babysat for my younger cousins, two girls. The older one is 4 and in preschool. Her teacher is supposed to the best. She assigns preschool  homework every night for the kids. She gives the math problems (addition & subtraction). I didn’t start doing that kind of stuff until kindergarten and 1st grade! They also have reading assignments and they have to practice writing their letters and numbers. Well naturally since I was watching her after school I made sure that her homework was done. This teacher is very strict. She wants the homework to be absolutly perfect. Perfect handwriting. No mistakes. No eraser marks. Ofcourse I won’t let my cousin turn in homework that isn’t correct. But naturally she is going to mess up and she will have to erase.

 

After about a month. My aunt tells me that she got a call from my cousins teacher saying that the preschool homework has been very sloppy. She doesn’t accept sloppiness. I got upset because, the teacher has been sending my cousins homework back with happy faces and stars. Nothing about the appearance. My aunt once sat with me while I was helping her with her homework and told my cousin what a good job she was doing. If her homework is so sloppy, why wait a month to say something? I am not an expert in early childhood education but what 4 year old, who is just starting to learn to write is going to have perfect handwriting? I am not saying that we shouldn’t have hig expectations, but should we also be realistic?

 

I am not an early childhood education expert, so I don’t know what the expectation is. Short of me doing the homework for her, I don’t know what more I could have done.  This is definately not developmentally appropiate and makes me wonder how she got to be “the best” teacher.


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Why Create a Science Corner in Your Preschool Program?

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Why Create a Science Corner in Your Preschool Program?  

by: Gail Leopold (admin)

 



Science on the preschool level does not have to delve deep into the scientific method or theory – but rather should present an interesting exposure of the scientific world to beginners seeing it all for the first time. There is no testing involved – just playing around with the amazing concepts that abound in our natural world.  Concepts like color, nature, weather, water, magnets, animals and much more.   Providing a special interest area or science learning center in your program can offer many hands-on opportunities and activities that will fascinate and teach curious children.  




Preschool children are like little scientists – they are curious about the world around them.  Every day is a new exploration for knowledge and growth.  They want to know why clouds move and how spiders make webs and how a tiny seed can make a giant sunflower or why it rains.  These ideas are all science and nature-related  themes that are appropriate for the early childhood education curriculum.  

Young children may not be able to process the information completely and are satisfied with very simple and basic answers but exposing them to these concepts will build the foundation for a deeper understanding of science in the world as they grow and mature.  Being aware of insects and plants and weather and animals is the first building block of knowledge upon which more building blocks will be stacked.  Knowledge comes in baby steps as children mature and their cognitive abilities grow.  

Implementing a Science Corner or Science Center into your program, classroom or home is not difficult to do.  Over time you will see the value in it as the children are repeatedly drawn into this area to explore, learn and discover new things. Choose a corner of the room  or special area that has a window nearby, if possible.  You can place a small table in this area or put up a few shelves or countertop type of setup.  Add a few small chairs.  The first things to gather are some related books.  A small collection will do.  Picture books help children to visualize concepts.  Include age appropriate books related to the weather, dinosaurs, baby animals, gardening and plants, insects, planets and the solar system, color, sounds, and more.

Add some items that the children can touch and explore.  You want this to be a hands-on center.  Magnifying glasses are great for looking at rocks up close or to see a leaf in great detail or an insects eyes. During a Self-Awareness Unit you can show children how amazing their fingerprints are or the bumps on their tongues using a magnifying glass!  

Children will bring the outdoors inside – that’s what they do and they need permission to do that.  They enjoy rocks, leaves and finding treasures such as acorns and pinecones and broken Robin’s eggs.  Allow them to add these special things to the Science Corner so they can have some ownership and pride in participating.  

Have a few empty bug jars handy so the children can collect their findings from outside and look at them inside.  An ant, a caterpillar, a worm or a ladybug will fascinate a child who has the opportunity to hold it and view it safely without fear.  Add some magnets and things that are attracted to them (paper clips, etc).  Things that make noise such as a bell or wind chimes can also be added and will provide a sensory component. Adding different textures such as sandpaper, tin foil, fur, or ice can be explored when you are working on a theme about the ‘Five Senses.’

Include some measuring spoons and cups, rulers, a kitchen scale, rubber bugs, a kaleidoscope, flashlight, spinning tops, tweezers, thermometer,  a prism, a small mirror,  a cloth or plastic measuring tape, fresh flowers, pencils and paper for drawing and whatever else comes along that is related to science and nature.  Change the items out periodically and rotate with new items to keep it fresh and interesting to the children.  The ideas are endless.  The questions that these items inspire in preschoolers will also be endless and can lead to a variety of activities and lesson plans.




Have some live plants that children can water – teach them how often and how to do it.  Plant some seeds and watch them grow.  To eliminate jealousies over who gets to water the plants have this be the privilege of the ‘Child of the Week’ or ‘Student of the Week’.  Along with live plants you may want to add a live ‘pet’.  Some easy to care for pets include goldfish, hermit crabs, a frog or two, a hamster or a small lizard. Collecting some tadpoles from the local stream is a great learning activity.  You can get all the information you’ll need about that activity by just going online and searching. These things make your Science Corner come alive so to speak.  Children learn by observing and taking care of their pets.  Allow them to vote on a name for the pet and maybe even take turns taking it home, if parents agree of course.  If living things are not an option then pretend ones will do. Stuffed animals and realistic looking rubber bugs can be bought at most toy stores.  



A Science Corner will also create opportunities for additional curriculum ideas.  For example: if a child finds a worm on a rainy day or when digging in the garden and wants to know more you can create an entire lesson on the topic of WORMS!  Here are some activity ideas:

Dance:  Wiggle like a Worm while dancing to silly music.
Game: Find the W around the room.  Cut out some W’s and hide them around the classroom and see who can find them and  then count them (math).  
Art: String Paintings – dip strings into paint and drag it across paper for wiggly designs.
Letters: W is for worm – practice making the letter W in several ways. One way is to finger-paint it, another is to trace it in salt or shaving cream or pudding. And yet another way is to trace it into the palm of each others hands or on the child’s back (add a tickle!)
Snack: Have gummy worms for a treat or have watermelon for W.  
Math: Another extension of the watermelon is to glue ten seeds onto a paper and count them. Label the paper: ‘My Watermelon Seeds for W’ or something similar.  
Literacy:  Read a book about worms and why they are important.  
Science: Make a Worm Farm!  

Preschool lesson plans can be created for anything that sparks an interest in the children while they explore the Science Corner.  Another way to grab their interest is to place the supplies needed for a special experiment or activity in the Science Learning Center before the children arrive.  They will be curious when they see something new!  They will naturally ask and want to know what the supplies are for.  

Mixing Colors! Maybe you are doing a unit or theme on color and you place a few new eye droppers and a box of food coloring (empty of course!) in the Science Center.  That will lead the children to the main table where you will all perform the experiment of mixing colors with eye droppers and water to create new colors.  You can extend the activity by giving the children coffee filters to drop the colors onto to create a beautiful butterfly. Here is a link to this craft activity: http://www.crafts-for-all-seasons.com/coffee-filter-butterfly.html

Living Pets! You could place a new container of fish food in the Science Center and see who finds it first before introducing the newest class pet (a goldfish!)  Kids love surprises and nothing more than a living thing to call their own.  

Planting Seeds! Maybe it is time to plant a small garden – you could have some seed packets in the science corner which will lead the children to planting the seeds – that is an entire curriculum unit in itself but you can see how a small idea can grow into a big learning lesson for children. Or it can be simplified into just planting seeds for a Mother’s Day gift.  

Cooking! You can put a box of brownie mix on the Science table to hint that you will be baking today – there are lots of science and math concepts found in that activity as well.  A new kite? Yep – a wind and weather unit.  Everything has the potential to become a lesson in the preschool world!

For the Birds! What will they guess if they find a new bag of birdseed in the science corner?  A bird unit!  Backyard bird feeders are a great way for children to observe nature in action.  Add a few pair of binoculars to Science Corner so the kids can observe the birds from a distance when they feed.  In this unit children can take responsibility for filling the feeder.  They will learn the names of common birds in your area.  Going on a bird hunt becomes an adventure when your little ones are searching for birds and nests in your neighborhood trees.  They can count the birds, color pictures of birds, do birdseed art or craft activities, make pinecone bird feeders, read books about birds, sing songs about birds, and much more.  Ask the children what will happen if they plant some of the bird seed?   Find out by planting the bird seed! If you are really ambitious there is a very interesting program called ‘The Great Backyard Bird Count’ that you and the children can get involved in.  The website is www.GBBC.com It is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds and has a website full of interesting links.

Here is another example on how to extend an idea or science and nature theme into all of the preschool curriculum areas.

Zoo Animals (or substitute Farm Animals)

Field Trip
: Visit a Zoo or Petting Farm or local Veterinarian (or invite one to visit!)
Art: Make paper bag puppets of lions, tigers, giraffes, etc.
Dramatic Play: Face paint the children and create  zoo cages with streamers from ceiling to floor in the corners of the facility.  Give the children yarn tails.
Music: Dance around as animals to some Zoo or animal songs.
Snack: Animal Crackers or eat Zoo Food (green leaves such as spinach or lettuce and fruits cut into small pieces.
Large Motor Skills: Play a game of ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’ (Simon Says)
Reading / Literacy: There are many books available about Zoo animals to read or make your own experience book based on the field trip to the Zoo.  Add photos you take at the Zoo and have it laminated.  The children can also take turns sharing it at home with their families.
Math: While at the Zoo have the children count how many zebras or  and ask how many legs do you see?  How many ears are there in the giraffe exhibit? How many penguins are there?  Write the answers down and take a picture – you can create a counting book later that the children will love to read over and over – “Our Day at the Zoo”.  (Make sure you take pictures of the children too – as they love to read about themselves!)




You get the idea?!  Anything can become an extended lesson in the preschool curriculum because one thing leads to another and it’s all related somehow.  Ask yourself how you can use your ‘main theme idea’ in the areas of art, math, movement, reading, writing, music, science, nature, etc.  Then let the children explore these activities in their special Science Corner and you will be amazed at how they are drawn into the world of science and nature at such a young age!

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The Journey to College Starts Early (Preschool)

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This video from the Harlem Children’s Zone shows the importance of Early Childhood Education Programs.

The Harlem Children’s Zone believes that education should begin before kindergarten. Watch this video to learn about our Early Childhood Program, which includes The Baby College, The Three-Year-Old Journey and the Harlem Gems pre-school programs.

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Fun and Easy Nursery Rhyme Activities

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Fun and Easy Nursery Rhyme Activities
By Beverly Frank

Nursery rhymes are a great way to bond with your children as they learn new skills. Creating fun nursery rhyme activities takes only a few minutes of prep time and inexpensive craft items you probably already have around the house.

Collect some empty toilet paper rolls and make a toilet paper nursery rhyme character. You will need two or three empty toilet paper rolls, glue, scissors, glue, and markers. Draw Little Red Riding Hood or other characters and glue them to the toilet paper rolls. Keep all your props in a bag and use them each time you read nursery rhymes with your children.

The nursery rhyme matching game is a fun activity to play with your children. Pick two characters from each nursery rhyme that coordinate together and place them on card stock and laminate them. For example, you can have a card with a cow jumping over the moon and another card with a dish and a spoon to represent Hey Diddle Diddle. Draw the characters with your child and laminate them once you are done so they don’t get damaged.

Coloring is a wonderful way to allow your children to let their imagination run wild. Give your child a piece of paper and have them draw different characters. You will need construction paper, tissue paper, glue, paint, markers and any other supplies you can think of. Let your child glue, draw, and decorate the nursery rhyme characters any way they like.

A fun nursery rhyme activity you can re-create with your child is Baa, Baa Black Sheep. Using some paper, cotton balls, paint, and markers, you and your child can make several sheep from the nursery rhyme. Paint a few of the cotton balls black to make some of the sheep Baa, Baa Black Sheep.

If you have ever played the game “Name that Tune”, then you will love playing “Name that Nursery Rhyme.” For a party, divide everyone into two equal groups and read one or two lines of a popular nursery rhyme. Give each team a set amount of time to guess the rhyme, and if they don’t guess it in time, add another line to the rhyme and allow both teams a chance to guess the rhyme again. Each time you need to add a line to the rhyme, you will take away a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winning team.

Another fun nursery rhyme activity you can participate in with your child is a Rock a Bye Baby prop. In order to make the prop, you will need paper, paint, crayons and precut babies. On a blank sheet of paper have your child design a blanket. Wrinkle the paper until it becomes soft like a blanket. Then give your child a precut baby to rock in the blanket. You can also use scrap material as your blanket instead of using paper. Head over to your local retail store and purchase some straws, paper, and paint. You will be creating fun puff art that allows children to pretend like they are the Big Bad Wolf or other characters in the stories they read. Puff art is a cheap and easy way to let children use their imagination and make a cool piece of art.

You can find other nursery rhyme activities online. Several web sites that sell educational supplies will have nursery rhyme activities you can purchase. You can also check with your child’s teacher about suppliers where you can purchase different nursery rhyme activities to play with your child.

Visit http://www.NurseryRhymesOnline.com for a large collection of illustrated nursery rhymes and more ideas for do-it-yourself nursery rhyme activities.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Beverly_Frank
http://EzineArticles.com/?Fun-and-Easy-Nursery-Rhyme-Activities&id=1708495


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The Importance of Early Childhood Education

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The Importance of Early Childhood Education

By Dr. David Carey
The Importance of Early Childhood Education

The best predictor of a good ending is a good beginning. The old adage is a true today as when it was first uttered so long ago that no one can clearly say who first spoke those words. When it comes to the education of young children this proverb has such tremendous relevance that it is hard to overstate its importance. All learning and life experience is moulded by what happens to the child in the early years of his or her life. The influence of the family is of major importance but the influence of the educational opportunities offered to young children is just as powerful and, in some ways, more powerful. For it is the impact of early childhood education that determines the attitude a child will take to formal schooling at primary or secondary level.

The world today is a troubled place. We seem to be getting better at hating one another. We seem less and less able to accept people who are different from us. In a world riddled with violence, crime, bullying, chaos and unpredictability we have to ask some important questions. Why is it that some children

Do not become violent?

Do not become bullies?

Do not become depressed?

Do not loath themselves and others?

Do not despair and give up on life?

These may not be the most profound questions being posed in today’s world but they are among the most important. Where can we turn to discern the answers to these questions? What do we know that can help us unpack the issues embedded in them and come to a vision of how to raise and educate young children?

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The answers to these and other questions about children are emerging from new research about how the human brain grows and develops. Although we are a long way off knowing exactly who we can prevent violence and depression we have learned a good deal about how to foster the brain’s potential as an organ to help children grow to become contributing and productive members of society. Before we explore some of the implications from this research we need to briefly review the five areas of development that all children pass through during childhood.

Understanding Child Development

There are five areas of development that children undergo as they grow to be young adults. These steps appear in a rather predictable sequence, one after the other. They are not like steps of a ladder leading to higher and higher levels. Rather, they are like a spiral of stages through which a child cycles endlessly as they grow and mature. At some point the highest level of attainment may not be reached in a given area but that does not mean the child cannot progress to other areas of the spiral.

The five areas of child development are:

Physical

Intellectual

Linguistic

Emotional

Social

They can be easily remembered by the use of the rather unfortunate acronym “PILES”.

Physical Development

This area of child development is no doubt the easiest to understand and observe. Physical development includes: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, motor control, motor coordination and kinaesthetic feedback. Let’s explain each of these briefly.

Gross motor skills are those movements of the large muscles of the legs, trunk and arms.

Fine motor skills are the movements of the small muscles of the fingers and hands.

Motor control is the ability to move these large and small muscles.

Motor coordination is the ability to move these muscles in a smooth and fluid pattern of motion.

Kinaesthetic feedback is the body’s ability to receive input to the muscles from the external environment so the person knows where his body is positioned in space.

Intellectual Development

This area relates to the level of intelligence of a child in general and to the various aspects of intelligence that influence overall level of general ability. Among these many aspects are:

Verbal skills-our ability to communicate with words our ideas, attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and emotions.

Non-verbal skills-our ability to use visual and spatial-perceptual skills to interpret the world around us.

Attention span-the ability to sustain a focus on a stimulus for a sufficient period of time to interpret it and understand it.

Concentration-our ability to utilise attention to juggle stimuli into various permutations as necessary to analyse it accurately.

Visual-motor skills-the ability to coordinate the movements of the eyes and hands to manipulate objects effectively.

Visual-perceptual skills-the ability to analyse stimuli visually without necessarily manipulating them manually.

Memory-can be auditory or visual (or even kinaesthetic as in the case of remember dance steps) and can be divided into some important sub-types:

– Immediate recall-ability to hold input long enough to recall it straight away if required to do so

– Short-term memory-ability to hold input over a longer period of time, perhaps minutes or hours

– Long-term memory-ability to store input and recall is well after it has been perceived, perhaps days or months, even years later

Linguistic Development

Linguistic development refers to language usage. Like other areas of child development it can be divided into sub-types.

language-our ability to understand spoken language when we hear it

Expressive language-our ability to use spoken language to communicate to others

Pragmatic language-the ability to understand humour, irony, sarcasm and know how to respond appropriate to what another has said or asked as well as know when to wait and listen

Self-talk-the ability to use internal, silent language to think through problems, cope with difficulties and postpone impulses

Reasoning-the ability to think through problems, usually with self-talk but at other times aloud, create plans of action using words

Creative thinking-although not strictly a linguistic function I include it here because many people use language creatively, in new and inventive ways (e.g. Joyce, Beckett)

Emotional Development

This aspect of development, along with social development, is probably one of the most underrated but yet most important aspects of learning how to live in the world. No matter how excellent intellectual, physical and linguistic development may be we are doomed to live lives of frustration and difficult if we have not gained satisfactory emotional development. It includes:

Frustration tolerance-the ability to cope effectively when things do not go the way we want or expect

Impulse control-the ability to think before we act and not do everything that comes into our head
Anger management-ability to resolve conflict without recourse to verbal or physical violence

Inter-personal intelligence-understanding the attitudes, beliefs and motivations of others

Intra-personal intelligence-understand our own attitudes, beliefs and motivations

Social Development

Sharing-knowing how to ask to use the materials that belong to another

Turn-taking-knowing when it is your turn to do something and when to ask if you can do it

Cooperation-the skills of working with others towards a group goal of task
Collaboration-the ability to communication your input in a meaningful way when working with others.

gain it is necessary to repeat that emotional and social development play a hugely important role in our ability to live lives of dignity and respect. They also largely determine how well we will get along with workmates, bosses and loved ones including life-partners.

When we recognise that all children pass through each area of development we design educational programme for them that are developmentally appropriate. Most pre-schools have done just that. Unfortunately many early years settings succumb to pressure and push children towards academic goals and objectives, sometimes almost obsessively. Indeed, the curriculum in our junior and senior infant classes is largely developmentally inappropriate. It is far too teacher and parent-centred and far too little child-centred. Regardless, appropriate or inappropriate, it is not enough to focus on child development alone in our work with young children. We must begin to recognise the inborn potential locked within the child’s brain.

The Human Brain

Locked inside the brain are the potentialities that make us human. We are born with the potential for:

Love    Hate

Patience   Mistrust

Tenderness   Violence

Hope    Despair

Trust    Suspicion

Dignity    Corruption

Respect   Revenge

It is the responsibilities of adults to unlock the positive potentialities of the brain and prevent the negative from appearing.

All educational experiences of children in the early years, indeed all educational experiences of children across the entire school years, must place an emphasis on releasing the positive potential that lies within the brain. Recent brain research, much of it conducted by Dr. Bruce Perry in Texas, has illuminated six core strengths, each of them related to brain growth and development that must be a focus in development appropriate educational programmes for young children.

The Six Core Strengths

Bruce Perry and his colleagues at the Child Trauma Academy in Texas have identified six strengths that are related to the predictable sequence of brain growth and development. These six strengths, if nurtured and fostered appropriately, will help a child grow to become a productive member of society. They are:

Attachment

Self-regulation

Affiliation

Attunement

Tolerance

Respect

Attachment

The first of the six core strengths occurs in infancy. It is the loving bond between the infant and the primary caregiver. Early attachment theorists’ conceiver of the primary caregiver as the mother but it is now recognised that it could as well be the father, grandparent or any loving person. The primary giver, when providing consistent and predictable nurturing to the infant creates what is known as a “secure” attachment. This is accomplished in that rhythmic dance between infant and caregiver; the loving cuddles, hugs, smiles and noises that pass between caregiver and infant. Should this dance be out of step, unpredictable, highly inconsistent or chaotic an “insecure” attachment is formed. When attachments are secure the infant learns that it is lovable and loved, that adults will provide nurture and care and that the world is a safe place. When attachment is insecure the infant learns the opposite.

As the child grows from a base of secure attachment he or she becomes ready to love and be a friend. A secure attachment creates the capacity to form and maintain healthy emotional bonds with another. Attachment is the template through which we view the world and people in it.

Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the capacity to think before you act. Little children are not good at this, they learn this skill as they grow if they are guided by caring adults who show them how to stop and think. Self-regulation is the ability to take note of our primary urges such as hunger, elimination, comfort and control them. In other words, it is the ability to postpone gratification and wait for it to arrive. Good self-regulation prevents anger outbursts and temper tantrums and helps us cope with frustration and tolerate stress. It is a life skill that must be learned and, like all the core strengths, its roots are in the neuronal connections deep inside the brain.

Affiliation

Affiliation is the glue of healthy human relationships. When children are educated in an environment and facilitates positive peer interactions through play and creative group learning projects they develop the strength of affiliation. It is the ability to “join in” and work with others to create something stronger and more lasting than is usually created by one person alone. Affiliation makes it possible to produce something stronger and more creative than is accomplished by one alone. Affiliation brings into the child’s awareness that he or she is not an “I” alone but a “We” together.

Attunement

Attunement is the strength of seeing beyond ourselves. It is the ability to recognise the strengths, needs, values and interests of others. Attunement begins rather simply in childhood. A child first recognises that I am a girl, he is a boy. Through the early years of education it becomes more nuanced: he is from India and likes different food than I, she is from Kenya and speak with a different accent than I. Attunement helps children see similiarities rather than differences because as the child progresses from seeing different colour skin and different ways of speaking he or she begins to recognise that people are more similar than different. That brings us to the next core strength.

Tolerance

When the child develops the core strength of attunement it learns that difference isn’t really all that important. The child learns that difference is easily tolerated. Through this learning the child develops the awareness that is difference that unites all human beings. Tolerance depends on attunement and requires patience and an opportunity to live and learn with people who at first glance seem “different”. We must overcome the fear of difference to become tolerant.

Respect

The last core strength is respect. Respect is a life-long developmental process. Respect extends from respect of self to respect of others. It is the last core strength to develop, requires a proper environment and an opportunity to meet a variety of people. Genuine respect celebrates diversity and seeks it out. Children who respect other children, who have developed this core strength, do not shy away from people who seem different. An environment in which many children are grouped together to learn, explore and play will foster the core strength of respect.

How the Brain Grows

The brain grows from the bottom to the top. Each of the core strengths is related to a stage and site of brain growth. In infancy attachment bonds are acquired and lay down emotional signals deep within the brain. At the same time the brain stem is seeing to it that bodily functions can be self-regulated. Later on in childhood the emotional centres of the brain come under increasing control so temper tantrums disappear and the child controls their emotional life. In mid-childhood the child’s brain begins to develop the capacity to think and reflect on the external environment. It is at this stage when the frontal areas of the brain begin to mature and it is at this stage in brain growth when the core strengths of affiliation, attunement, tolerance and respect can mature as well.

The Classroom and the Brain’s Core Strengths

The education of young children must be undertaken with the core strengths in mind. Classrooms where there is peace and harmony among a wide variety of children will create opportunities for affiliation, tolerance and respect to develop. These classroom must be characterised by play, creative exploration of objects, lessons which are activity-based not teacher-lectured. There must be challenge to the brain in the form of innovative lessons and teaching methodologies. Cooperative learning activities must be part of the school day. The classroom should occasionally consist of an opportunity to engage in cooperative, mixed-ability groupwork. There must be an opportunity for long-term, thematic projects to be explored. The teacher should be a guide, always teaching with the core strengths in mind, always observing children and noticing which of them need more structure and guidance as they grow through the core strengths. The teacher must also be a person the children perceive as predictable and caring, patient and kind; a person who will not obsessively focus on mistakes.

Whose Responsibility is It?

We have learned that the child’s brain grows in a predictable sequence and associated with this growth are six core strengths for healthy living in the world. Every child is born with a brain possessing the potential to full develop these core strengths. However every brain must have an opportunity to interact with a classroom and home environment that facilitates the development of these strengths. It is the responsibility of adults, particularly parents and teachers to get it right.

David J. Carey, Psy.D.
297 Beechwood Court
Stillorgan
Dublin, Ireland
http://www.davidjcarey.com

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ABC Games for Kids: Finding the Best Toddlers Games and Kids Activities Online

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ABC Games for Kids: Finding the Best Toddlers Games and Kids Activities Online
By Jess Singler

Parents and preschool teachers are always looking for the best and newest games for the little ones in their lives. While most of the latest toddlers games can be found online via a simple search engine lookup, there are many things that can be overlooked when searching for the right games for your kids. Below we will discuss the old standards as well as the newer school options when it comes to finding the best games and activities for your toddler.

Many of the old school ABC games for kids come in the usual blocks and puzzle varieties which do tend to keep even today’s modern kids interested and focused. While the standard wooden blocks and puzzle boards will always be a winner and tend to be cost efficient, newer and more interactive varieties are available in today’s internet realm. Some of the computer based programs and toddlers games can take a little bit of time to get acquainted to however they provide a much greater variety of play and selections for the youngsters using them.

Computer programs that are available for toddlers to help learn the alphabet are very highly recommended for today’s youngsters seeing that computers are a vital part of their lives even in their younger ages. The ability to customize these programs and use them over and over can be a great tool for your young kids. Most of the available programs will change up the games and activities so that kids can learn their alphabet in varying ways to enhance problem solving skills.

Beyond the puzzles and computer options in terms of ABC games for kids, parents and teachers can also be creative and come up with their own games and not rely on premade products. Need an idea? How about a simple letter recognition game where your child locates letters in a regular magazine and announces them out loud. Why not let your child locate animals or objects then you can write down the letters of that animal to allow verbal and visual recognition on multiple levels? There are many ways to let your kids learn the alphabet better and you can be creative in helping them in the process.

Our best piece of advice in trying to help your child learn their ABCs is to have fun! Your kid does not want to learn via a stale, static method and they need to have an enjoyable experience so they’ll want to come back and do it again.

Want to find local toddlers games and other options in terms of ABC games for kids? Jess Singler is a frequent contributor to TotActivities.com which allows moms to find upcoming kids activities & baby classes nationwide.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jess_Singler
http://EzineArticles.com/?ABC-Games-for-Kids:-Finding-the-Best-Toddlers-Games-and-Kids-Activities-Online&id=5696224


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What are some fun, easy games for a Pre-school’s Fall/Halloween Party?

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I was talked into heading up my little girl’s fall party at school. (she’s in preschool). The class consists of three and four year olds and I really need help thinking of games that would be fun and easy to understand at their age level. The kids aren’t all 100% on ABC’s, numbers, or colors . . Its a hard level to think on for me. Anyone been through this and have ideas?


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Fun Play Doh Tips: Mix-Ins

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Play-Doh is a great sensory motor tool for children in preschool who are working on strengthening and developing their fine motor skills.  It is an awesome rainy day activity for kids and in fact at our daycare we saved it for inclement weather days to make it more special and something to look forward to.  We also would make our own homemade dough on color days (flour recipe below) and add green food coloring for green day or blue food coloring for blue day, etc. 


Mix-ins are just some fun things to add into the play-doh to make it even more of a sensory experience.  You can add a variety of food extracts (one at a time) to tickle the children’s noses!  Vanilla or Almond Extract offers a calm soothing scent.  Peppermint or orange citrus offers a brisk tingle and is great for mid-afternoon play when kids may need a mental energy boost.  For a new touch texture you can add in sand, salt or glitter for a little sparkle effect.  Strengthening those little finger and hand muscles is an important developmental process. 

Craft stores have a variety of oils for simmering to scent your home.  A few drops of apple-cinnamon or the scent of roses make for refreshing manipulative fun! You can’t help but join in and enjoy the aromas! If you have a favorite activity that your children enjoy for fine motor skills enhancement please feel free to share below! 

 

HOMEMADE Play Doh Recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Food coloring
Mix and knead together.
This playdoh is not sticky and does not dry out.
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