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Melissa and Doug Preschool Art Supplies

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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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Things to Add to Your Play-Doh (Dough) Basket

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What can you add to your Play Doh (dough) box or basket?

 

Play Doh is a great tool for building fine motor skills and small muscles in young children.  Children enjoy playing with it for long periods of time especially if they have some manipulatives to use.  I found it easier to manage my Play-Doh (dough) supplies by using one big container so I chose a large wicker basket with a handle.  The children could easily access all the supplies in there and cleanup was easy too.  Everyone just tossed everything back into the basket when they were done! 

What to put in the basket? 


All kinds of tools that the children can use to manipulate the dough will do.  Here is a partial list of items you can add.  Change it up anytime by adding new things and taking away old things.  Anything that can be pressed into Play Doh (dough) to adorn the children’s creations will work.  You are only limited by your own imagination and theirs. 

As the children press and pull and roll and shape and re-shape their works of art they are using and strengthening tiny muscles in their hands and fingers and even their arms.  This is a very improtant pre-writing activity as it in turn prepares their hands for future writing tasks with pencils when they go to school.  Grasping a pencil requires strength and does not come naturally.  It is something that takes time and by incorporating fine motor skills activities like simply breaking out the Play Doh, you are enhancing that growth and strength. 

You can make the dough a better sensory experience by adding a few drops of a food extract or adding some sand or glitter.

 

Straws

Tooth Picks

Feathers

Plastic Spoons, Forks and Knives

Cookie Cutters

Garlic Press

Pasta Wheel

Plastic Pizza Cutter

Play Dishes and Utensils

Toy Dinosaurs

Toy Animals and People

Legos and Small Toys

Small Beads or Pebbles

Rolling Pins

Popsicle Sticks

Plastic Kid-Safe Scissors

Wiggle Eyes (all Sizes)

Pom-Poms

Bottle Caps

String

Sewing Buttons

Dry Pasta Shapes

Toilet and Paper Towel Cardboard Tubes


Seasonal Items:

Acorns, Leaves, Pine Cones, Flowers, Seashells, Twigs, etc.

 

Sensory Items:

Glitter, Sand or Rice

Food Flavoring Extracts (Vanilla, Orange, Mint, Almond, Coconut, etc…)

Powdered Juice Mix / Cool Aid Powder

 

Safety First:  Remember that close adult supervision is always required for any arts & crafts activity with young children (especially under the age of 3) to insure appropriate use of the materials. Small items such as buttons and tiny wiggly eyes can be choking hazards. 

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How Many Parents of Preschoolers Find Teaching the Alphabet Difficult? ABC Kids Games?

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I’m writing a newsletter for parents, and don’t know if I should include a section on “Teaching the Alphabet.” Is this something parents are pretty comfortable with, or should I give some insight on ways to make learning the alphabet more meaningful and fun?Any ideas for ABC Kids Games and activities?


I think that your parents might find it very helpful. The alphabet is not something that you learn in order, but OUT of order and that is not a commonly known thing. Be sure to put lots of different ways to learn the alphabet in your section (tactile,sensory,songs, stories ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ is a good one). Congrats on having a good view of teaching and being willing to take the time and help out the ‘homefront’.

(See more ideas below!)

RAINY DAY PREK!

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Cool Activities and Fun Things for Kids to Do Indoors on a Rainy Day?

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Cool Activities and Fun Things for Kids to Do Indoors on a Rainy Day?

Need some ideas on fun activities that my kids can do when it’s raining outdoors? I hate for them to be stuck in front of the television & playstation all day.

Make Some Water Colors and
Paint a Picture

Mix the vinegar and soda together in a little bowl; add the corn starch and glycerin when the soda stops foaming. Stir in the water a little at a time, until your paint seems about the right thickness. This makes about 1/4 cup of stuff. Divide it into three or four little jars (baby food jars are perfect) and add about a drop of food color to each one. We usually make red, yellow, blue and green. Now find some paper, a brush and have fun!

Here’s what you’ll need for each color
1 tablespoon of vinegar
(either white or cider is OK)
2 tablespoons of baking soda
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1/2 teaspoon Glycerin
1 teaspoon of water
2 drops of food coloring

Blow Some Bubbles
Make Your Own
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 liquid dishwashing detergent
1 cup water
2 drops food coloring
Mix all the stuff together in a jar with a tight cover. Make a bubble wand using some wire, or use a purchased bubble pipe or wand. Store your bubbles at room temperature when you’re not using them.

 

Make Some Play Clay
and
Create Critters

Here’s what you’ll need:
A grown up person to HELP you.
1/2 cup table salt
(not kosher or sea salt)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cornstarch
a few drops of food coloring in 3 or 4 colors

 
Mix the salt and hot water in a large pan. PLEASE – don’t ever use the stove without a grown up to HELP you. OK? So.. ask your helper to bring the salt and water to a boil over high heat. Put the cold water in a small bowl and stir in the cornstarch. Add coloring now, if you want your clay to be red or green or yellow. We usually leave ours white and then paint our little critters with acrylic hobby paints. Now, add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling salt water and stir hard to keep it from lumping up. Continue cooking the clay over low heat until it becomes stiff.
After the cooked clay is stiff, carefully turn it out onto a bread board with a big spoon. Let it cool completely and then knead it until it gets smooth. Now it’s ready to use. Or, you can wrap it up tightly in plastic and store it in an air tight container for a few days.
Your clay critters can be preserved by letting them air dry at room temperature for 3 or 4 days, or by baking them in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 2 hours. Remember, you promised not to use the stove without a grown up to help you.

To make Christmas tree decorations, roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick, then use cookie cutters to make ornament shapes. Use a toothpick to make a hole at the top for a string or ribbon. Bake until dry and decorate any way you want.

Write a Play – then invite some friends over and Act it OUT!

Tear Up Last Week’s
Newspaper and
Make Some Papier-Mache`

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup white flour
2/3 cup water
Newspaper strips
(torn about 1 1/2 inches wide)
A hint – newspaper tears best from top to bottom. If you’re not getting even strips easily –
turn the paper around and tear from the other direction.
A small disposable container of some sort to use as the base for your project. A little cereal box, an empty plastic milk carton or soda bottle, a strong balloon that’s partly inflated

Mix the flour and water in a good sized bowl. It should be about like thick glue when you’ve mixed it all up. If you want it to be thicker or thinner – add more flour or water a LITTLE bit at a time.
Put down a thick layer of newspaper to work on – so you won’t make a mess on the table. Dip a strip of newspaper into the paste, gently pull it through your fingers to take off any extra paste. Now put it smoothly on the base for your project. Repeat with another strip and this time crisscross or overlap the first strip. Repeat again and again, until the base is completely covered in newspaper strips and the whole thing is about 1/4 inch thick. Set it aside to dry thoroughly.
When your project is dry you can decorate it with poster paints or hobby acrylic paints, bits of braid, buttons, lace, ribbon or anything that pleases you.

Make Some Finger Paints

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
3 tablespoons glycerin
a few drops of food coloring in assorted colors
Mix the flour and water in a good sized bowl. Divide the mixture equally into three or four smaller bowls. In each small bowl – stir constantly as you add 1 tablespoon glycerin and a drop or two of food coloring.
Put down a thick layer of newspaper to work on – so you won’t make a mess on the table.
Set a dishpan or large bowl of water nearby to rinse off hands between colors. Have fun! Hint: Pictures of the Kid’s hand prints are a favorite on the fridge at our house – cause then we can see how big they’ve grown. One year we even got a white sweat shirt with everyone’s hand prints all over it in primary colors of acrylic hobby paint. We still love that one!

Have fun
:D


RAINY DAY PREK !

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Parents, What Do You Do With Your Kids On A Rainy Day?

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Rainy Day Activities for Kids:

I stay at home with my 10 month old son everyday. We usually go for a walk and to the park to play every day. Well, its rainy today so that’s out of the question. Any fun indoor activity suggestions that I can do with my 10 month old? What activities do you do with your children when its a rainy day?


Where I live we get a lot of rain in the late fall, winter and early spring months. So I have learned to make the best of a little rain. Usually we throw on our rain gear, play in the puddles, go to the park/play ground or go for a walk. Of course rain being what it is, you can still only handle so much wet. So we do end up doing more indoor activities then normal that day. Things I Try And Plan For Rainy Days o Appointments (doctors, dentists, etc.) o Shopping (grocery, mall) o Play Dates/Groups o Special Cleaning Projects Things We Do On Rainy Days Indoors o Watch A Favourite Movie o Bake Cookies/Bread o Listen To My Kids Fav. Music (The Wiggles) o Sing Songs & Dance o Arts & Crafts o Play With Their Toys o Make A Blanket Fort o Read Books o Do Flash Cards o Blow Bubbles (Indoor Bubbles – Non Stick) As far as 10 month olds go why not play some fun music that your little one would enjoy. Something that he can dance to or do actions to (with your assistance of course). Another option is to pull out the arts & crafts. Do things like painting with hands or special shaped sponges. Bake something like cookies. Read some books together. Make a fort (I know my kids liked blanket forts at that age). Throw in one of your son’s favourite movies. Rainy days are just so blah! Its been raining here off and on most of the week. So we have the blanket fort set up and the colouring books laid out inside. =)

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Kids Crafts : How to Make Homemade Play Dough

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The ingredients for homemade play dough include alum, water, flour, salt, oil, measuring spoons, measuring cups, a mixing bowl and a mixing spoon. Add food coloring to homemade play dough to brighten it up for kids with help from a teacher in this free video on fun crafts for kids.

Expert: Stacey Olson Bio: Stacey Olson holds a Bachelor of Science in education and human sciences, with an endorsement in inclusive early childhood education.

Filmmaker: Jon Olson

Duration : 0:1:36

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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.

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Dramatic Play for Preschoolers – Darth Vader Super Bowl Commercial

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This SUPERBOWL 2011 Volkswagen commercial was a favorite! It shows the power of a preschooler at play. Young children love to play dress-up and pretend that they are someone else. Imaginative play allows them to ‘try on’ adult roles that may seem scary and overpowering to them in their small world.

As children play they express their thoughts, fears, feelings, and ideas with language. Through the use of language they practice social skills, negotiating and cooperative  skills, and conflict resolution techniques  with other children and teachers.  They draw on past experiences to solve problems and develop an  understanding of new concepts.

This commercial shows a little boy in full dramatic play mode where he truly believes that he has power like his super hero Darth Vader. Having a dress-up or housekeeping corner in your preschool or early childhood setting is an important part of your program. Fill it with costumes and adult sized items such as hats, shoes, capes and props in addition to child-sized items including dishes and tools, baby dolls and community helper outfits. To keep it interesting rotate items out each month and put new things in – keep changing it so the children can explore as many roles as possible. One day they may want to be a doctor and the next perhaps a construction worker like dad. The dramatic play area is also a great Rainy Day PreK activity for kids!

Enjoy the commercial again !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0

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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
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