By Beth Pinyerd
March winds invite children and their families to fly! With children, I have always loved to have a kite-flying field trip.
Sometimes, there may be wind to carry kites, but on other occasions, it may be the child running with the kite to enhance it to fly! Looking at helium balloons, hot air balloons or bubbles excites children, often causing them to point up and look at where these “wind-catching” items are going. Their imaginations are also very colorful when they tell you what their kite sees or where their balloon may land.
This is such a good family language arts project. One of my first graders interestingly wrote that her kite went to heaven and saw streets of gold, lights and rainbows! She drew a picture to go with what she imagined her kite to see. As a parent and teacher, packing a child’s learning and emotional parachute in their early, critical years will guide them to safe landings in life. Here are some helpful tips and reflections I would like to share with families with young children.
Don’t we all love the toddlers and twos! During these years, a child grows up so quickly physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Their little personalities begin to emerge with their likes and dislikes of activities they like to do, foods they enjoy to eat, toys they like to play with and programs they enjoy. Even though this age group can be a challenge at times, just remember there are so many changes for a child and this is the time their independence as a person begins to blossom.
How can we as parents and teachers encourage this independence? This is where we need to provide opportunities for our toddlers and twos to be independent in carrying their backpacks, lunch-boxes and belongings into the preschool classroom and to allow them to bring their belongings back home. I used to think that being a good mother meant I had to do everything for my only child but a lot of wisdom from older mentoring mothers guided me to encourage independence in my young child by giving him simple jobs that he could do. This truly showed him love in making him begin to be independent. I was beginning to pack his parachute to be independent.
While teaching a toddler class recently, I started to clean up my classroom by stacking our little chairs. By the time I turned around to continue stacking chairs, this toddler class was like the “Shoemaker and the Elves” they had already stacked all the chairs! One little fellow even grabbed my cell phone and put it in my hand to be sure I didn’t forget it.
I had observed that their teachers provided many training opportunities during the day to be independent by being very clear in their instructions as well as giving them choices.
I love the enthusiasm that children ages three through six have for learning!
They love to explore, hear stories, play intently in centers and begin to understand that having friends is fun! With exploration, it is important to teach children this age to be safe.
With safety comes limitations and simple rules for your child to understand. For example, “if you touch the stove it will burn you.”
Setting up a schedule or routine for your preschooler is very good in guiding them toward independence. They know what to expect next and they can do it.
The morning routine of getting up in the morning, going to the bathroom, washing hands and face, brushing teeth, eating breakfast is a routine that becomes internal which young children know what to expect, which gives them security. An evening routine for a preschooler could include dinner, bath, brush teeth, a low-key, night-time activity such as reading a bedtime story.
Make a conscious effort to assign responsibilities to your preschoolers such as putting away their toys, feeding family pets, setting the table or picking up paper off the floor. Children love to have jobs.
In the early childhood classroom, we have job charts and children will remember and look forward to doing a special job that has been assigned to them.
Affirm your child by spending time with them in communicating with them on what is going to happen each day. This shows a child that you respect them as a person.
The young years of a child’s life pass by so quickly! Savor each moment of joy with your children!
Oh the places you’ll go as you spend time with a young child and look at the world through their eyes. The gift of time and trying these few general simple guidelines I hope will benefit you and your child to fly high in life!
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. The Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.