Rolling out the Play-Doh

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By Beth Pinyerd

Classroom Observer

In spending time as a Classroom Observer over at Northside Intermediate School, I saw a portrait of my elementary school principal Alma Martin from the 1960s. Warm and loving thoughts came to my memory of how this principal molded, encouraged and loved each of her students in her care.
Martin had a way of spending individual time with each of her students. She wrote encouraging comments to each of her students on their report cards which truly made a lifetime impression for her students.
As I write and share this article, I am grateful for the time she spent with each of her students. She understood that each child is so very special.
With the 2019 school year beginning, our children will begin to learn new concepts and skills, which will hopefully result in them receiving verbal praise and nonverbal actions of encouragement. Help a child to begin their year in a positive way. I hope this article is just a gentle reminder that we all need a pat on the back, especially our children.
One of my favorite centers in the early childhood classroom is the Play-Doh center. I love to engage in the activities the Play-Doh center offers as much as the children, which serves as a free play outlet.
Free play is so important in the developmental steps of a young child. It is voluntary, spontaneous, open-ended play with no wrong or right answers. The reward and satisfaction to children is in the playing itself.
If you haven’t rolled a ball of Play-Doh into bird nests with little eggs inside the nest, a frog, rabbit, snakes, people, or pretend food, you should try it soon. I love all the bright colors Play-Doh now comes in. Children love to squash it, smash it and splat it.
Young children are moldable and bendable by the words we say to them. They need clear lines of rules and boundaries, but they also need words of encouragement in order to learn, grow, and just believe and know how special they are.
Like Play-Doh, they can be shaped into objects they don’t desire to be or into objects that radiate like the bright colors of Play-Doh. It is so heart warming to see a smile or a twinkle in a young child’s eyes when they are praised or encouraged for just who they are or what they do! Their crayon colored pictures are their masterpieces to their parents or teachers.
Take time to notice everything your child does, even if the glue is still wet and heavy. And hey, if they didn’t quite make the grade you had hoped for on that weekly spelling or math tests, praise them for who they are and how they tried ! Words and time spent with your young child are essential building blocks in their adjustment, well being, and good self esteem so they can then also reach out to others.
As a teacher of many years I’ve seen praise and encouragement really help children as they grow up. I want to share with you “Many Ways to Praise Kids” that was given to me many years ago by educators and teachers who taught me as well as fellow teachers. You may want to cut out, get a magnet, and put on your refrigerator as well in encouraging your young child.
Many Ways to Praise Kids:
“That’s incredible! How extraordinary! Far out! Outstanding performance! I can’t get over how well you’ve done! Great! Amazing effort! Unbelievable work! Wonderful! Marvelous! Phenomenal! You’ve got it superb! Cool! Excellent! You’re special! Your work is out of sight! Your project is first rate! You’ve outdone yourself! Way to go! Thumbs up! You’re a good friend! You came through! Terrific! You tried hard! Your help counts! You made it happen! It couldn’t be better! Fantastic work! You’re a real trooper! Fabulous! Bravo! Exceptional! You’re unique! Awesome! Breathtaking! The time you put in really shows! You’re a great example for others! Keep up the good work! I knew you had it in you! Dynamite! It’s everything i hoped for! You should be proud of yourself! Well done! You’re sensational! Very good! A+ work! Super job! Good for you! Take a bow! You figured it out! Great answer! You’re doing a lot better! Thanks for being honest! How artistic! You’re amazing! You’re getting there! What a great idea! You deserve a hug! Thanks for trying! You’re getting better! You’re a big help! You’ve got what it takes! You’re #1! You’re a shining star! You can be trusted! Wow! Remarkable! Beautiful! I’m proud of you! Very impressive! You’re sharp! You’re a winner! Hot dog! Spectacular work! You’re so kind! You’ve really grown up! What a great listener! Thanks for helping! Great discovery! You’ve earned my respect! Thanks for caring! You’re a-okay! You’re a great kid! How original! You’re a real champ! You’re pleasing to know! Very brave! What a genius! You’re very talented! You’re the greatest! You’re super! You’re on target!”
I hope this helps you in encouraging your child as well as yourself as a parent. And hey, don’t forget to try a little Play-Doh!
Beth Pinyerd
Classroom Observer

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