By Beth Pinyerd
April 13 to 17 is the “Week of the Young Child” as proclaimed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is a large nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education for teachers, families of young children, trainers and directors. The National Association of Young Children’s purpose is to focus on the improvement of young children with quality education and developmental programs and services from birth through age 8.
Even though the schools are closed we can still celebrate the “Week of the Young Child” by following the themes for each day in planning from home.
1) Music Monday – Early language and literacy skills for young children can be developed through the movement in music. Even little babies are very aware and sensitive to the rhythm, intonation, and tempo of music. It’s such a joy to hear mommies singing to their babies. An infant quickly recognizes his mother’s voice. Young children love to repeat familiar tunes. Toddlers are great little imitators. They love to do songs that involve motions with their hands and feet. Preschool age children enjoy music just for music! They are not concerned about pitch or the right key. I love to hear young children hum when they are playing and doing their little jobs. In celebrating Music Monday, wake up your child with a cheerful song! Lower the windows in this beautiful Spring weather for your children to listen to the morning chirps of the birds. In taking afternoon naps or going to sleep in the night, putting on CDs of lullabies relaxes your child and helps your child to drift off to sleep.
Around your house, young children love to make their own homemade instruments with paper plates, beans, rice, pots, pans, spoons, or other kitchen utensils. Paper plates stapled together with beans and rice to put in the middle make for good tambourines. Empty oatmeal boxes make good drums!
Make moving exercises with music a family affair! Young children love to dance, skip, run, and jump to different rhythms. Do a family music train! It is so much fun to imitate animals to the sound of music. Clapping a simple rhythm helps your young child with comprehension and memory making.
2) Tasty Tuesday – In teaching preschoolers over many years, I love to include cooking as part of my lesson plan for language arts, math, science as well as social studies. In doing recently in the schools, the Dr. Seuss theme “Green Eggs and Ham” seems to be a favorite dish with preschoolers and kindergarteners. Judi Barrett’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” invites many fun dishes to fix. Reading “Stone Soup” by Tom Chapin can be made into a family project by using different ingredients to make the soup. These can be checked out from the library an too online resources on favorite books from the library can be checked out. In teaching young children the letters and their sounds, you can include your preschool little chef in making simple dishes like “A” for apple in making apple sauce; “B” for banana in making banana pudding and “C” for cookie in having your preschooler to help you make cookies, etc.
In cooking projects with your preschoolers keep the cooking project basic and simple and according to your preschoolers’ skills. Guide your preschooler as letting their little hands help you cook. Language arts is included in a cooking lesson when your preschooler follows a recipe by orally going over the recipe step by step or even drawing pictographs of the recipe steps for your young child to follow. Math is included in the cooking lesson when you and your child have to count out ingredients or measure ingredients. Ask math questions of different amounts of ingredients. If the recipe requires baking also, you can let them observe you to set the temperature on the oven.
3) Work Together Wednesday – In the early childhood classroom, children work together in learning centers such as the block center, dramatic play center, art center, puzzle center, etc. The children play and work together in these centers under the facilitating guidance of their teacher. Being at home right now as a family you can plan family projects that include your young children. Children love to help! There are many readiness and academic lessons to be learned through household chores that truthfully aid in your child’s developmental learning. Sorting laundry into piles like the family’s dirty or clean clothes, they can sort what belongs to mom, dad, brother or sister too, they can sort and pair up socks that are alike and different. Your young children can help to set the table like counting how many family members you have and how many plates, cups, forks, knives will be needed for each family member teaches your child about patterning and one to one correspondence. If your home requires yard work, don’t forget to assign a job to your young children that he or she can do safely. Camping at home is a wonderful family project of togetherness in playing games, singing familiar songs, telling and reading stories, and cooking favorite camp foods like S’mores!
4) Artsy Thursday – Children love being creative! Play-Doh is an absolute favorite in making favorite creations like bird’s nests, frogs, snakes, trucks, people, etc. Children love to use their hands to create! Children can take a nature walk around the home and do nature art like collecting flowers, leaves, pebbles or any nature items they find on their walk. They can observe the weather and do weather art with crayons, cotton balls, etc. Save toilet tissue and paper towel rolls and any other scraps of materials. Your trash will become your preschoolers’ treasure. Support your preschooler if they need help in their art projects but let them do the project themselves.
5) Family Friday – This is a wonderful theme day where you can celebrate each member of the family. Have a family celebration party on this day of having members of the family to explain why each family member is special to them. Your young children will love to celebrate this positive experience as families show appreciation for each other. Young children can draw pictures for family members, make little handmade gifts for family members, helping family members with tasks, and too have a sharing time of why each family member is so special to the family, including your young children.
I hope this article will help families to celebrate “The Week Of The Young Child.”