Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Manners: Beyond Please and Thank You

In these early years we set the groundwork for the type of language that our children will use as well as how they will use it. This is where manners and politeness in your child's environment enter the picture.

Starting from the beginning, keep these tips in mind:

1. Use language in front of your child that you would wish him or her to learn. Even if your child is just an infant.

2. The relationship between you and your spouse will be the primary example of appropriate language use that your child learns. Think about the ethics, manners, level of politeness, discussion, ways of disagreeing, and so forth that you would like him or her to learn from you.

3. Speak to your child as if he or she is an intelligent and worthwhile person, and that is what you will receive that the end! Make sure whomever cares for your child in your absence shares this view.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Infant and Toddler Language Development: Naming and Identification

Introduce your child to the names of things and people in his or her environment.

This comes naturally at first. For example, "Mommy" or "Daddy" are easy to introduce.

Other family members and friends can be introduced when your child meets them, too.

Now consciously work to introduce your child to the names of objects in his or her immediate environment. Introduce place names, too, such as "bedroom" and "bathroom". For example, as you carry your infant into a room, you can say, "we are going to the living room."

Introducing the names of foods provides a wonderful opportunity to expand your child's knowledge of objects and the association with their names. Talk about peeling the banana and eating it.

Similarly, as you dress your infant (your toddler should be dressing him or herself), describe what you are doing to include the name of the item of clothing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Outdoor Practical Life

Try leaf collecting with your toddler or seated infant.

If your child can walk independently, you can provide him or her with a small paper or cloth shopping bag with a handle in which to collect fallen leaves.

You can make your own collection of leaves, too, or, if you are working with more than one child, all the children collect bags of leaves. Then conduct circle time outdoors on the lawn where each child can share his or her collection.

Select at least two or three leaves for identification. Make them easy ones such as maple, birch, and oak. You'll be surprised at how well young children remember these names and their associated shapes! Encourage your child to go and hunt for more of the same.

For a seated infant, you can sit down with him or her outdoors and reach for leaves to examine and put in the bag. If your child is still at a mouth-exploration stage, you can also set this up indoors using fruit and vegetables that can be put into a pan for washing. You can also provide a small pan of water for your child to wash them in. Remember to discuss and name whatever your child is handling -- cucumber, apple, et al.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Practical Life: Carrying for Gross Motor Skill and Coordination Development

As soon as your child can walk, he or she will want to follow you and join in whatever you are doing.

Try introducing a simple carrying exercise as a precursor to more formal Practical Life exercises later.

Here is one idea:
1. When you have a number of things that are light-weight and not breakable to carry, ask your child if he or she would like to help you. For example, carrying towels to the washing machine.
2. Your child can carry the towels one by one and put them in a basket by the washing machine. Towels are great because they do not need to be carried any specific way (unlike, say, a bottle that will spill).
3. You can start with a pile of five or so towels and see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Infants and Toddlers: Introducing New Vocabulary for Language Development

If you are using our infant and toddler albums, you will already be talking with your child using natural language and a full vocabulary, not a truncated "baby speak" type of dialog. In this case, it will be easy to integrate new vocabulary.

As September unfolds, use the changing season to introduce new vocabulary in context as you remark on the falling autumn leaves, the beautiful colors of the maple leaves as they turn red, and the shapes of leaves as you and your child gather them.

Take a walk with your child to collect leaves. Your child can collect whatever he or she likes, but you should collect one or two specimens of each type of tree. Take them home for discussion.

Even walking holding an infant, you can embark upon the same rich dialog and introduction of vocabulary. Sit down and let your infant touch and hold the leaves as you talk.

In the first year of Primary class, ages 2 1/2 to 3 1/2, children learn to work with cards and labels that contain the names of the shapes of leaves as well as trees, flowers, and other plants, so this is great preparatory work.