Attended my first local Parents and Babies Meet Up today around advice for early years kids. Couldn’t have asked for better timing as I’ve just started thinking about how and what to do with B lately, plus any changes needed with our home, caregivers and his weekly schedule to best foster his growth. Thanks to Shona Sanosi of the Blue House Nursery for her insight and guided tour on how they’ve developed a child-originated, teacher-framed curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. I’m even more convinced that I too can approach things a little differently (wholistically?) for B. Programs offered by Gymboree, Julia Gabriel and others here may supplement, but ultimately, it all begins at home…. with me!
Some food for thought:
- 5 developmental areas: Cognitive (learning, problem solving), Social and Emotional (independence, interaction, self control), Verbal (speech, language comprehension and use), Physical – Fine Motor (small muscles e.g. fingers), Physical – Gross Motor (large muscles e.g. sitting up)
- 3 stages of early childhood play: Solitary (first year), Parallel (~15 months on), Cooperative (~2.5 years on)
- 100 languages of children! (and school and culture have stolen 99)
- 3 key teachers: Parents, Teacher (or next closest caregiver), Environment
- Encourage solo play NOW even if it’s 10-15 mins at this time. Step in to affirm, distract, suggest but don’t set rigid times or move on too fast
- Keep an open, uncluttered environment throughout the home, not just in the kid’s room. Have space for teacher and child. Use shelves for display and discovery, not storage. Think “kid friendly resort.”
- Observe your child’s interests and preferences and build on it. Suggest new projects, activities and experiences based on what he does/says/enjoys. Let the child lead (in playtime) and you extend.
- Use open ended questions to think, communicate and imagine, e.g. “Why mommy?” “I don’t know. What do YOU think?”
- Be flexible and respectful. A project that may seem like it’s been running for ages, a silly question or art that doesn’t look like art could be significant for your child
- Set up a prepared environment. Provocation BEFORE your child enters playtime supports better and longer play
- Store everyday stuff that could be repurposed for playtime, e.g. bottles, covers, ribbons, boxes, etc
- Many mass market toys do not expand creativity. Find simple ways to transform toys and their positioning to keep them in good condition and sustain interest. E.g. rotate the baby gym, offer daily sensory boxes/baskets)
- Have realistic expectations. Keep play age and mood appropriate. Reassure and comfort, not challenge when he’s sick, hungry or tired
- 3-6 months is a perfect time to start!
- Need to find out more about Montessori vs Reggio Emilia 🙂
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