Monthly Archives

December 2016

Encouraging School Readiness Skills in Preschoolers

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The following is an article written by Katelyn Vickers for the Himama Childcare and Preschool Blog. This is the article in its entirety, it is presented here in this format in order to preserve the assertions made by the original author.

 

“The preschool years are a time when parents and educators should focus on helping a child develop the tools they need to succeed before heading to formal K-12 schooling. Developing these school readiness skills will prepare children for optimal learning throughout their educational journey.

Keep in mind that being ready for school means more than being ready to learn about math, language and science. Preschoolers must possess certain emotional skills and be prepared to socialize and play with a broad range of children with different backgrounds and interests as well.

The following is a look at some of the school readiness skills that early learning frameworks suggest a young child should possess before they head off to kindergarten:

Language Development

Before starting school, preschoolers must be able to clearly communicate their wants and needs. They should be able to understand and answer questions, and feel comfortable speaking with teachers and other students. These basic communication skills will form the foundation for future literacy skills.

Self-Control

Preschoolers should understand appropriate behaviors and limits before attending kindergarten. Do they understand when it is ok to be loud, and when it is quiet time? Do they know when and where it is appropriate to play? Self-control is a critical school readiness skill that must be mastered to succeed in a classroom setting.

Self-Confidence

A confident child is more open to new experiences and learning opportunities, and is better equipped to interact with other children. Teaching a child to become confident in their abilities is key to helping them feel comfortable working independently as well as in group scenarios.

Fine Motor Skills

These skills are essential to success in kindergarten. Many activities will involve holding a pencil, using scissors or other actions that require the child to effectively manipulate an object or perform a task.

Social Skills

A child should be able to engage in reciprocal interaction with others their own age, both verbally and non-verbally. They should understand how to compromise with their peers and take turns in conversation and during playtime.

Self-Care

Before attending kindergarten, a preschooler should be able to care for themselves when it comes to daily activities. Getting dressed, brushing teeth and opening a lunchbox are just a few examples of the self-care skills a child should learn to be successful and develop a sense of independence.

Thinking Skills

Children should understand basic cognitive concepts such as object permanence, cause and effect, and be eager to learn more. Parents and preschool educators should foster curiosity and encourage children to keep asking, “why?” to develop their cognitive skills.

Pre-Writing Skills

Before they are able to write, preschoolers should possess some of the skills necessary to make the learning process easier. From holding a pencil properly to drawing basic shapes and lines, these skills are the basis for legible writing.

Increasingly, children are entering school without having developed these essential skills for success. To avoid leaving your child behind, both early childhood educators and parents should play a role in preparing preschoolers for kindergarten, helping them develop important social, emotional and learning skills.”

Source: https://www.himama.com/encouraging-school-readiness-skills-in-preschoolers

 

Healthy Holiday Snacks

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With the holiday season comes a lot of time with family and friends…and a lot of time eating food that maybe is not so great for us. So in order to balance some of the not so healthy eating that may be happening over the holidays, here are some healthy, and fun, holiday recipes for the kids.

  1. Cucumber Christmas Tree: This one is easy and looks so cute! Just cut a cucumber into slices, slightly on a diagonal and then press them into a skewer to make a tree. Add peppers of various colours on top of the cucumbers for “decorations”
  2. The Grinch Fruit Kabobs: skewer a grape, banana slice, and strawberry (in that order) to make a Grinch wearing a Christmas hat.
  3. Pita Tree Snacks: cut pita into triangles; spread them with hummus or a guacamole or a spread of your choosing. Use peppers to add decoration and some healthy veggies!
  4. Snowman Cheese Strings: these are just fun for packing a lunch. Take a white cheese string, tie a ribbon around it for a scarf and tape a black paper hate to the top. Draw a face and buttons with marker on the plastic.
  5. Cracker Snacks: these ones are really easy and open to whatever you want to create! Let the kids help for some fun. Put out cucumbers, olives, capers, peppers and tomatoes, create different shapes and patterns on the crackers that match the holidays like Rudolph with a tomato nose, a snowman with black olive eyes, or a cucumber Christmas tree.

For full pictures and more recipes visit (source): http://www.cleanandscentsible.com/2013/11/healthy-christmas-food-ideas.html

 

Fun Activities for the Snow

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Well, since it snowed again overnight in the Lower Mainland, we thought today we would share some fun activities for kids to do in the snow! This great list from happyhooligans.ca includes:

  1. Snow Play with Sticks and Stones: this one is obviously a classic. Building a snowman often requires sticks and stones, or a carrot nose, but let kids get creative and have fun searching for those items to build the features of their snowman, or don’t even build a snowman at all! Use your sticks and stones for some other sculpture.
  2. Coloured Ice Sculptures: freeze some ice cubes in trays with various colours of food colouring. It is best if they are frozen the night before. Then on a nice cold, snowy day, gear up, take your ice cubes outside and bring a bottle of water. The liquid water will help the ice cubes stick together and you can build a sculpture in the snow! It will also be fun to watch it melt over time.
  3. Snow Sensory Bin Play: this one is pretty simply but still great, especially if you want to remain indoors. Collect some of that snow that has fallen outside into a bucket, throw some toys or miscellaneous items in throughout the snow and let children play.
  4. Painting the Snow: this one is our personal favourite, get some liquid water colour paints and paint brushes, and use the snow on the ground as your canvas! This can also be done indoors if the snow is put into a bucket.
  5. Potato Head Snowman: if you have the pieces for a Mr. Potato Head, then take them outside and use them to make miniature snowmen.
  6. Snowy Bird Feeders: this one is super fun and educational, check it out at: CBC Parents

For more snowy activities visit (source): http://happyhooligans.ca/creative-snow-play-ideas/

 

Scaffolding: A Beneficial Strategy in Early Childhood Education

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Scaffolding is a strategy that is often used alongside other educational tools to aid understanding and learning. The idea behind scaffolding is that new information and skills are more easily learned when building on previous experiences and when there is support from teachers.

“When building, scaffolding is erected to help supply support to the new structure that is being created. When the building is complete, the scaffolding is removed and the new building is able to stand alone. In scaffolding in early childhood education, the philosophy is very similar and works almost the same way to build independence in children.” (Quote taken from source at bottom).

So how exactly does scaffolding in education work? In a way, it employs the logic of Zygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The zone of proximal development essentially suggests that learning takes place in this sweet spot between things a child can do alone and things a child need’s done for them. This is called the zone of proximal development and it is defined as things a learner can do with some help. (for more info on ZPD theory see this blog post: http://parklandplayers.com/vygotskys-zone-of-proximal-development-in-early-childhood-education/). Essentially, scaffolding is the help/support that takes place in the zone of proximal development. As the child begins to learn and master the skill, the support provided by the teacher decreases, until eventually the child can begin to do the task on their own.

Scaffolding can look like the following:

  • Providing suggestions or asking questions to inspire children when they are stuck on a project or task
  • Strategic lesson planning so that concepts from one lesson carry over to the next and are built upon
  • Observing that a child has mastered a skill and then asking them if they can complete a task that is a step above that skill or assisting them in completing a task that is a step above that skill.

Why is scaffolding beneficial? Well, it helps children build confidence in their own abilities as a learner. It also allows them to be independent and gives them the ability to direct the pace and timing of their education.

Source: https://www.verywell.com/education-scaffolding-preschoolers-2764951