Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Time to Reflect and Evaluate

We are now one-third of the way through this series. This is a good time to reflect on and evaluate your progress with helping your pre-school child develop math skills. What strategies worked as you hoped? Have you encountered any problems? Do you still have a clear view of what you are trying to accomplish and why?

In the introductory article of this series we discussed the research finding that the critical years for learning logic and establishing a solid math foundation are ages 1 to 4. Equally startling, from continued studies, are results showing that a child’s math skills at kindergarten entry are a better predictor of future academic success that are reading skills, social skills, or the ability to focus.

Read that again! A child’s math skills at kindergarten entry are a better predictor of future academic success than even reading skills. This result is HUGE! I hope this fact brings into focus just how very important your efforts are for your child’s future.

At this point you might be thinking that you should transfer the responsibility for math learning to an organized preschool, but I strongly caution you against this idea. Preschool, whether started at 3 or 4 years of age, can be beneficial, especially for social skills, and might become appropriate for your child. However, it misses those initial critical years for establishing a good math foundation. In addition, as this knowlegde of the importance of preschool math education becomes more widely known, more programs are being devised that rely too heavily on “seat work.” Preschool children lack the motor skills and attention span to be successful in an all seat work environment. Sadly, in too many of these programs our very young children are losing their enthusiasm for learning. It is imperative that this NOT happen to your child!

Now might be a good time to re-read the second article in this series: 7 things You Must Always Do. Realize that these procedures and attitudes are important for all learning to occur. In fact, you have probably used most, if not all, of these as you have worked with your child’s language skills. Realize, too, that most of the early math skills can be handled along with the early language skills. Learning to count–1, 2, 3, 4, 5,… –is the same skill as learning to say the alphabet–a, b, c, d, e,… Learning to write numerals can accompany learning to write alphabet letters. Your child’s expanding vocabulary can and should include math vocabulary as well.

So far in this series, we have discussed helping your child master counting, number recognition, using number lines, focusing on “if-then” thinking, addition, subtraction, number families, even and odd numbers, and a quick look at some simple number patterns. Hopefully, you are taking advantage of “teachable moments” rather than trying to schedule learning sessions. Your routines, like trips to the store, fixing meals, play get-togethers, going to the park, bedtime reading, etc., provide many opportunities for learning to occur.

Let your child’s interest and enthusiasm guide what you do, when you do it, and for how long. Frequently return to previously learned skills to check that their understanding is still present and correct. This will let you know if you need to re-teach a skill. Know that having to re-teach is a normal part of learning and does NOT indicate a failure on your part.

I am going to postpone articles introducing new math skills until after a few articles that will address some related issues, like the importance of reading to your child, fixing learned mistakes, task analysis, and learning styles, Continue working with your child as you have been, always staying positive, keeping things fun, reinforcing success, and paying close attention to your child’s body language and mood.

Points to remember with preschoolers:

Children learn at their own pace. They will pick up some skills quickly while other skills will need repeated practice.
Children need to be actively involved in their learning. They must DO things rather than watching and listening to you.
Repetition is necessary for learning to occur. However, make certain that what is being repeated is correct. Practice only makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

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Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Brain Friendly or Learning Styles?

Whether because you have read my other articles in the Early Childhood Education category or because you have researched this topic online, you likely have questions about how the terms “brain friendly” and “learning styles” fit into your work with your preschooler. Certainly the goal of both is to help your child learn, so what’s the difference? Is one better than the other?

“Learning styles” is the older concept and represents the results of several research studies trying to determine how we learn. You will find a summary of these findings in my article “Learning Styles-Should I Have my Child Tested?” (The answer is NO.) These concepts were essentially guesses, based on observation of behavior, about how the brain takes in and stores information. Guesses as to how the brain learns.

I recommend that you read that article to familiarize yourself with the terminology because you are likely to encounter some or all of these concepts as you further study early childhood education. You may even encounter teachers in your child’s future who still hold onto these concepts. Some of these attempts to explain how we learn have more merit than others; there is some truth in each; but none provided the full answer. The concept of learning styles has lost favor in the field of education. In my research for this article I was surprised at how many articles and videos referred to “debunking” this concept of learning styles.

Having taught in public schools in the ’90′s when we were encouraged to test our student’s learning styles, and students were often placed in classes where their learning style matched the teacher’s style, the idea of learning styles being “debunked” initially seemed impossible. However, this change in attitude about education is the result of new developments in brain scan technology, brain surgery, and brain research. We no longer have to guess how the brain learns. We have lots of research and practical verification of techniques that have proven effective for learning to occur.

The field of brain based education and learning is only a couple decades old; and the field is not without its critics; but even Harvard University now offers master’s and doctoral programs through its MBE–Mind, Brain, and Education–program. The study of brain based education is about learning what techniques parents and educators should use to best engage the brain in learning.

Now that we know how the brain actually learns, it is important the you use brain friendly techniques as you work with your preschooler. You don’t need a teaching degree to use brain friendly techniques. I will now summarize here things you need to consider when you work with your child. The brain needs color, exercise/movement, a variety of activities, novelty, processing time, music, limiting stress, information in small “chunks,” plenty of rest, introduction to “the arts”–dance, drama (acting things out), and art, frequent review, good nutrition, and more. There are many specific techniques that teachers use in their classrooms, but this list will give you a good start for working at home..

There are a few things you should notice from the list:

These activities actually utilize all the different concepts of learning styles, which is why you don’t need to test your child, and why I didn’t list them. Using brain friendly techniques addresses what you need to know about learning styles.
You are already using many of these techniques. You are already working in short periods of time, giving time for processing, lots of review, movement, different kinds of activities, watching your child to avoid stress, etc.
Skill & drill worksheets are NOT brain friendly. There are hundreds of sites online offering worksheets for your preschooler. However, unless these worksheets have lots of color, novel and varied activities, are short, are self-checking to avoid practiced mistakes, and you are willing to oversee every moment of their use, you should avoid using them!
If you want more information about brain based learning, I recommend reading Eric Jensen, David Sousa, and/or John Medina.
The answer to the initial question is that “brain friendly” is the learning concept you need to incorporate into your work with your child. Notice that I have not even mentioned math because these techniques are for ALL learning. Remember to always stay positive with your child, be enthusiastic about learning, and avoid boredom in your child. Boredom actually destroys brain cells, and we certainly don’t want that!

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Getting Children to Help in Household Chores

We know that the old saying ‘Children have a unique way of seeing things’ holds true; when concerned with children’s will and chores, and most of these chores are bound to be a part of the daily routine. So when your child is old enough to start making some demands to you regarding chores, the most important thing is to agree with him or her. The best way to do this is by setting clear rules of behavior regarding household chores, early childhood education, and outdoor activities. Let us see how these three things can work in tandem to ensure that our children help in household chores, instead of doing them themselves.

Educational Activities for Toddlers – Part of the challenge for parents is the fact that the majority of children are not ready to learn at the moment. They lack both the motivation and the ability to follow instructions. Many of these children help out their parents, but the end result is always the same – they do most of the household chores without being properly motivated. Early childhood education is an effective way to help these children overcome their ingrained tendencies to do things themselves and learn about the importance of doing things according to a system, schedule, or plan. when searching for Daycare near me you will see various institutions providing the perfect setting for these educational activities for toddlers.

Most families already have a preschool or a daycare close by. Why not extend this advantage to your own family? In this manner, your children’s education is made more comprehensive, since they also get exposure to experts in different fields. They can also be involved in discussions, and you can always make sure that the educational activities they are doing is stimulating and interesting. If the daycare near me offers other related activities, you can be sure that your kids will never run short of things to do!

Cooperation is the Secret: Another advantage that daycare can provide is the opportunity to apply the theory of cooperation. Here, children help in chores that can be done by adults, so that adults can finish what they have started. This helps both parties, and it is usually very rewarding for children! You can teach your children how to share, and you can do this by assigning tasks according to how your children are doing their chores. Children are more likely to be happy with tasks that are shared, rather than doing their own chores at home.

Adults can help children’s chores through providing extra assistance. For instance, if the children’s chores require a lot of walking, adults can help carry bags, empty bottles, and so on. The adult can also provide a snack or a drink, so that the children are not required to cook or clean themselves at the end of the day.

Appreciation: This is another strategic method Parents can try out to get some help from their kids. There are times when children are just tired and need a break. However, if adults are around to help children with household chores, they will see that they are making progress, and they are more likely to appreciate all the help that they are getting. It is important to keep a positive attitude, even if you do not feel like doing certain chores at the moment. Your children will appreciate it, and it will make them feel better about themselves.

As adults, we may feel trapped from time to time, and our children may sometimes push us around a bit, especially if they are tired and want some fun. However, when children are involved, they understand that adults need help with tasks, which help themselves feel more independent. Also, when children are having fun doing chores, they tend to be much easier to please than children who are doing dull chores all day long.

Housework can be difficult at times. We are all busy, and often there is only so much we can do. That is why it is important to try to have fun while doing chores, and to encourage children to help out. If you are stuck for ideas, there are plenty of games you can play that teach your children basic skills that will be useful in their future lives.

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