Go Ahead…as Nike Would Say, “Just Do It!”

March 30, 2011

Go Ahead…as Nike would say, “Just Do It!” It Feeds the Brain, Nourishes the Soul, and Creates Amazing Memories!

There are MANY blogs about Sensory Play for children…just Google it and there is everything you need to know about play involving all of the senses! (beginning with infants)! There are articles on the value to every child as well as thousands of ideas on creative ways to create sensory activities for various ages.

What makes my blog unique? I am addressing the barriers to sensory play. I am going to “tear down” all those myths and excuses that parents and educators use to “stall” engaging in these critical experiences that we have properly labeled “sensory activities” or “sensory play”.

Here are the top 5 common excuses:

1.     I will do it tomorrow

2.     It is too messy

3.     I do not have time to get everything out

4.     My child doesn’t know how to “do it” correctly

5.     I (the adult) am too tired or I don’t know how to plan the activity correctly

While I understand “all of the above” let me assure you that ALL of these are inexcusable. As a significant adult in your child’s life, finding ways to explore the world together with the child in your care is a privilege, and I want to INSPIRE you to overcome the excuses and find ways to “Just Do It” everyday.

Children will naturally engage their senses if we overcome our first instinct to say no. They will touch it, smell it, taste it…without reservation. There are so many things that you can do each day to encourage your child to explore the world around him and engage the senses. It just takes being aware and making a commitment to purposeful sensory engagement every day.

Here are some great ways to include sensory play throughout your child’s day:

1.     If you are walking by a place of business and you smell food cooking; pause and engage your child in “guessing the smell”. Stop and smell. Pause to engage the sense of smell and talk about what you smell and even perhaps what you smell may taste like when you eat it.

2.     If you are walking and you cannot remove your shoes to feel the grass; pause to let you child stop and touch the grass, the tree, or the flower. It will only take a minute. Let him explore the textures as you walk along the sidewalk. Even if she drags her hand along the brick wall, ask her what it feels like and then when you find a place to wash her hands, ask her what the brick felt like compared to how the water feels…that is purposefully engaging your senses.

3.     Listen to the sounds of traffic when you are driving. Who can hear a horn first? Or play a nature CD in the car and see who can identify the sounds you hear on the CD. That’s sensory play in the car.

4.     Remember the game of I spy? That is sensory play.

5.     Describe the red truck as it goes by to your toddler. That is engaging your toddler’s sense of sight.

6.     When you are putting ice in the glasses for dinner, put a couple in a zip-lock bag and let her play with the baggie in her high chair while you are finishing up the table while you describe how the cold bag feels in her hand. That is sensory play.

My point is that is can be simple, fun, a part of your everyday life.

Yes, there are certainly times to get out the sand box, the water table, the paint easel and all of those gooey, fun, and exciting things but it is MOST important that you “JUST DO IT”. Relax; just think of fun and creative ways to say YES to the MESS.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Center

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National Bubble Week starts today…Bubbles, Bubbles, EVERYWHERE

March 20, 2011

LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!

NATIONAL BUBBLE WEEK

March 20th thru March 26th

First, I want to make sure that you ALL have a great recipe for bubbles…

You mix: 6 parts water, 2 parts Joy dishwashing liquid (the brand that works very well), and ¾ part corn starch. You can use Pipe-cleaners bent into different shapes as wands or you can use cookie cutters.

Bubble week is always the first week of Spring!

It was created, I am sure, by a marketing group but it is a great way for us to blow bubbles and celebrate the arrival of spring.

Children and adults LOVE bubbles. We love blowing them, chasing them, and popping them.

Did you know that in January 2011, that a mobile game developed by an eighth grader called “Bubble Ball” became the most downloaded free app at the App Store; up-seating best seller Angry Birds?

So, here is what I am saying:

1.  First of all, go outside and blow bubbles this week with your children, grandchildren, or any child. Find a child to spend some time with and watch them get lost in the magic of enjoying the bubbles. Hey, after all, it IS National Bubble Week!

2.  Never underestimate you child’s creativity…the child that created the bestselling free downloadable app, created his first web-site while he was in the third grade. You never know what talents and/or abilities are within your child.

3.  You are never too old or too young to enjoy life and contribute to improving the world. Get involved today and make the world around you better and MORE FUN.

Here’s to happy “bubbling!”

Written by: Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers


R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to me

March 16, 2011

That line in a song certainly doesn’t mean what I MEAN in my blog; but I hope to get your attention.

I think everyone would agree that children deserve respect. Every human being deserves to be respected. However, what troubles me so often is how disrespectful adults can be to children without realizing that their actions are disrespectful.

I encourage every adult who interacts with a child to STOP and think. How would you feel if you were that infant, toddler, preschooler, or school age child on the receiving end of your action?

Infant: Baby is sitting on the floor working diligently to master a toy. All of a sudden someone jerks him up from behind without warning. Now from the adult’s perspective, it is time for a diaper change. The baby can’t speak, so the adult assumes that the baby doesn’t understand language. The respectful approach would be to make sure the infant sees the adult, for the adult to say, “I am going to change your diaper now” and gently lift the baby. That is a respectful approach. Use words to describe what is going to happen next, even to a very young child.

Toddler/Two-year-old: Screaming because something didn’t go right. The adult just says to stop. The respectful approach is to say, “I know you feel sad right now that you are not allowed to go outside, but the screaming has to stop.” Having expectations is okay, but validating their feelings shows respect. The adult could even redirect with options like, “If you need to scream, you can scream in your room or whatever is acceptable in your home.

Preschool: Have you ever been walking through a store and heard an adult just talking in a hateful, exhausted, and irritating tone to children beside them?It is interesting to notice that the adult’s cell phone can ring and that same adult’s tone changes completely. They begin to laugh and talk like a wonderful, kind, loving, and personable person to whomever is on the other end. I’ve often wanted to walk over and say, “No matter what, these children deserve that same respectful tone.”

Some research states that language is 75% nonverbal. It isn’t what you say; it is often HOW you say it. Children can feel if you really like them. Smile, look your child in the eye when you talk to her and remember that loving touches soothe. Show respect and you will receive respect.

Pre-teens: Most young teens begin to say, “If you respect me, you will let me do whatever I want to do” but they DO NOT mean it. They want and need boundaries. Showing respect to these walking bodies of hormones means that you will listen completely to what they have to say. Do not interrupt them, if possible. THINK before you respond. Often they are just processing what they feel and you need to just let them process. Be consistent and fair because this age hates injustice. You can expect respect from them but you need to model that behavior. They want to see you treating them and others with respect. No matter what, keep expressing your love, smile at them, and keep them talking to you. They read your non-verbal cues, so watch your body language.

Respect is defined as a positive feeling of esteem for a person. Let the children in your world KNOW that you feel a positive feeling of esteem toward them. Demonstrate it…live it out.

By Donna McClintock, COO Children’s Choice Learning Centers