Five Things You Should Know if There Is a Child in Your Life

July 17, 2013

 

Mother and son readingWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

The one thing that most adults will tell you very quickly – whether they are the parent of one, the teacher of ten, or an observer of just a few – is that children surprise them. Children think of things that we don’t anticipate, are more ingenious than we think they are, and their honesty catches us off guard. It can be refreshing … and frustrating.

In my 30+ years of working with young children, I’ve often been asked what one thing I would want adults to know about caring for young children. While it is difficult to name just one, I can narrow the list to these five that can be applied to parenting or working with young children in a formalized program: 

1.     Safety first! If you do not keep children both physically and emotionally safe, nothing else matters. Their little hearts, bodies, and minds must be protected. Ensure that locks are on the proper cabinets, that dangerous things are out of the way, and that hurtful words do not come out of adults’ mouths.

2.     Matters of the heart matter the most. Relationships matter!  After safety, build a relationship with the child. Don’t expect him to know that you love him … tell him. If he doesn’t know that you care, it will be difficult for you to teach him very much. Use words of affirmation and give him loving touches. Praise specific actions so he knows that you noticed exactly what he did.

3.     Model desired behavior. So often we drag our children to counselors, therapists, and doctors when actually their behavior mirrors what they saw lived out before them through their formative years. Be careful of the influences you allow in your child’s life. Choose the environments that you immerse her in and model before her what you desire her to embrace.

4.     Read to your child every day. Research has proven that sharing great stories, snuggling together, and reading to your child can produce significant gains in his reading comprehension. Keep reading out loud to him even when he is old enough to read on his own.

5.     Teach, model, and communicate the GIGO (garbage in/garbage out) Principle. This is true with everything in life. Teach your child very early the principles of logical consequences and cause and effect. Teach her that she can control her thoughts by reading, watching, and feeding on positive material. Recognizing the needs of others is critical to her well-being, so give her opportunities to help others. Don’t hover – let her experience life in a safe way and allow her to face the consequences of her decisions so that she understands and grows from them.

Research evolves daily about how children grow and learn, and the best thing you can do for the children in your life is to stay current. Make it a priority to never stop learning about children.

 


Improving Your Child’s Vocabulary

July 10, 2013

WordsWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

One of the things that families can do to ensure their children are inspired to become lifelong learners is to read to them every day from the beginning on a variety of levels. Research has proven that having exposure to a broad range of subjects also increases a child’s vocabulary. Focus on an area that is of interest to her, and then always try to broaden that interest.  This is a great resource on how to broaden your child’s vocabulary. http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/readingline/pdfs/ProfessionalPaper.pdf

Children need to live in a vocabulary-rich environment, and children with broad vocabularies have typically been exposed to more words. It is estimated that children can learn up to 20 words a day, so use both new and familiar words with even very young children to describe their world. Try to use as many words as you can and be sure to explain each word to them.

There are few activities that are free, and reading is one of them. Check out books from the library and choose those that are above your child’s reading level. She will delight in hearing stories read to her that have very descriptive words in them. She might not fully understand every word, but she will exercise her imagination and she will love the time with you.

 

Learning new words and enjoying a rich vocabulary should be fun so make up stories and allow your child to play games with words. My son, who is now 34, thoroughly enjoyed delighting us when he was only three by using words that most three-year-olds didn’t know. He is still one of the smartest men I know. His dad and I read to him all the time, and he would go to sleep listening to readings on cassette tapes. We didn’t know this at the time, but research has proven that listening to recorded reading improves your vocabulary, especially if it is above your level and you strive to understand it.

 

Broaden your vocabulary with your child. Don’t always try to “dumb it down” because your child is young. Use big words intentionally and explain their meanings. Teach your child how some words are related such as how “angry” means “mad” and that “happy” and “elated” are similar.

 

Just remember that a child’s vocabulary matters greatly to his overall academic success. You will learn a lot along the way when you get busy talking and reading to him. One of my best teachers was my son, Zane. He inspired me … he still does.


Improving Your Child’s Vocabulary

July 10, 2013

WordsWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

One of the things that families can do to ensure their children are inspired to become lifelong learners is to read to them every day from the beginning on a variety of levels. Research has proven that having exposure to a broad range of subjects also increases a child’s vocabulary. Focus on an area that is of interest to her, and then always try to broaden that interest.  This is a great resource on how to broaden your child’s vocabulary. http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/readingline/pdfs/ProfessionalPaper.pdf

Children need to live in a vocabulary-rich environment, and children with broad vocabularies have typically been exposed to more words. It is estimated that children can learn up to 20 words a day, so use both new and familiar words with even very young children to describe their world. Try to use as many words as you can and be sure to explain each word to them.

There are few activities that are free, and reading is one of them. Check out books from the library and choose those that are above your child’s reading level. She will delight in hearing stories read to her that have very descriptive words in them. She might not fully understand every word, but she will exercise her imagination and she will love the time with you.

Learning new words and enjoying a rich vocabulary should be fun so make up stories and allow your child to play games with words. My son, who is now 34, thoroughly enjoyed delighting us when he was only three by using words that most three-year-olds didn’t know. He is still one of the smartest men I know. His dad and I read to him all the time, and he would go to sleep listening to readings on cassette tapes. We didn’t know this at the time, but research has proven that listening to recorded reading improves your vocabulary, especially if it is above your level and you strive to understand it.

Broaden your vocabulary with your child. Don’t always try to “dumb it down” because your child is young. Use big words intentionally and explain their meanings. Teach your child how some words are related such as how “angry” means “mad” and that “happy” and “elated” are similar.

Just remember that a child’s vocabulary matters greatly to his overall academic success. You will learn a lot along the way when you get busy talking and reading to him. One of my best teachers was my son, Zane. He inspired me … he still does.

 


Change … It’s Tough

July 3, 2013

dee dee and grands in red carWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

I often blog about my family because working with children five and under and having grandchildren in that same age range has made it just too hard to resist. I see first-hand evidence of what I talk about lived out in my family.

This past weekend was no exception. Those who follow my blogs know that Sunday is family day and that our children and grandchildren gather for family lunch after church. Typically, the grandchildren ride with me (the fun grandmother) in my red sports car. We often put the top down and just have a blast.

Well … This weekend, I was between cars and had a rental because my new one wasn’t in. My little grandson is not yet old enough to express his opinion, but I told my grand girls about my new car. They had expressed that they love my car, so I assumed (incorrectly, as it turns out) that as long as I purchased another convertible that they would love whatever I chose. After all, as their mom explained to them, “Dee Dee is what makes the car fun, not the color of the car. Right?”

Change is tough, and children don’t like it any more than adults do. No matter how insignificant it might seem, some children and adults really struggle with change. My granddaughters have great affection for my little red car and are so upset by me trading it … so much so that it made me pause to reconsider if I really needed or even wanted the new one.

Here are some pointers to remember when addressing change with young children:

1.     Be honest.  Don’t try to sugar coat it. It may be tough for them to hear but don’t water it down and give them a conflicting message. Say it honestly and keep the message simple and direct.

2.     Tell them as far in advance as you can. Children need time to process things so keep surprises to a minimum. They need to know that they can trust you to tell them about changes before they happen so that they can predict what is going to take place next.

3.     Keep reassuring them in the areas that truly matter. I found myself saying on Sunday, “We will still have fun in the new car. We will make great memories in the new black one just like we did in the red one.” Our relationship isn’t going to change just because I decided to get a new car, and I wanted them to feel that our love would always be the same. I must say that I am not sure they believed me, but I kept repeating it.

4.     Validate their concerns. I didn’t laugh at my granddaughters for being upset. Change is tough and as the quote states, “Nothing endures but change.”  It’s here to stay so we need to know how to help our children cope. I understand that my girls feared losing the fun and the memories that we’d made in the cool red car.  They needed to know that almost all of us sometimes feel sad when things change and that it’s okay to feel sad. I tried to reassure them that everything will feel better soon, but I can’t say that they were buying that either.

5.     Keep communication open. Let children ask as many questions as they need to ask to feel better. I’m not sure we got to that point on Sunday, but I will keep encouraging them talk to me until we do. In the meantime, I might have to call the dealership and check into changing that black car back to red!