Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sensory Experiences ARE a Pre-Literacy Skill

Every early learning activity builds the foundation for later learning.  Early learners spread paint with their fingers, imitate sound, observe the world and use taste to build upon their knowledge of objects in the world.  Sensory learning is brain development work.  The traditional five senses in addition to the systems that help us to balance and determine our body position in space must coordinate in order for young students to learn in the years to come.  Parents and educational systems today are focused on ensuring that activities help children to become readers and writers.  Rest assured that the finger paint, play dough, sand, songs, animal sounds, taste tests and sights of early childhood classrooms are setting that stage.
                                 
Because adults have been readers and writers for a long time, we forget the complexity of the task.    Sensory development helps us to:
  • Properly hold pencils and pens – Development of our sense of touch helps us to know what we are holding and to feel the correct positioning of writing tools. 
  • Hold pencils and pens with the correct pressure – There is no mathematical or scientific formula that young children memorize to hold writing tools with the correct pressure or to press down with just the right force.  This ability requires coordination of the fine motor muscles and our sense of touch.
  • Turn pages – To separate the pages of a book, you need to feel thickness and maintain the proper hold on the pages.  We are using both our fine motor skills and sense of touch to go from one page to another.
  • Put our hands on books and paper – We coordinate our sensory input with proprioception (our intuitive sense of space and position) to move our hands to the correct place in space.  The two systems needs practice working together to succeed at this task.
  • Replicate the rhythm and beat of language – Hearing songs and imitating those sounds from the time we are infants strengthen the brain connections that allow us to read and write with the proper tones, volume, stops and pauses. 
  • Understand that the written word is the spoken word – Children do not instinctively understand that those shapes on a page are what you are saying when you read.  They need to have developed observational skills so they can watch you point to words, say them and explain that the letters stand for those sounds.
  • Become critical thinkers – We explore from the time we are born through our senses.  Infants are drawn to sounds, sights, textures, smells and tastes.  Their brains begin to organize information in a way that compares sensory experiences.  They begin to wonder, question and experiment.  It all begins with the first time they see your face or feel your embrace.
  • Sort and categorize – Very young sensorimotor learners use all of their senses, including taste, to sort the objects in the world.  It typically takes approximately 2 years for young children to understand the taste of food vs. non-food, what is good for their mouths and what is not.  They learn that some things are too hot on their hands and others very cold.  This is the foundation for scaffolding learning, reading comprehension and mathematical skills in the future.

When young children are deprived of sensory experiences or are placed in front of one dimensional worksheets too early, there are brain pathways that are not strengthened.  When early childhood teachers get the sensory box, they are doing pre-literacy work!


My forthcoming book from WW Norton is listed for pre-sale on Amazon!  More info. will be added to the Amazon page soon.  You can check it out and pre-order - click here:  "Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds"

Be the first to be updated when Amazon has more details – click HERE to join my mailing list.  I promise not to crowd your inbox :)

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Should Your Child Repeat Pre-K? Tips for Making a Difficult Decision

“Should this child repeat the Pre-K year before moving on to kindergarten?”  It is a question that sometimes is asked by early childhood teachers and other times by parents, particularly when a child’s birthday is near the kindergarten cutoff date for enrollment.  In the United States, children are eligible for kindergarten in the public school when they are 5 years old but there is a wide range of entrance eligibility dates within that 5 year old year.  If you go to the Education Commission of the United States website, you will see that entrance eligibility dates vary by state and, in some cases, within states when the decision is made by individual districts.  The entrance cutoff date where you live is rather random but your child’s readiness is not.                                          

Deciding whether to enroll a child or recommend a child for an additional year of pre-kindergarten is not easy.  This decision is should not be taken lightly because it can impact the experience the child will have for the next 12 years.  While an early childhood professional may recommend to repeat or not, the parents’ or guardians’ will ultimately have to make the final call.  Here are some questions you should consider if facing the repeat-PreK-or-not dilemma:

Socialization Skills:  Does the child understand how to take turns and cooperate with peers?  Does the child demonstrate an ability to negotiate in social situations?

Self-Help Skills:  Has your child demonstrated mastery of basic self-help skills such as independent toileting including manipulation of clothing to do so and the ability to open lunch items to eat independently?  Does your child put on a coat independently and show an ability to care for possessions?

Emotional Intelligence:  Is your child able to express frustration in ways other than becoming aggressive?  Is your child able to communicate with adults about being upset?

Taking Direction:  Is your child able to follow directions that include two steps?  In a classroom, does your child take direction from the teacher the majority of the time?  How often are requests not followed?

Literacy Readiness:  Does your child show an interest in the written word (enjoy books, want to attempt to read and write)?  Has your child been able to identify some letters out of order that are not letters in his/her name?  Is your child able to properly hold a pencil?

Math Readiness:  Can your child count approximately 10 items and not only count from memorization?  Does your child identify colors and shapes?

Critical Thinking Skills and Curiosity:  Does your child demonstrate curiosity by asking questions and exploring?  Does your child demonstrate decision making skills?

If you find that some of the answers to the questions above are “No,” there are more questions that you need to consider.  This is the advice I give most often to parents/guardians when I know they need to consider another year of PreK:  
Think not about today but about 10 years from now...
  • In 10 years when your child is 15 years old, do you think your child will have the same level of maturity as the other students in his/her grade? 
  • If your child is socially less mature now or emotionally less able to cope now, how might that play out over the next 10 years? 
  • If your child is struggling with alphabet or other more academically based activities now, would an additional year in pre-kindergarten help him/her to be less frustrated as time marches on?

When parents are still unsure, I advise to err on the side of caution.  A child can always gain from an extra year honing needed skills.  Most early childhood teachers would be happy to supplement if it all suddenly starts to click and a child can master more skills.  Preschool classes are, or should be, all about individual development and have plans for teaching individuals rather than a whole group all day long.  On the other hand, a child can become very defeated if put in a situation he/she is not yet ready to tackle and many kindergarten classes are simply not staffed to be as individually focused as preschool. 

Remember, an extra year of pre-kindergarten is a gift of time for children who need it.  It isn’t a failure. In fact, an extra year often prevents failure.   


My forthcoming book from WW Norton is listed for pre-sale on Amazon!  More info. will be added to the Amazon page soon.  You can check it out and pre-order - click here:  "Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds"

Be the first to be updated when Amazon has more details – click HERE to join my mailing list.  I promise not to crowd your inbox :)

________________________________________________________________________

You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Are We Teaching Children to Hate? Political Reactions Gone Awry

I have strong feelings about the current political situation in the United States and I am grateful to live in a nation where I can express them. There is Freedom of Speech. It needs to be protected even when we don’t like what we hear.  We all have the right to speak and we all have the right to march, peacefully protest and join with others who are like minded.  I think it is wonderful for children to see adults standing up for what they believe to be right and good.  That is, however, very different from having our children see us hate and sanctioning their use of hate language.
                          
Young children under the age of 5 are saying, “I hate Trump” and “Obama is stupid.”  I have heard elementary school students say, “The people who vote that way are idiots.”

These young people are repeating what they hear. I have seen people on both sides of the political spectrum post mean, name calling insults about each other on social media.

There is a terrifying lack of decency and respect for our fellow citizens that is seeping down to our children.  There is a big difference between “I hate Trump” and “I disagree with Trump.” You cannot compare “They are morons” with the sentence “I don’t agree them” or even “I don’t understand them.”  The casual way that children are using words like hate and morons and idiots is as disturbing as the hatred itself.  

If we have any hope that the future will be more peaceful and accepting, then we must stop teaching children that labeling, judgments and hatred is acceptable.  Isn’t labeling, judgment and hatred what so many people are worried about in this new administration?  Isn’t it what everyone is complaining about feeling – judged and accused of being less intelligent?

If we have any hope of bringing civil discourse and respectful disagreement back, we must stop teaching children that it is acceptable to stop listening and to simply declare the other side stupid.  Aren’t many adults angry because they feel dismissed and unheard?  Isn’t this great divide that we are experiencing a result of our inability to hear each other?

We don’t have to understand the people who feel differently than we do.  We also don’t have to demean the people who took the other side.  We can simply disagree and act to support our own beliefs.

Children need to learn how to positively affect change, not how to hate.  They should see us partnering with organizations who we believe should be supported.  They should see us peacefully and respectfully exercising our right to express ourselves to our government.  They should see us try to make good from what we consider bad by standing with those we consider to be oppressed. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. who taught us about nonviolent civil disobedience.


Be the first to know when my forthcoming book from WW Norton is being sold – click HERE to join my mailing list.  I promise not to crowd your inbox J

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual sessions for only $ 15 and staff bundles for groups of people.  Go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.