Early Childhood Education

20 Mar Saying “I am sorry”

Organic food, starting Kindergarten at 5 or waiting until 6, co-sleeping are all debatable topics with young children.  Teaching them, or should I say making them, say they are sorry is also an interesting topic.  Children, by nature, are concerned with themselves.  Some may say "egocentric." They aren't overly concerned about what others around them are feeling, thinking or doing for the first few years of life. Parents and Teachers become involved when two children have an altercation.  Or something happens and they need to step in.  After both sides are heard, often times the adult says "tell him/her you are sorry."  The child looks down and mumbles "sorry." Then they run off and continue their day. Maybe it is because I see people use the word "sorry" very loosely or maybe because if I say I am sorry, I am truly very sorry for the mistake I made.  I watch it with my own children.  My daughters tip over their water and spill it over the cooked food on a regular basis (they are 5 and 10 years old).  The first time, their look of shock and apology was real.  They felt badly they just ruined the hot food. Fast forward to the 10th time they did it and with the "how can we avoid doing this anymore question that arose" their response was "sorry, we didn't mean to."  Obviously they didn't, but the sorries aren't also really helpful.  Lets focus on stopping the action that requires the sorry. For an effective apology, children need to understand their actions. They don't need a lecture, per se, they do need to know the effects of their actions, though. They should know what result happened by their action. If they pushed a child off the slide and they got hurt, they should know they hurt the child.  Again, not in a lecture type format but "Look at Johnny's hand and knees, by pushing him off the slide, he got hurt." The timing for this conversation is also important. Immediately after the action, the other child is likely screaming which is a loud environment to have a calm conversation with the child that pushed them.  However you don't want to wait for 10 mins and then go back and coach on behaviors. The idea that I love the most is asking "what can you do next time" or "how can we make it right."  Taking it one step further, we can't change the action or result of what happened but we can do something extra kind to the person we hurt or honestly any person as an extra step of understanding we need to be kind to each other. Since kindness is contagious, maybe that idea of doing something extra kind instead of focusing on saying sorry might have a strong rippling effect among children. Lastly--as I always seem to wrap up--we are the adults.  We are the examples.  Show them that you are sincerely sorry when you make a mistake (and possibly take the "I will do this to make it right" path) to show that we are not perfect and we were kids too (long ago!)...

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18 Mar Effects of Yelling on young children

We have all had moments where we need to count backwards from 10.  Your two children were just wrestling in the living room and you asked them five times not to knock over something because it was going to break.  What did they do? Didn't listen and knocked it over and it broke all over the floor and themselves. Raising voices or "yelling" at children illicit a "fight or flight" response and really should only be used in signs of trouble (thinking of when your child is about to run across a busy road).  Their bodies (heart rate, breathing rate, and increased stress response) react to the situation.  When they are being yelled at for something outside of a true sign of trouble, it still has that response. Maybe they aren't getting ready fast enough?  Well, yelling at them to "hurry up" is going to be a missed point because they are focused on the loudness of your voice rather than what you are saying. What does it teach children?  Yelling at children on a regular basis teaches them to yell or be aggressive to others.  They look to caretakers and adults as their mentors, so to speak.  So if we walk around yelling, they will think that is the way to handle conflict.  Yelling is also not effective.  There are many studies out there about whether or not yelling at children is detrimental to their development. Positive guidance.  This term may not be too understood outside of the Early Childhood Field, but you can probably guess what it references.  Children respond better to "in the hallways we walk because if we run we might get hurt," instead of "STOP RUNNING."  In fact, children's minds only hear "RUNNING." Have you ever noticed you tell a child to stop something and they literally do the same thing you just said to stop?  Their minds hear the last part. Why?  As adults need to understand the "whys" for something. So do children.  If your boss tells you to run a report a certain way or build a widget a certain way; for you to fully "get it" you probably want to know why?  Is my boss just asking me to run the report that way because he wants to tell me what to do? Or perhaps the report needs to be ran that way because the data in the report is then used for something else (that you are not responsible for). The same is true for children.  You can tell them not to run all day, but will have better results if you tell them why they can't run. Below are a few ideas to use when children are not listening before your voice increases to a yelling volume: --Say "raise your hand if you hear me."  Say it calmly and don't try to talk over them. --Count to 10 or 100 (depending on the situation) and take a few deep breaths before reacting. --Walk away (if you can) --Acknowledge what the child/ren are doing. "I asked you to get dressed and you are still playing with your toys." --Calmly talk about how you feel. "When I ask you do something and you don't do it, I feel frustrated." We are the adults and it is our job to teach children how to grow up and be great adults!...

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16 Mar Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically (Dictionary definition)  When we think of children's abilities to learn their ABCs and 123s, they also need to learn to be aware of and control their emotions.  This is a hard concept to teach as well as a hard concept to learn. Strong leadership relies on developed emotional intelligence.  Strong Leaders have the ability to be mature, control their emotions and articulate their feelings.  How did they get there? At Little Newtons, we teach them to talk about their emotions.  It is OK to be mad, sad, frustrated, scared, happy, and silly.  We do activities to show them what someone looks like when they are mad, what might cause someone to be scared, who to talk to if you feel frustrated.  It is very important that they learn what to do with their emotions rather than not to experience them. We don't want to teach them its not OK to be mad, then they suppress those emotions and many years from now won't have the ability to deal with that anger. Problem solving is a big key for dealing with certain emotions.  Johnny is mad that Sally took his toy; that is acceptable to be mad, but how can Johnny work through being mad at Sally?  Can he suggest a deal?  Sally can play with the toy for 5-10 mins and then they can swap?  Is there another toy Johnny likes better and when Sally is finished he can play with the toy again?  Can he tell Sally he is mad that she took his toy and Sally can use her social skills to understand that upset him and give it back? Listening to children express their emotions is something that caretakers, parents, adults, etc need to do.  An adult may think "Johnny, there are more toys, don't be mad!" or "Sally that wasn't nice to do, give it back!" But the most important thing is to listen to both children that are upset.  Don't suppress what they are feeling.  Give them the tools to solve their problems and express their emotions. If we are teaching children to be exceptional academically, we also need to focus on the whole child and teach them self control, emotional intelligence and how to be strong leaders! Children are our future!...

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08 Feb I love to read!

February is "I love to read" month.  There are so many opportunities to celebrate this month.  Whether it is a challenge on how many books you can read in your family to starting a "Family Literacy Night" where you focus on letter sounds, or sentence structure, parts of a book, etc. Learning to read is not the same as learning to count. The English language has so many different rules on how letter combinations are put together to make words.  At Little Newtons we do many different things to build the foundation of reading. From our little ones learning letter sounds to our Preschoolers learning short/long vowel sounds.  We also introduce words to them from Country names to Colors--its all about exposure.  Speaking of exposure, great opportunity to the "why" of what we do.  We expose children to all sorts of knowledge; from Chemical Elements to Different species of fish. We don't expect they will memorize or remember each species or element, but by exposing them daily to different languages and knowledge it builds their brain capacity as well as their vocabulary. I sat down with WCCO this morning to discuss the different ways we teach children how to read, below is the link to the interview. http:/https://vimeo.com/user14179445/review/254885890/0b1ad400ab...

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16 Nov Colds, ear infections, stomach flu, Oh my!

This morning, I sat down with WCCO (link below) to talk about hand washing.  As every parent knows--kids are going to get sick and its always the worst when your kids are sick.  I remember the first time my daughter threw up and she looked like "what just happened?  Make it stop!"  I had such empathy for her.  I, myself, hate throwing up, I can't imagine what it feels like to be her! Young children are vulnerable in so many ways--from the inability to raise their heads on their own to lacking a strong immune system.  Just as important as teaching them to walk, talk, ABCs and 123s, we also need to teach them how to defend themselves against those terrible "bugs!" Its bound to happen and unfortunately some children are more susceptible than other at different times in their lives.  The childcare setting is a common place for children getting those bugs and sometimes over and over again until their immune system builds up.  At Little Newtons we have some children that are rarely sick and others that are very often sick!  The best line of defense against these bugs is HAND WASHING!  Sounds so simple right? Not only are there immune systems immature, but they are at an age where they put EVERYTHING in their mouths.  After they put it in their mouth, they share it with their friend.  Germs spread. The CDC references hand washing as our "do it yourself vaccination."  We can control our health to a high degree and teach the little ones to do the same.  Hand washing is not just for before you eat and after the bathroom/diaper changes.  It is when you get home from work, come in from playing outside, after eating, using electronics, after blowing your nose (hold a lot of bacteria!).  What great opportunities to teach your little ones to wash.  They follow your lead in everything you do--use it to keep them safe! A few interesting facts about hand washing: -Recent research shows that antibacterial soap is not any better than regular hand soap--I still can't get on the train.  I has to be a habit that I still buy antibacterial soap at my house.  Even after reading the research.  Maybe I feel like I will get sick less. -Only about 5 percent of people wash their hands long enough--interesting the temperature of the water isn't as relevant as it used to be because the temperature to kill the bacteria on your hands would ultimately scald it. Still, I wash my hands with as hot of water as I can handle...

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11 Nov Children and Stress

Life is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Remember back when you only had to worry about yourself?  Now the worries can be endless; work, money, health issues, time management, late bedtimes, and marriage.  I recently have heard “I am so stressed,” or “this is a stressful time of the year.” But my question is, when it is not?  We just started the new school year (that is a “stressful time of year”) then it went into Halloween, which again is stressful with parties, staying up late, trick or treating, candy, costumes, etc and now we will head into Thanksgiving which is a new kind of stressful (families, traveling, or for those who don’t have families is a dreadful time), right into Christmas to then start the year over with “stressful times” as the norm.   Scientists have been studying stress, the effects of stress, and how to decrease stress.  Scientists have called stress a “silent killer.”  Isn’t that what heart disease has be been called?  I can see that there are similarities.  Stress affects every aspect of the body and prolonged amount of stress without relief does result in real changes/illnesses/disorders. Adults can handle more stress than children.  Our brains are already formed, we also have many more coping skills to handle that stress.  What are the effects of our stress on our children?   Research shows that there are lasting effects on their development and interestingly a Father’s stress impact daughters as Mother’s stress seems to impact sons more.  Newborns are impacted by their mother’s stress in utero; with researchers finding that stressful pregnancies can result in fussier newborns.  Stress is contagious. Just as you have the co-worker that always seems to be heightened or “stressed out,” always behind in their work or going through things at home.  People feel other people’s stress and become more heightened.  The same is true for children.  Bringing home stress to your children over time will result in them being more heightened.   What can we do?   Listen to them.  Listen to their needs, their feelings and their fears.  Actually hear them.  Discounting what they are telling you as “not a big deal,” or “I am too busy to deal with this,” doesn’t acknowledge the feelings/thoughts/fears they are truly experiencing.  Hear them and acknowledge them.  Ask them how you can help them.  Do they just need to “vent” and get it out and then feel better?  Or do they need you to help support them more in school, or with bedtime.   Exercise.  Just as adults need to exercise to “blow off steam,” or “refresh/reset,” so do children. Get outside and let them be free.  Let them get lost in a game of tag or if your child is older and wants to go for a run--let them tune out the everyday stress they have and spend that time being lost in their workout.  Take care of yourself and them.  Yes, its not another “duty” to add to your list, but take care of yourself.  Flying in and out of the house off to one meeting or activity after the next will heighten your child.  Rushing them from one place to another--what is the saying “stop and smell the roses?”  Let them be kids.  They have their whole life to be “stressed.” Let their innocence and thoughts thats it isn’t a wild world out there be there for as long as possible. ...

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