We talk about why childcare is important all the time.
People have different opinion on why childcare is important but here is what our parents tell us.
Childcare is important to me because :
- so I can go to work and not have to worry about childcare
- so my child can make friends
- so my child can get ready for school
- to connect with his dad’s culture
- childcare is important so my child can learn
The Way We Talk to Children Matters
The words we use and how we say them make a huge difference to how our tamariki respond to us.
Do you use your child’s name to get their attention before giving them an instruction?
Do you stop what you’re doing and make eye contact with your child when you talk to them?
What about your tone – are you annoyed or encouraging, or perhaps distracted by something else?
Use Your Child’s Name
Call your child’s name until you have their attention before you speak if you want to know for sure they have heard you.
Connect with your child using eye contact. You may need to get down to their level or sit at the table with them. Not only does it demonstrate good manners, but it also helps you to listen to each other. Say your child’s name until you get their eye contact, especially before giving them a direction. It is important that they give you their attention, and you should model the same behaviour for them.
Try not to interrupt or scold your child when they are telling you a story. Children will lose interest in sharing their feelings with you if you shift away from their story and use the time to teach them a lesson.
What Are You Really Asking?
Sometimes we are happy to give a child a choice – “Do you want to wear shorts or a skirt?”
At other times a child is not being given – “Get into bed now.”
It is important to be clear and not give the impression we are offering a choice when we’re not. This is confusing for children and probably won’t obtain the response we want – “Should we get ready for bed?” is not the right request unless you are happy for the answer to be “no”.
The I NEED/YOU NEED request
Using “I need you to…” is a very clear way of communicating with a child. They are not being given a choice; they are being given a clear request. “I need you to get into bed now.”
When Children Make Mistakes
When we observe a child who has made a mistake, or two children having a disagreement it is important not to assume who is to blame. Our language matters in these moments.
Stating what you observe is the best way to find a solution or to resolve the problem. Trying to understand is always better than trying to find out who is to blame.
“I see that you both want to play with the same toy.”
“I see the juice has spilt on the floor.”
“I can see that you are sad.”
With the “I see” statement a child does not feel judged and is more likely to respond by telling you what actually happened rather than avoiding the truth to escape the yucky feeling of blame and judgement.
Another great way to understand what is going on with your child is to simply ask them.
“Tell me about your picture.”
“Tell me about why you feel sad.”
“Tell me about what happened.”
This in as open-ended question that doesn’t assume you already know. It gives your child the opportunity to think it through as they talk to you. Remember not to interrupt when your child is trying to find the right words.
How you speak to your child matters. Your tone, your facial expression, and most of all your words.
“an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.”
Does your child have tantrums?
Temper tantrums are very normal between the ages of one to three and are just as common in boys and girls. From crying and screaming, to hitting, kicking, biting and breath holding – temper tantrums all result from a child who is still learning how to deal with frustration.
When a child doesn’t have the language skills to express how they are feeling they become frustrated. Maybe they are tired, hungry or don’t understand why they can’t have what they want. Learning how to deal with frustration is a skill that takes time to develop.
When a baby starts to walk and gain their first taste of independence and control over the world around them, they often want a lot more independence than they are ready for. When they discover that they can’t do it by themselves, or have what older children do, they become frustrated.
How Can We Minimize Tantrums?
Try these tips the next time you see a tantrum brewing
- Give your toddler some choices and control. Offer your child some choices that work for both of you. Maybe a choice of water or milk. Or perhaps where to have their bedtime story. Giving your child choices often has a better response than asking them a question that only has ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as an answer (because we all know they prefer to say ‘no’).
- Tantrum proof your house. If you know there are objects and activities that your child is not ready for, put them away. This avoids you having to constantly say no to a child that doesn’t understand why they can see something but not be allowed to play with it.
- The power of distraction. Does your child have a favourite game, song, toy or snack? The power of distraction is a great tool when a toddler is feeling frustrated and heading towards a tantrum. Sometimes just going outside for some fresh air or to smell some flowers is all that’s needed to avoid a tantrum.
- Choose your battles. As your child gets older you need to start allowing them to have more opportunity and the chance to prove they can cope with more independence. Consider your child’s request carefully, maybe it is time to say yes.
- Every child has a limit (just like adults). If you know your toddler is tired, maybe you should cut your errands short and head home. If you know your child gets hungry at a certain time and you will be out and about, take a snack with you. Understanding your child’s limit is vital to avoid a tantrum caused by tiredness or hunger.
- Reward your toddler with positive attention. Catch your child in the act of good behaviour (rather than catching them in the act of bad behaviour).
What Should I Do During a Tantrum?
Don’t make matters worse by expressing your own frustration in a similar way. Your job is to model calm behaviour and speak positively so that your child can learn by example.
Make an effort to understand why your child is upset. Tantrums are triggered by different things. Maybe your child needs a cuddle or a snack. Tantrums should be handled differently depending on why your child is upset. React to their tantrum with a solution that will help them.
If a tantrum is happening to get your attention, try ignoring it. If a tantrum happens after you have said ‘no’ to a request, stay calm and don’t give a lot of explanations for why your child can’t have what they want. Try the power of distraction instead.
If a tantrum happens when your child is asked to do something it is also best to ignore the tantrum. Make sure that you follow through and get your child to complete the task when they are calm.
Toddlers who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This also applies to tantrums in public places.
Memorize the acronym H.A.L.T. because tantrums often happen because your toddler is :
When a toddler can’t tell you what they want, feel or need, it can result in a tantrum. But as language skills develop, tantrums will decrease.
Remember that tantrums don’t last forever and the more consistent and calm you are, the quicker they will become a distant memory.
Children and the Power of Music Making
The Power of Music and its relationship to the mental and social development of children has captured the attention of parents, teachers, and researchers for a very long time. The benefits and power of music making for young children has been studied and the results strongly suggest we start making music a part of every child’s life.
The good news is you don’t need to be a musician (or musical at all for that matter) to introduce your child to making music. For very young children, making music at home has better results than formal lessons – it also costs nothing and can begin at any age.
A study of over 3000 children by the University of Queensland found that regular informal music-making with children under 3 years old may have benefits above and beyond those of reading
This research also discovered that the best results come from shared musical play in the home.
The study concluded that regular musical play from the age of 2 can lead to better literacy, numeracy, and emotion regulation. Additionally, the impact of musical activity had a strong link to positive social behaviour and attention regulation.
These findings were based on situations where the child’s musical activities were informal and shared, typically with a parent – essentially a playful and fun experience. The true benefit of musical play lies in the wonderful blend of creativity, sound, and face-to-face interaction.
Being playful with sound is something we’re all born with. The simple pleasure of making sound is available to us all, using whatever tools we have.
From motor skills to memory skills, music ignites all areas of child development and invites the body and mind to work together. In song, children are exposed to new sounds and words placed in a different context. Dancing is also a natural outcome as children move to the beat – building their gross motor skills as they do.
WHERE DO YOU START MAKING MUSIC WITH YOUR CHILD?
The first place to start is with the human voice, (remember your baby is not Simon Cowell judging your ability!) All that matters is imagination and having fun.
Babies recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. Simple short songs that you can repeat over and over are best. Try making up one or two lines about bathing, dressing, or eating, that you can sing while you do these activities.
Toddlers love to dance and move to music. The key to toddler music is repetition, which encourages language and memorization. Try singing a familiar song and inserting a silly word in the place of the correct word, like “Mary had a little spider” instead of lamb. Add in some percussion instruments from the kitchen cabinets. Perhaps whistles and bells could follow, even a toy piano for the more ambitious. Give your child a drum (pot and wooden spoon) to practice a rhythm.
Pre-schoolers enjoy singing for singings sake. They enjoy repeated words and melodies, and songs with instructions. Look online for examples and ideas of how to incorporate actions and instruments.
Forget the Mozart Effect and Baby Einstein, you can be your child’s first music teacher. Unlocking the power of music making with your child starts at home.
Talking is the single most important thing you can do for your child’s brain.
Regular conversation is the message of Dr. Dana Suskind, founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative at the university of Chicago.
It might seem simple, but the result is profound. A landmark study in 1995 found that in the first 3 years of life, some children were exposed to 30 million more word than others.
When these children entered primary school, they had a measurable advantage with bigger vocabularies and better reading skills. All of this translates to a positive early school experience which results in a more rewarding relationship with learning.
Language is what helps our brains develop to their potential and early exposure to language affects the way language networks are built in the brain. A child’s metal processing speed is shaped through rich engagement to language. The processing speed in the brain matters because it affects a broad range of cognitive skills, such as memory recall and problem solving.
As parents, whanau, and early childhood teachers we can have a profound impact on a child’s future. Talking to our babies is something we can all do and has a remarkable effect on their brain. At Tiny Stars we focus on open ended questions, song and books as a way to encourage conversation with the tamariki.
The Thirty Million Words initiative focuses on the Three T’s:
There is a natural progression from talking to our child to reading to our child.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioural Pediatrics, found that children who are read to just once a day are exposed to around 78,000 words each year. Over five years, this adds up to 1.4 million words heard during story time. That’s just one book a day and does not take into account the conversations and questions we should be engaging in with our child at any opportunity.
“If all parents, everywhere,” writes Suskind, “understood that a word spoken to a young child is not simply a word but a building block for that child’s brain, nurturing a stable, empathetic, intelligent adult, and had the support to make it happen, what a different world this would be.”
Did you know that holding a pen and writing letters is linked to hand development in children not necessarily age or brain?
Play based learning is the best way for young children to develop their fine motor skills as the foundations for writing. Playdoh, building blocks, threading and finger painting are how children develop control and strength in their hands. Hand-eye co-ordination is also a major factor and is present in all those activities.
Learning to hold a pen is a process that moves through four stages, all of these are closely linked to hand development in children.
All children go at their own pace as their hands develop and as cartilage becomes bone. They also need to develop upper and core body strength in addition to fine motor skills.
The below x-ray shows a 7 years old’s hand compared to a pre-schoolers. You can clearly see where the bones are yet to meet. This accounts for the fact that some young children really struggle to control a pen well enough to start their letters.
Nurturing the whole body and not focusing in on the tool, the pen or pencil, allows children to grow into their capabilities. There really is no urgent need to introduce pen/pencils and toys that mimic them in a toddler environment. Once a child enters the pre-school rooms they will be introduced to more complex forms of mark-making. In the meantime, we concentrate on developing all the foundational elements to ensure that when the child is ready, they are able to enjoy and thrive as they learn to write.
For more on how writing and reading starts with play, check this out.
Does your face light up?
The American novelist Toni Morrison is the author of too many works to mention here. She is also the recipient of just as many significant awards, among them the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Toni is celebrated for her commentary on American politics and race relations, but what you may not know is the simple advice she gave regarding what our faces tell our children.
Before we open our mouths, children have already received a message from our face. Toni believed that it’s our faces that first convey our love and affection.
Toni asked, “When your child enters the room, does your face light up?”
As a parent or teacher, we often default to assessing our children as they enter the space. We are checking to see if they are:
- Noisy or quiet
- Dressed or disheveled
- Clean or dirty
- Happy or sad
These criticisms and judgements are written on our face, plain to see, as if we had spoken them. Our love for them is not on display in that moment. That very significant moment, of them first entering our space.
What if we made a conscious effort to smile in delight when our child (spouse, lover, brother mother etc) enters the room?
What if they saw validation and love in our eyes FIRST, before we remind them of the chores they still haven’t done?
Toni said, “Let your face speak what is in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them.”
This has a profound effect on self-esteem, confidence, and security of a child.
Does your face light up? Let’s make sure it does.
ENROL ONLINE TODAY!
Enrol your child today! Include a visit before your tamariki begins to get to know us. We are looking forward to meeting you!