As you gear up for the new year, you have a chance for fresh positive start for you and your children together from day one. So here is 10 ways to meet some of this year’s resolutions…..
1. Choose relevant materials.
Children build their learning on their own family culture and are more enthusiastic if they can build on their existing experience. Get together a short list on their favourite interests and use that information to assist in building your plans for the year.
2. Strategic use of resources
You’ve probably already been setting up for the new year. What kind of inspirational posters are you pinning to the walls? What resources do you want your children to absorb as they look around? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create? How do you want to feel when you walk into your room? If you share a room, can you do anything to make that room feel like the kind of space that inspires? What kind of colours and what type of light? What mysterious corners can you create? What places invite children in? There’s not one perfect learning space for every single learner. Find another way to present resources, put them outside or in an unexpected place. Move the furniture or shelving. Be conscious of the impact of our everyday environment.
3. Link routines to learning
Promote learning through daily routines. For instance, a child learning to wash hands can also be taught science concepts (body parts, hygiene and disease prevention, water conservation), letter recognition (on bathroom signage), antonyms (hot/cold, left/right), and maths (counting).
4. Encourage reading
We all know that we do not read enough anymore, and we feel like it’s just one more thing we’ll never get around to doing. At the beginning of every week ask your children to choose a special book in to read. It can be a magazine, a book, or a comic as long as the content is appropriate for young readers. Allow a child to integrate their most-loved characters and possessions into your reading time, or to speak using a favourite puppet or toy. Periodically announce a “bonus reading time.” This can be a great way to fill a few minutes whilst thinking about an unexpected issue.
5. Connect with families
If you spend your whole day dealing with children, it’s hard to get up extra energy to talk to other parents. But this year, set aside time and a goal of increasing positive communication with parents about all the good things and learning seen in others. Find ways for parents to share anything about their child or their family. Offer a cup of tea or a short sit down to talk. It could inform you of a personal situation in the family, or share tips about they manage their child’s particular quirks. It is a chance to be honest and talk about potential challenges ahead.
6. Plan a new daily personal interaction
If you have many children in your care, choose a time of day when you will personally interact with every child. Greet children at the beginning of the day or at mealtimes. Speak to each individual child every day. Make it a point to give a compliment to one child and to to ask them a question about something that matters to them. You may notice a few common patterns, like you speak to the same child and not so much to others. You maybe almost always positive with some and consistently negative with others. You may be aware of your personal patterns, consider how you might want to change. Find something special to compliment on. You might be surprised at the conversation that it results in.
7. Help develop self-monitoring skills
Young children need help them develop greater self-regulation skills. We forget that children struggle with self-awareness, they do not even realise when they’re acting in disruptive ways, they are so absorbed in their own moment. Involve them, using their own evaluation to help develop the habits that will help them succeed. Then you will be freed to operate on another level.
8. Ask children to create photo stories
Get a tough and rugged point-and-shoot waterproof camera into the children’s hands or allow them to explore with a disposable cheap camera. Encourage children to use the camera to catch their special moments – a project they are proud of, the mess left over after a particular activity, or a rainbow seen outside the window. Share them with everyone and add in your photographers own comments about the photos.
9. Allow children to set the pace
Try letting children choose their own starting point for the day, and they’ll stay comfortable and challenged. Engagement increases when children are empowered to make their own choices.
10. Finally, find the time to get outside more
Re-connect children with nature and outdoor play, whether we live in cities or the countryside, we have all become more disconnected from nature and the outdoors. Find the wildness on your doorstep, re-discovering local sights, sounds and smells of nature. It could be in your garden, a local park or green space at the end of the road. Spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and adults alike. Research shows that it improves our health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing. See some nature play ideas below.
This article was in our February 2016 newsletter, suscribe and read more here