Sunday, January 25, 2015

Apology accepted!

Teachable moments occur in the course of each day ... Sometimes,  the most important, authentic social learning comes from these moments.

Little ones are not born with the ability to know how to apologize. They benefit from you modeling how to do this, so that it becomes natural for them, and then can happen spontaneously in the future. When something happens between friends, siblings, or classmates that calls for an apology, look for your child's ability to stop and say the words or make the gesture. If they aren't able or ready, show them explicitly how to do this :) Just as we model other activities, we can teach accountability, apology, and work on empathy.

Teach your children that apologies are necessary and should be direct and specific. Model this with yourself, as well. When something goes wrong, as it sometimes will, and the teacher (or parent) makes a mistake - possibly attributing blame to the wrong person or misunderstanding a situation - use it as an opportunity to model, as well as to truly apologize.

All of the children who have passed through my classes know "even grown-ups make mistakes." Getting down to eye level, directing my attention to the small person involved, and saying specifically why I am sorry ... "I'm sorry I thought you were talking, when you were actually working so quietly ... can you forgive me? I'll try to look more carefully next time." This shows that child and all observing exactly what an apology should look like and sound like.

I think forgiveness also comes easier to those who know how to apologize. Once your child starts to see the impact of their actions, intentional or not, they also are better able to see their place in the group, and feel the power of forgiveness. A team dynamic in your home or classroom will help your child in many aspects of their lives.

So, have fun - and apologize when necessary!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Numbers, numbers, everywhere!

So, your children are ready to begin counting?! First, you want to start with one-to-one correspondence ... touching each object as you count and associating the oral number with a bunch of objects. As you are counting blocks, touch and say, "one, two, three - I have three blocks!" You should see your child copy this behavior, after some modeling. Then, play games to see who has how many - I have three cars, how many do you have?

After children understand that groups of objects can be assigned a word (numbers), show them what numbers look like! Show numbers in text and play a find the number game. There are many counting books available, with fantastic illustrations, to help generate interest! Whatever your child is interested in, there is probably a book that shows counting and numbers related to it! Eric Carle's wordless book, "1, 2, 3, To the Zoo!" is a favorite to start with. Look for Dinosaur counting books, books with fairies, etc., ... there is something for everyone! "Over in the Meadow" and the "Five Little Monkeys" books are favorites for rhyming songs with numbers. 

When your child is ready, look for numbers in other printed material, such as newspaper flyers and mailers, and make separate collages of each number - work on one number at a time. Use Legos to "build" the number and talk about how it is formed. Play some silly finger plays like "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" to reinforce the number names, too!

When you're ready for hands-on number making practice, use the different letter forming fun tricks mentioned in former posts! You can also find heavy-duty plastic paper protector sheets for 8 1/2 by 11 paper and make some templates to slip in. Then, practice with dry erase markers to your heart's content :) Some children like to practice using a Rainbow Write technique, which is to form the number with a pencil very nicely, and then go over it for repetition with many colored pencils. 

Take it step-by-step and only introduce the next step when your child is ready. Frustration is the last thing you want your child feeling! Have fun!