Instead of screen time, especially when you and your children are at home, encourage your child to play!
Over the past 50 years, much research has demonstrated the powerful impact of play on your child's later learning. These benefits are for children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and language development. When children become immersed in play, the create themes, explore environments, solve problems, and developing shared understandings about the world around them!
You will observe your child play differently depending on the situation. They may play with other children in "parallel play", meaning next to each other but each paying attention to their own "toys" (objects, context, environment). They also may play cooperatively, taking on different roles or imaginary scenarios. All kinds of play are valuable!
Another reason play is so important is empathy. Through play, children learn the value of others' points of view and others' perspectives. This makes them more caring. They even learn to appreciate others' values and cultures through play. They learn to experiment and get better at language as they interact with their friends. They learn build their fine and gross motor skills. They grow their hand eye coordination.
You can support your child's play by providing space, opportunity, and materials. Make sure you choose spaces where kids can play without fear of damaging furniture or injuring themselves. Give the child time to become engaged in their own play activities of their own choice.
Play is fun. But it also is serious learning that pays off big time when it is time for children to do more formal learning!
Children seem to be full of anxiety over making mistakes. Making mistakes and failing can feel bad, but they’re also an opportunity to get better at something. Encourage your child to think about ways to get better using these techniques: asking for help, using a new strategy, and working harder.
Ask your child to describe a personal experience that involved making a mistake or failing at something. Together think about how that experience can be used as an opportunity to get better. Talk about a time you failed at something and how you learned from the experience.
Over the years, your child's friend group has probably changed. This is because as your child grows, they are exploring the values he or she wants in a friend. This will help your child make new friends and be a better friend to others. You can be supportive by asking your child about his or her friends, including what he or she likes about them.
As your child progresses through middle school and high school, your child will learn ways to make new friends. This can help your child build positive relationships with his or her peers. One way to provide support is to tell your child about a friend you made when you were younger, and explain how you became friends with this person. Ask your child how he or she makes friends at school, and what can sometimes make it difficult.
Making new friends can cause much anxiety. Joining an activity in which your child has no friends can be a struggle. You can help alleviate this anxiety by telling your child about a time you made a new friend. Explain what you did and how you did it. Ask your child if there’s someone he or she would like to make friends with and how he or she will do so.
Values are things you believe are important in the way you live, work, parent, or learn. Your child also has their own set of values, things they value, or believe are important. As your child explores and thinks about their values, they will be exploring and expanding their own identity. This is great because they can use their values to help them make good decisions. While not exhaustive, here is a list of values.
You can support this by asking your child about some of his or her values. Talk about how his or her values are similar to or different from yours. Encourage your child in thinking about how his or her values can help make school a place where everyone feels safe and welcome.
Think of a group your child belongs to outside of school. Ask your child how thinking about his or her values can help him or her be a positive influence on this group.
This week I had a chance to meet with the 7th grade team to talk about student goal setting, and we focused on If-then plans. We are working on helping your child to learn how to use If–Then Plans for making positive choices in difficult situations. Research shows this is a great way for students to prepare for difficult situations before they happen.
Ask your child what an If–Then Plan is. Work together to make a plan for one of their personal goals. See how your child can respond positively to a difficult situation he or she might encounter at home.
This week I spent some time talking to the Eighth grade team about goal setting and using different goal setting strategies. Think about what kind of effective strategies your child uses for achieving goals. Do they break big goals down into one achievable goal at a time? Do they break their goals into small, simple steps? Help them create plans for how to take each step.
Think of a time you achieved a big goal, such as learning to drive or graduating from school. Tell your child about your goal and how you achieved it, and ask your child to tell you about a goal he or she has.
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
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