Category Archives: Preschoolers

He Said, She Said

Parents seem to talk constantly.  Yesterday, I was in a relatively full elevator in very tall building with a mom and her approximately 15-month-old daughter.  The mom talked to the daughter the entire trip up the elevator.

Mom: “Is the door closing?”

Daughter: “Yeah.”

Mom: “That lady has a pretty hat, doesn’t she”

Daughter: “Yeah. Hat.”

Mom: “Do you want a hat like that?”

Daughter: “Yeah.”

Mom: “The elevator is going up, up, up.”

Daughter: “Yeah. Up.”

Mom: “The door is opening”

Daughter: “Yeah.”

Mom: “Time to get out”

Daughter: “Yeah.  Out.”

Many parents begin talking to their children before they are even born and they just keep right on talking… forever! And while many teenagers think that their parents talk entirely too much, all of this talking is actually very good for development.

According to Lev Vygotsky- a psychologist from the early 1900’s- social interaction and scaffolding are particularly important for children’s cognitive development.  Vygotsky is probably best known for two terms “zone of proximal development” and “scaffolding”.    According to Vygotsky, the “zone of proximal development” is a period in which a child can almost but not completely perform a task independently. But with the help of someone more advanced or knowledgable, like a parent, the child can complete the task.  For example, the little girl on the elevator was just learning to speak.  She clearly had a few words and she was beginning to engage in conversation with her mom.  Her mother was clearly working within her child’s zone of proximal development by asking her questions using words that the child knew and some words that the child could say or repeat, like “hat”, “up” and “out”.  The little girls’ mother was scaffolding her daughters language learning.  Like the scaffolding that is used to help workers to reach higher up when they build a building, this mother was supporting the child’s learning by prompting her with questions that had answers that she knew the child had the words to answer but that were slightly challenging and helped her daughter grow and continue to practice and develop her language.

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Filed under Infants, Preschoolers, Toddlers

Sesame Street for Kids and Parents!

Technology is pretty amazing these days.  The other day on the train, I sat behind a mom and her young daughter (about 3.5) listening to music on the mom’s phone (the mom and daughter each had one earphone in their ear) and the little girl was dancing and singing to the music.  Another day, there was a father with his young son on the train and the little boy was playing a puzzle game on his father’s iphone. On a plane I sat next to mother and daughter (her husband and son were in the seats behind us) and she showed me the various games and online books that her Kindergartener likes to play on her iphone as she discussed why she doesn’t allow her children to watch TV.  Kids, even really little ones, are using these new technologies and parents are letting them. There was a very moving article in the New York Time back in October about Toddlers and iPhones.

So if kids love these technologies and parents have them, how can we use some of these technologies in ways that support child development rather than act as distractors or babysitters?  SesameWorkshop has a Parents page that offers wonderful video clips and games that you can watch on your computer or smartphone with your child.  After watching each video model an at home activity around it!

For example,  Sesame Street offers Math is Everywhere

Here, watch this video about patterns “Wiggle Wiggle Hop”.  After, see if together you and your child can create other dance move patterns!

Each of the clips on this site can provide an example (both for you and your child) of a lesson, after you watch or play the games, try to come up with your own creative ways to do something similar in your home!

Sesame Street also offers a Get Ready For School Section with videos about sharing, anger management, sleep, etc.  Also they offer opportunities to help parents explore these concepts by providing ideas about questions to ask your kids after you watch each video.  For example, Care a Lot Share a Lot talks about the importance of sharing.  Sesame Street suggests you watch the video and then ask your child about what things they can share at school.  They also include activities that you can play with your children related to each topic! Great parenting tips!

Sesame Street offers fun activities and videos to help your children develop their literacy skills: See Words Words Words!

Potty Training? Sesame Street offers videos and parenting advice for that too!

Have a two year old? Here are some videos and activities that you could play with them!

Remember, kids learn by playing and experiencing things first hand.  Videos and games online can be a great resource to help give parents ideas about lessons and to give children a bit of information about a new topic, but as a parent you want to expand upon the ideas you get from websites like Sesame Street.  If you watch a video showing The Count counting bats outside, next time you are at a park with your child, remind them of the video and ask them to count the birds they see in a tree or how many slides there are to slide down!

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Filed under Preschoolers, Toddlers

Parenting Ed

In Massachusetts, and many other states,  you have to complete a Driver’s Education Course to get your License (See DMV website). As part of the course you have to attend  30 hours of classroom instruction, 12 hours behind the wheel, and 6 hours of observation from the backseat while another student driver takes your life in their hands.  In addition, you have to spend 40 hours practicing with your parent.  All of this to drive a motor vehicle from  your home to the grocery store.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of Driver’s Ed  You are operating a motor vehicle out on the streets where there are other people in cars, pedestrians, and young children running after soccer balls into the streets.  It’s not just your life that is in danger when you are driving, it’s the lives of your friends, family, and people you have never met and their friends and families.   I don’t question Driver’s Ed, but what I wonder is how can we be so concerned about properly operating motor vehicles and not have the same preemptive sense to require something similar of parents before they have a child? Why isn’t there a “Parenting Ed” requirement?  I mean, as a parent it’s not just you out there “on the road”.  As a parent you are impacting the life of your child and the lives of the other children and people that your child interacts with.  Shouldn’t parents be at least as informed about basic health and child development objectives when they bring a child into this world as they are about using arm signals to make a right hand turn when they decide to drive their Honda to the mall?

I started this website because I wanted to help parents and kids.  I believe that everyone can be a good parent and everyone should be a good parent, but I don’t believe that everyone is naturally born ready to parent well. I believe that no one learns to drive a car in the classroom of Driver’s Ed, but having that background information before you get thrown into a high-stress potentially dangerous situation can be life saving.  Understanding background information about child development and parenting practices is important to help parents react when the realities and challenges of parenthood come at full force.   So, I’m using this website  as an opportunity to reach out to parents who may want to learn more about child development.  I’m starting my own online Parenting Ed: Child Development Basics.  Hope you enjoy!

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Filed under Elementary School Age, Infants, Preschoolers, Toddlers