Submitted by Don Doman.
Usually children are smarter than we think. They still need help and guidance, however. Quite often encouragement alone carries the day.
As young grandparents we didn’t expect to be babysitters, but we quickly adapted to the needs of our children and their children. Teaching children is almost as fun as being a child. My wife and I read with our grandchildren, played games with them, took them on special outings, gave them chores to do, attended plays and concerts with them, cooked with them and cleaned house with them.
I’m actually a student of Alison Gopnick. She wrote The Philosophical Baby. I love her work. She is a philosopher, a psychologist, and an expert in child behavior, intelligence, and thinking. She says, “Right now my students and I are especially interested in how children learn about the causal structure of the world – how some things make other things happen. We explore how children learn by observing statistical patterns, doing experiments and watching the experiments of others. Most recently, we’ve been particularly interested in how children figure out psychological causality and how that helps them build a “theory of mind”. Our current interests include studies of the role of causal understanding in imitation, trait attribution, animal cognition, and even free will.”
Here are a few helpful suggestions (and great discussion points) on dealing with preschool learning and adjusting:
- People as well as young children generally live up to YOUR expectations. Expect more . . . Expect better.
- Let them work . . . and figure it out.
- Live with it. Don’t correct or re-do what they’ve done.
- Children don’t solve problems unless you give them an opportunity to try.
- Give them a simple task.
- Praise – Praise – Praise – This works for dogs and spouses as well as children.
- Same Old/Same Old – Use comforting routines.
- Ad lib with play. Don’t tell them how or what to do. Let them discover and play.
- Go with the flow – Make a game of it.
- Use charts and simple rewards. I took piano lessons as a child and the reward was a sticker for a piece well played. It made me proud of my work and effort.
- Structure – If this, then that . . . Explain steps.
- No “Ifs” “Ands” or “Buts.” This is the way it is. Don’t reward bad behavior.
- Provide music tools. We kept a box of musical items in our guest bedroom as well as an Autoharp and a Melodica. Let them make their own music.
- Join the Team. You and Bobby . . . or pick someone to work with you . . .
- Explain what is going to happen.
- Overcoming conflict. As long as no one is being injured, you can let children choose how they will overcome conflict.
- Sleep. Learning is hard work. Preschool children need between 10-13 hours of sleep every twenty-four hours . . . AND THAT INCLUDES NAPS!
As parents we need to help our children along their journey in life giving them the benefit of our wisdom and the wisdom of others that we think will guide them now as children and later as adults with their own children. Preschool is about the future as much as it is about the present.