Thursday, March 5, 2015

Activities for Promoting Child Development

I wrote a paper for a college class called "The School-Age Child", which is aimed generally at after-school care. I would like to share with you the parts of that paper that were strictly my own, in other words, not the parts sourced and cited from the textbook, but my own experiences that I shared, as they touch on some of the knowledge in that text.  


Children's healthy physical growth may be influenced by how much time they spend exercising, as well as the food that is consumed.

In addition to providing wholesome meals and snacks, and trying to make sure those children who are poor have some nutritious food to eat, I would also share with the children books that help them to understand the value of good food. One book that I like is Gail Gibbon's The Vegetables We Eat.

Another one I like for children is Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon. While this book does promote sweets, they are homemade, and it provides cultural lessons as well, as it shows all the different people who make the ingredients and supplies possible. I feel this gives them an appreciation for the people who provide our food, as well as the value of food, apart from highly-processed foods.

When I taught a weekly four-hour preschool class a few years ago, we had limited indoor space and equipment for working on gross-motor skills. We did have outdoor time, but during some of our indoor time, we encouraged physical activity with games such as Duck, Duck, Goose, and other circle games.

Simple crafts are one way that children can practice fine motor skills. When my children were young, we often kept many of our crafts very inexpensive, simple, and child-oriented. The children might cut strips, and tape together paper chains, or cut snowflakes by folding and cutting white paper. They would cut pictures of people out of old catalogs to use in their imaginative play. They would make their own greeting cards or placemats out of old greeting cards and other pictures. All they needed were the supplies and ideas, and then they would teach each other and have a good time, not realizing they were practicing skills at the same time, but thinking they were just having fun.

I know how much an appropriate environment can help children in cognitive development, because I experienced the reverse during the first few weeks that I taught a weekly preschool homeschool co-op. I would bring the weeks' resources in bags each week. We had no permanent set-up at the time, plus, other children and adults came through our room to get to wherever they were going. It was very chaotic, and the children could not focus, until we found a better facility, where I could set up different kinds of toys and supplies in different areas of the room for children to select from. This changed the whole atmosphere and allowed the children to pursue learning with joy. We didn't have carpeting so it was noisy, especially when they played with the trucks and cars, but it was, nevertheless, peaceful, with the children knowing where everything was from week to week and being able to pursue their interests during free play time, and focus during structured lessons.

Another area of development is psychosocial and moral. When I taught kindergarten through second grade children many years ago, we discussed the rules thoroughly, in language they could understand, along with the reasons for those rules. If a child told on another child for something (which was only encouraged if safety was involved), or if two children got into a physical or verbal altercation, we would discuss it thoroughly, one on one, both so I could understand what happened, and also so they could understand what happened and what they might do differently in the future. I did this with my own children also, but as I learned more and they grew older, sometimes we would change some kinds of rules according to the need or situation.

P.S. A special thank you here to my dear friend, Ivonne Hernandez, for finding us a more suitable facility for that homeschool co-op class that I mention above, and to my new friend, Beate Buescher, for the recommendation of the lovely book, Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?


Beate said...

I'm so glad you like the book - for me it was a nice reminder of how far our prayers reach when we ask God to bless all the hands that helped provide our meal. Another great food related picture book is Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert :-).
I love you inexpensive craft ideas. Kids love the freedom to create out of our scraps, don't they?

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Beate, that's such a lovely thought about how far our prayers reach. I will look into the other book, too. And yes, about the crafts. :) One of my good memories is putting a roll of scotch tape in the stocking of everyone who was old enough to use it (their "very own"). My Paul was so excited, as he said, "A tape!!" :)