If you're a parent or a provider of children birth-8, you're probably stressed and maybe a little bit tired right now. How could you not be? You really have a lot of uncertainty in your life to deal with. But if you're like most of us, you're coping the best you can and hanging in there with the pros.
As a professional childcare provider for 43 years with over 75,000 hours of hands-on experience under my belt, and a master's degree in human development, I can tell you"re doing a great job. Even if you're not the best parent in the world, your the one they need today.
I know that because you're the ones taking the time to think about what you're doing and poke around to see if there's something more to learn today. If you like the kind of learning that's interesting and fun, check out my blog about Sleep Eating Learning and Fun (SELF) at www.paradoxhealthyliving.com .
I designed the entire website as a virtual playground for parents and providers of young children before COVID even hit and it's all free so come on over and sign up for my email list if you haven't already! I'd love to welcome you to my community of VIPPs (Very Important Parents and Providers). I do my best to care for caregivers because I know how important you really are.
The efficacy of our brain's development ultimately depends on the quality of the sensory and emotional experiences we have in the first 36 months of our lives. This is the period of time during which 80% of our neural pathways will form, leaving only 20% for the rest of our learning lives.
It turns out to be undeniably true that "The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world".
But you probably already knew that so let's talk about what you can do today to make sure your child's development stays on track even during COVID and online learning.
#1 Provide sensory experiences for your child. These are important for all children and that's why almost all children seek them out. Think water play, sand play, heavy lifting, and/or swinging. If your child has sensory issues these experiences are even more important for their development. The amazing thing about sensory experiences is that they open the pathways of the brain up for learning in new ways and stretching out mental and physical capacities.
Music and movement experiences work especially well because they are multi-sensory experiences that used rhythm, language, and physical skills to provide your child with a complete learning experience. Try any song by Jim Gill or this free playlist I designed for my community members to try at home with their families.
#2. Provide emotional learning experiences for your child intentionally like they do in Denmark where they were voted the happiest people in the world for 40 years straight! They have a formal program that kids receive starting at age three. We really need something like that here in the States to increase the level of emotional intelligence including empathy and anti-bias attitudes.
In the meantime, you can replicate what they do by sitting with your child preferably in a cuddly position, looking at pictures, and/or reading a story. In order to intentionally teach emotional skills, talk with your child about the faces of the characters, their body language, and what they might be feeling.
#3. Stay interested in what they're learning in school. Talk with them, using their natural curiosity as leverage. Try asking this question when they come to you for reassurance and want to show you their work. Instead of automatically saying "great job", take time to study what they've shown you.
"Did you do your best? Tell me about it" or "Which parts do you like the best?" after you ask, then listen to what they say carefully without judging. Teaching kids to deal with constructive criticism is one thing but it's even better to get them to scrutinize and improve on their own work.
And while we're at it, let's stop comparing kids to each other, it's really not very helpful since no two will ever be alike and it just makes it more difficult to enjoy the children that are with us today. If you're feeling challenged by your child's behavior, you might want to read my article on How To Have a Great Day With Your Challenging Child(ren).
If you like what you're reading and appreciate the 3-minute, affiliate-free reading experience, stay tuned because we'll have a few really great products available soon that you're going to absolutely love. Our next live event will be a socially distanced family dance party for all of our community members near Madison, WI. Sign up here to stay in the loop, it's free.
Nanci J Bradley, 60+, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI