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Benefits of Science and the Young Child

Science is probably one of the fewest subjects that is responsive to a child’s need to learn about the world surrounding them.  Children absolutely love science.  When children are engaged in a science project they are no longer disruptive because they are too busy exploring.  When children work together on science projects their interactions will increase with conservation.  Their conversations will result in cooperative behaviors.  Children will begin to talk to each other about their predictions,  what they observe, and they will ask questions.

 

Each day children do science of some sort regardless of the environment in which they live. Children observe and learn that things change and in order for that change to occur there is a process.  The concept of change can be explored when cooking a pancake.  Children know that pancake mix begins as a powder, then it changes to a liquid, next it becomes a solid pancake ready for consumption.  Paying attention to the process of cooking the pancake offers a new strategy of taking similar objects and events to provide in meaningful context that will teach new vocabulary and science concepts.  When these opportunities present themselves, they provide learning experiences that are relevant to the child’s surroundings.

When children enter the classroom, they come with a range of capabilities.  Some have been more exposed to scientific concepts than others.  When these same children are working on a project learning the concept of sink and float they may explore it differently.  For instance, the child who has been exposed more to their environment may experiment more with several objects to make a determination if they sink or float.  Then the other child may only explore with one object.  It all depends on the student and what they have been previously exposed to.  These open ended science activities are imperative for meeting the developmental needs of children.  Open-ended activities allow children to explore an activity at their own pace.

Children love to experiment independently.  Which is why hands-on science activities are essential for children to develop their individual needs.  When children engage freely in science activities, adults have the opportunity to observe children exploring and seeing what they have learned.  If we go back to the example of the concept sink or float, the child who is constantly testing new objects may be ready to move on to something more challenging.  The other student who was only using one object may now be ready to explore more.  While children test and explore, they begin to realize that some experiments will work while others do not.  This is critical to the learning process.

Science concepts require adequate comprehension and vocabulary skills.  One of the best ways to teach and to reinforce science vocabulary concepts is by using non-fiction books.  These books open the door for a variety of concepts.  Additionally, it brings the concepts to life and provides a better understanding of science concepts.  For those children who are early or emergent readers, it is a good idea to read aloud non-fiction stories and discuss what was learned.

Trial and error is so important when learning science.  Adults can assist in this by planning some possible solutions and making predictions to what might be the most effective.  Then test out those predictions.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  How could you do it differently next time? You may want to have the student write down the experiences in a journal to keep track of what was learned.

 

How does literacy begin?

During the first three years of a child’s life early literacy begins and continues to develop. The experiences that a child initially has with literacy sets the stage for other experiences a child may have with books and stories. Children learn literacy through adult interactions. These interactions are when adults expose children to literacy materials, like books, pencils, and crayons. Social interactions between adult and child are vital to teaching children how to talk, read, and write. Literacy skills develop from these settings through positive interaction with literacy materials and adults.

Prior to reading and entering formal school, children learn about language from their surroundings. This is called environmental print. Environmental print is the print of objects and places that we see daily. Usually it consists of symbols, signs, numbers, and colors found in logos. Some common logos are Burger King, Target, or Pizza Hut. Since children are already aware of these products, these logos are excellent starting points for children to begin their first literacy experiences. Other reasons why these are a great way to start literacy is because children have experience going to these places. When they attend these places with an adult they are constantly reading within context daily.


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Although it is crucial for children to be fluent readers, it is important to realize that very young children must have developmentally appropriate literacy experiences. Meaning that it would not be appropriate to have infants and toddlers exposed to formal reading and writing instruction. Instead, at this age the focus should be on the pure enjoyment of reading. Allow children to explore books at their own pace. Provide positive interactions between children and adults, as well as literacy rich experiences. If children are forced into writing and reading of actual words before they are ready, they can become discouraged. This can result in lack of confidence.

Behaviors that demonstrate literacy awareness
As children become more aware of literacy you will notice a difference in their behaviors. A child’s first initial response to a book is to put it in their mouth. However, as the child grows, you will observe that they will pay more attention and interact with pictures in books. For example, you may notice how a child will stare at pictures or laugh at their favorite picture in the book. Soon children will begin to recognize pictures seen previously by pointing at them. Another example, children demonstrate understanding is when they imitate an action they see in a picture or they will engage in a conversation about a particular picture. Finally, understanding of verbal interactions are apparent when children begin babbling and pretending to read by making up their own words, or by using their finger to point at the words.



Choosing the right books for your child
Selecting a book can be a challenge. Here are some suggestions for choosing a book for infants to 3 year olds.

Infants 0-12months

• Simple books with large pictures, bright colors, and designs.
• Sturdy books that can be placed in a crib.
• Washable books like cloth that have very simple pictures.
• Books with pictures of other children.
• Sensory books that are colorful.
• Sturdy large books with many pictures.
• Vinyl books for bath time.

Toddlers 12months to 3 years

• Heavy duty books for them to carry.
• Plenty of books with illustrations of children playing and doing similar things like eating, sleeping, or reading.
• Simple message books like how to open and close.
• Books with only one or two words for each page.
• Simple non-fiction books.
• Books with story rhymes and predictable text like Brown Bear.

How do you teach literacy skills to babies and toddlers?

  • Plan on reading books daily and make it part of your routine.  Select a designated time specifically for reading.
  • Take advantage of learning moments.  If your child asks what something says then read it out loud and spell each letter in the word.
  • At this age, keep in mind that they move a lot.  They may not be able to sit through the entire book. This will change as they get older.
  • Let the child show some independence and allow them to turn the pages.  In the early years they may need assistance. By the time they are 3 they will be able to do it alone.
  • Teach about book awareness.  Let children know about the front of the book, the back of the book, the spine, and show them where to open the book to start reading.
  • Take a moment to explain what the story is about.  This will help with story comprehension.
  • As you read the story use your finger to point to the words.  When you do this you are teaching print awareness.
  • Bring the story to life by making funny voices to go along with the characters.
  • See if there is anything in the story that relates to the child’s life.
  • Have a conversation about some of the items in the story they know about and which objects were new.
  • When you have completed the story, discuss the story, and make up some questions about the events, or setting.

 

Developing the Young Mind with Chess

When the game of chess first comes to mind we rarely think of young children. Generally, we associate the game of chess with older children and adults. However, recent studies indicate that there are several benefits to introducing children to chess. Chess is a reminder to all of us that traditional games are highly beneficial to children. Making chess a part of children’s extra curricular activities is a sure way to boost their intelligence and test scores.

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Advantages of Playing Chess

Parents are constantly searching on ways to enhance their child’s education. Most often we focus heavily on skills that currently need to be developed while overlooking life skills. Chess is a game of strategy. So therefore, every piece on the board has its own unique movement, which makes the game complex. When a child is introduced to the game of chess it teaches the child to realize the challenges associated with the game. Children learn that there are several ways in which the pieces can be moved. Learning how to analyze each move improves math skills.

Life long skills are developed by playing chess. One important feature a child will learn in chess is the ability to interpret body language. Understanding body language and reading expressions during a game will assist in planning their strategy in advance. Although, this skill applies to chess, it is equally essential as adults. Having the ability to predict issues along with the consequences of actions in advance will teach reasoning.

If your child is overactive with a constant need to move, then playing chess would be to their advantage. Chess requires one to sit in one place and concentrate. For many, this allows them to be calmer children with less aggression. Being calm and observant is essential in the game of chess. A child has to learn how their opponent will play, and and remember their moves.

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Benefits of Playing Chess

• Logical thinking is developed when playing chess. In order to play chess, it requires the understanding of logical strategy.

• Chess is a great game to enhance creativity. It encourages children to invent many combinations. Playing chess will teach them how to develop the best plan with endless    possibilities.

• Independence is taught from playing chess. Chess forces you to use your own judgement to make important decisions. A crucial skill not only as a child but as an adult.

• Perseverance is one of the most important skills anyone could ever have. Not only as a child but as an adult as well. What better way than to teach this than through the game of chess! Chess clearly demonstrates that success is rewarded with hard work. It is so important for children to realize that this can only be accomplished with practice.

• Chess plays an important role in improving science, and math. Playing science helps children with scientific thinking skills, such as exploring new ideas, predicting outcomes, producing several variations in your head, and most importantly you have a hypothesis and test it. Math is improved because there are a large number of calculations in chess. This greatly improves math because it requires a child to calculate in their head without relying on a machine to do it for them.

• What better way to have fun and improve grades and test scores at the same time! Chess will do just that. When children play chess, they test higher in reading and math. Generally, children who play chess have more success at learning during their primary years and in college.

Keep Children Interested in Chess

Now that your child has expressed an interest in chess, you are wondering how do I keep them interested and engaged. This is commonly asked by parents during the time in which their child is developing skills they need to be successful at playing chess. Here are some helpful suggestions for parents.

• Have children at the same level play entire games together.
• You can turn the board around during the game. This can be done after a certain number of moves have been made, or if it is requested by the child. It is suggested that it be done 2 or 3 times during the game.

• The adult can play touch-move on the computer, so if it is touched on the computer then it still has to be moved.

• Allow the child an opportunity to undo a move a couple of times and take another direction.

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