Ahhhhh a song from my childhood and hopefully Marlo Thomas’s voice rings a bell in your head as well.

I have used this song for a pre-school graduation song, long and somewhat complicated to teach mixed ability children.  They had so much fun singing it, the words made sense… Other teachers in the school thought I was nuts.

Children learn when they are comfortable and sense that you are genuinely excited to play (teach) them.  I have seen teachers use repetitive simple songs, and give children candy to “practice” and learn their graduation songs so they’re parents will be proud of them.  ARRGHGHGH!!!  The point of being a child is to be a child. Every moment is a teachable moment. If your child is only doing repetitive behaviors, by introducing a new item to play with, it is setting them up for success and gives them a reason to experiment and therefore naturally learn.

I have worked with children who can not keep their bodies still for a song, I have them use streamers to dance around with.  Knowing which children could handle what, and preparing them and yourself for what they will do well creates happy children, and happy children learn.

All children have special talents. Whether they have labeled special need or not.  As caregivers, our job is to figure out what a child’s talent is, embrace it, and give the child opportunities to thrive and feel good with what they are interested in naturally.  The best way to do this, is to lay off directing them on what to do, and observe.  Many parents I see and have worked with constantly tell them what to do, what not to do and what to beware of.   I sense that caregivers feel guilty if they are not doing anything with a child.  By giving them the responsibility to take care of themselves during playtime (which does not include television) they are getting them message that you trust them.

I always suggest musical instruments.  Home made rain sticks or egg shakers.  Leave them out and see what happens. Colorful streamers and music. Depending on the age of your child, you can also leave a camera out, a old fashioned tape recorder or even a video camera.  If you find yourself thinking “yeah right, not my child.”  Embrace your feelings and let your child be creative with something you feel happy and secure about leaving them unattended with.  Ask your child’s teacher where your child seems to play the most.

I must make a special note to not include electronic games.  Not only am I not a fan of these games.  I see children using them as a friend, a place to get lost.  When using these games, their peripheral vision is not utilized, any chance of a expanding social skills is nill.   Their creativity is squashed and they become robots.  So maybe you could talk me into letting a child play with electronics on a long car ride, but I doubt it.

Having any child conform is part of society’s weirdness.  Especially when a child is pre-school age.  This is the age where a child can learn the most and their brain is most malleable.  Its important to teach them to regard themselves with high self esteem, not only letters and numbers.  If a child is forced to sit and do a worksheet, or to identify pictures   watch what happens. In my experience a child will throw their body to the floor, lose focus and stop attending, or find anything to distract them.  Meanwhile if your child is having fun and shaking a tambourine you can make up a song about animals and the sounds they make, or they can march around an alphabet (a favorite song by Hap Palmer)

By forcing a child to sit and learn, what we are really teaching them is learning only happens when its forced and uncomfortable.  This is how children get labeled behavior problems.

Love your child for who they are and where they are at. You can carry over any lesson learned in school – think fun and learning will automatically happen.

Happy day!