Encouraging your Child to Take Risks

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Think about the last time you were challenged by something or someone. It could be the months of training for a marathon or an interview for a competitive job. You’ve probably thought about giving up or, thought that you couldn’t complete the task. But you did! Think about the feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and the confidence boost you got. This is the feeling we deprive children of when we intervene too soon as they engage in riskier activities like climbing a tree.

Engaging in risky play can encourage your child to take risks and learn skills that will stick with them for life. Risky play refers to the thrilling and challenging forms of play that involve a risk of physical injury.1 It provides the following benefits for your child:

  1. Promotes Physical Health2

Most risky play involves physical activities. This can include climbing trees, playing in the playground, on the beach, or in water. These activities will challenge and strengthen your child’s muscles, bones, lungs, and heart! The more often your child engages in risky play, the more aware they are of the capabilities and limits of their own body.

  1. Promotes Emotional Health2

Children are capable of assessing and reducing their own risks instinctively. They are overcoming their fears a little bit at a time and trying again when they fail, building resilience and perseverance. You can read more building resilience and perseverance on our Piptree Kids blog here.

When your child moves around a lot and moves quickly, it also trains their vestibular system which can help them regulate their emotions and pay attention in school. Engaging in risky play also allows your child to interact with their peers, practising their social interaction skills! It can also encourage creativity and problem-solving.

5 ways you can help your child take risks at home3

  1. Have a conversation with your child

A study done by Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool found that children are more likely to engage in risky play when adults talk to them about planning for and taking risks.

You can do the same at home with your child! Instead of just saying “be careful” or “don’t do that”, explain what happens if they’re not careful. For example, if they’re using a knife to cut a cake, explain that it is a sharp object and can cut them if they’re not careful. Show them how to handle it safely. You can also use positive reinforcements to explain. If they had cut the cake with the knife by themselves, tell them they did a good job and bring their attention to how they held the knife safely!

When your child understands the risk on their own terms, it can help develop their risk competence. Taking a child-led education approach in this situation is extremely important.

  1. Introduce risk gradually

Start with smaller risks then gradually work your way up to more risks. As your child conquers each stage, they learn how to assess risk and work their way through the problem.

  1. Assume all of your children are competent — regardless of gender

The Adamstown study revealed that while adults were not excluding girls from risky play, educators were more likely to challenge and invite participation from boys. As adults, we often hold intrinsic biases that we might not be aware of. It is important that we check ourselves to see if we:

  • Allow boys to be more independent
  • Assume that girls are not as willing to take risks
  • Dressing girls in outfits that might limit their freedom to play
  • Saying and explaining the same topics differently to girls and boys.

Social norms are learnt behaviours and we have to be careful about how we talk to our children as it can affect the way they behave and act — whether or not they are willing to take risks.

  1. Allow your child to have autonomy but still monitor them closely4

Toddlers and pre-schoolers will want and need an adult to support and supervise play. Other children, on the other hand, might feel self-conscious or shy if an adult is too present in their playtime. You can think of their playtime as a child’s world, and you are a guest in it. If they want you to be a part of their play, express enthusiasm, let your child lead the game, and only offer suggestions when asked. If you were not invited to join, sit away from their play area but ensure that you can still see them and will be able to get to them quickly if anything happens.

  1. Discuss risk at times that don’t directly involve it

When walking together to the shops or driving around in a car, you can talk about the risks involved in crossing roads or walking on a sidewalk. Point out fast cars or point out any other safe or unsafe situations you come across. Encourage your child to notice these things as you go about your daily life.

When it is time to increase their risk and learn a new skill, such as crossing roads on their own, they will be prepared and know what to look out for right away. They will be able to keep themselves safe in a non-stressful situation.

It is also good to get your child to reflect on any fall or other mistake they might have made. Asking them how it happened and what they could do to prevent it from happening again next time will help them understand the risks on their own terms and, again, increase their risk competence.

Assess reward vs risk5

It can be difficult to judge the line between allowing freedom of movement and play choices for your child, and negligence. Here are some questions you can think through:

Think about what the risk to your child is in the worst-case scenario — Could they get a minor injury, like a bruise or a scrape? Could they be slightly uncomfortable in the moment? Could they get dirty?

Assess what the reward for your child could be — Would they conquer the long-time fear they’ve held on to? Would they bond with a peer over a shared exciting experience? Would they learn that getting a minor injury isn’t the end of the world?

Your assessment would be wholly dependent on your child’s age and developmental level, physical abilities, and your own comfort. Trust goes both ways; it begins with letting go of your own desire to control your child’s choices and trust that they are capable of making their own choices. Showing that you have confidence in your child early on will not only strengthen your bond but also increase your child’s confidence.

Child-led risky play

Children learn best through child-led play, and our educators at Piptree make sure that they get plenty of supervised risky play! For example, the Pips children aged 0-15 months at Piptree Heritage Park had a lot of fun in the big yard climbing and building sandcastles with their peers. Head over to our Instagram page to check out more fun social interactive playtimes! You can also check out our blogpost on Nature Play in Early Childhood for some risky play ideas in nature.

 

References

  1. Sandseter, E.B.H. Children’s Risky Play in Early Childhood Education and Care. (Link)
  2. Holecko, C. Why Kids Need to Take Risks in Life. (Link)
  3. Newman, L. and Leggett, N. 5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Take Risks — And Why It’s Good for Them. (Link)
  4. Bright Horizons. How Unstructured Play Can Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking in Children. (Link)
  5. Ringo, S. The Importance of Risky Play in Early Childhood. (Link)

The Benefits of Growing up with Pets

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If you look through your child’s toys and bedroom, you might find an assortment of animal toys, clothes, decorations, movies, books, etc. It’s not a secret that many children love animals. Based on a study by Gail F. Melson, professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University, an estimated 4 in 10 children begin life in a family with pets. As many as 90% of children will have a domestic pet at some point in their life.1

Studies have shown that having a pet in your child’s life is beneficial to their physical, social, and cognitive development. Here are some benefits of growing up with pets:

 

1. Builds confidence

Therapy animals have always been used to help children with learning disabilities to learn. All children can benefit from being in the presence of a nonjudgmental friend.2 They are less likely to stress over reading a story to their furry pal or share any personal stories that they might not feel comfortable sharing with others. Your child will increase their verbal skills as they speak to their pets who will listen with no judgement or consequence.1 Pets can not only provide emotional support for your child but also build their cognitive language skills.

2. Provides comfort

Animals are a great source of comfort. Children often find solace in their pets and are often less anxious and withdrawn than children who don’t have pets.1 Pets also give unconditional love, regardless of what your child shares with them. They will provide your child with a safe space to voice their frustrations and fears, alleviating their stress or anxieties.2

3. Encourages nurturing and empathy

Pets can help your child to develop the ability to care for others. Regardless of their gender, children are all equally involved in taking care of their pet.1 This is a good way to let your child practice being a caregiver while also building empathy. They learn how to read their pet’s needs and help them when they can.

4. Teaches responsibility

Your child will learn the importance of responsibility as they manage simple tasks like filling their pet’s food and water bowls or grooming and walking them. As they take on the responsibility to take care of their pet, it can also build their confidence and allows them to take on more challenging tasks in the future.

5. Keeps your child healthy

Pets can also keep your child mentally and physically healthy. They provide comfort and reduces stress and anxiety, which is beneficial for your child’s mental well-being. Studies have also shown that interactions with their pets can lower blood pressure and speed up their recovery time.2 Having pets at home can also help decrease your child’s risk of developing certain allergies. They might build immunity against certain indoor and outdoor allergens, and early exposure to pets may decrease their risk of developing asthma.3 Children with pets also get outside more as they bring their pets out for either a walk, run, or play.

6. Strengthens family bonds

Pets, unexpectedly, can help bring a family stronger and closer together. They are usually the focus of activities that families do together. Whether it is bringing the pet out for a walk with your family, grooming or feeding, or even just watching your cat or dog chase its tail, spending time together while relaxed is a great way to bond with your family.

 

Pets can help with your child’s development

Having pets in your household will help to foster your child’s emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development. Your child will have a nonjudgmental confidant to find comfort in while learning about responsibility and building confidence. They’re a comforting and loving addition to your family. Here is a little guide you can check out to see which animal would be the best pet to bring into your family!

 

References

  1. Strickland, B. The Benefits of Pets. (Link)
  2. Gross, G. The Benefits of Children Growing Up with Pets. (Link)
  3. NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Multiple Pets May Decrease Children’s Allergy Risk. (Link)

The Benefits of Teaching your Child a Second Language

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In our increasingly globalised world, being bilingual can be extremely helpful in communicating with people of different cultures. Here at Piptree Early Learning, we believe that teaching your child a second language is also good for their mind. Contrary to popular belief, learning a second language does not cause language confusion, language delay, or cognitive deficits. Studies done at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab showed that children who learn a second language can maintain attention despite outside stimuli better than children who only know one language.1

According to Barbara Lust, a developmental psychologist and linguistic expert, this ability is “responsible for selective and conscious cognitive processes to achieve goals in the face of distraction and plays a key role in academic readiness and success in school settings.” These abilities can also contribute to a child’s future academic success.

Young children are especially well-equipped with the capability to accomplish the complex task of language learning. Here are some benefits that your child will gain from learning a second language:

Improve cognitive development

Learning another language helps develop essential areas of your child’s brain.

Memory and concentration skills

Learning another language can strengthen your child’s memory for sequences and their ability to concentrate and build connections. The parts of the brain used for memory, reasoning, and planning are much larger for bilinguals compared to monolinguals.2 Studies have also shown that being bilingual can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Develop multi-tasking capabilities

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that children who grow up speaking two languages are better at switching between tasks than monolingual children. This shows their ability to multi-task. Bilinguals have 2 sets of language rules in their minds and their brain is trained to switch back and forth depending on the situation.3

Bilingual speakers develop mental flexibility

When switching between languages all the time, it strengthens your child’s mental muscles and enhances their executive function, i.e. it improves their working memory, allows for flexible thinking, and develops their self-control. Bilinguals are able to control the parallel activity of both languages and select the intended language subconsciously.

Introducing sign language in your child’s early age can also be extremely beneficial to their cognitive and physical development. It encourages communication for children who are not yet speaking and can increase memory retention and motion processing. It can also increase mental flexibility. The intricate linguistic elements to sign language can also help develop your child’s gross motor function. You can read more about introducing Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to your young child here.

Improve academic performance

With enhanced executive function, your child will be able to concentrate and do better at school!

Enhance English literacy skills

Learning another language is more than just memorising a list of words. It forces your child to be conscious of the rules of English. Children generally acquire their first language intuitively without any formal training, on the other hand, they might learn a second language in a formal classroom setting. As a result, your child will learn to compare and contrast the two systems — different language elements such as vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, etc. Your child will have an insight into how English works, which accelerates their reading and writing skills. Learning a new language also makes them a better listener as they are used to having to interpret meanings and nuances.4

Great academic results

With higher cognitive skills, studies have shown that multilingual students do better on standardised exams in maths, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Language learning boosts your child’s ability to problem-solve, a skill that is essential across the board.4

Develop understanding and respect for other cultures

Language is part of culture. Learning another language will spark your child’s curiosity for other cultures!2 Opening up to another culture will allow your child to be more flexible, respectful, and appreciative of other people’s opinions and lifestyle. They will have the advantage of seeing the world through different perspectives and will enhance their ability to communicate in a connected. Your child will grow up to be a compassionate, empathetic, and respectful person.4 You can read more about teaching your child the importance of diversity and inclusiveness here.

 

How to teach your child another language at home5

Using child-centred education will help your child learn and acquire the new language quicker!

If you’re a parent in a bilingual or multilingual household:

  1. Teach through repetition

Young children learn through repetition and active engagement with the other language. You can do an activity in English, then do the same activity in the other language. It’s best to use a child-centred approach here! When your child is engaged in an activity they enjoy, make use of this opportunity to turn it into an educational moment. For example, if you’re doing arts and craft, you can go through the process in English, then do it again in the target language. It helps to speak the second language consistently at home, so they are exposed to the language and its system. Talk about your daily routines and activities in the second language as you do them!

  1. Use big gestures and physical demonstrations

Pairing nonverbal communication with verbal vocabulary cues can help your child comprehend language. Children can associate your physical expression with vocabulary. It makes it easier for them to understand and remember those terms!

  1. Create a positive learning environment

Second-language learners do better when they are supported and encouraged to engage in social interactions. Asking open-ended questions in the second language will prompt them to use and practice speaking the language. It is important to note that your child might mix up words and word orders when they are just starting, but children learn and adapt quickly so they’ll figure it out in no time! Just keep encouraging them to use the second language and they’ll master it eventually!

 

If you’re a parent in a monolingual home:

  1. Have your child spend time with a native speaker

Studies have shown that immersive language learning is the most effective way to master a second language. Children are able to pay attention to social cues from a live person that can help them comprehend and better understand what is being said. If you have a bilingual family, friend, neighbour, or caretaker, let them spend some time with your child speaking only in their native language. You can set up playdates or excursions with them where they only speak in your child’s target language, creating an immersive experience.

  1. Find media in the target language

Using audio or media formats can be less-effective compared to in-person interactions but any amount of exposure to the target language is always helpful. Let them watch age-appropriate shows in the target language, find music that both you and your child will love in the target language, and when they’re old enough to read fill your home with written words in the target language.

  1. Use child-friendly language-learning sites

There are websites and apps created for young children to learn a second language. They provide popular children stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or Three Little Pigs in a different language. Here is a list of some of the best apps that can help your child in their language learning journey through their preschool and schooling years.

  1. Learn the language together

If you are interested in learning a second language, you can make this a team effort! It’ll also be a good bonding experience as you learn something new with your child. You can learn a second language through an online language learning platform and teach your child what you learn! It’ll be good practice for you as you get to practice what you have learnt while teaching your child! Duolingo and Rosetta Stone can be a good place to start. Here is a list of resources you can use to start learning Auslan!

Growing up to be a well-rounded individual

Learning a second language from a young age can not only help to put your child in a better position for their future, but also helps them to understand and see the world in different perspectives. Child-centred education helps not only with language learning but also helps in developing a better understanding of why it is important to appreciate other cultures. With higher cognitive skills, they learn to become a respectful and empathetic individual and are more likely to be successful in school! Being exposed to different languages and cultures can have a significant positive impact on your child’s life.

How do we cultivate language learning at Piptree?

As we know, Australia is a ‘melting pot’ of different cultures and ethnicities. This is part of what makes us special! Our Piptree centres are all located in areas that embrace diversity and multiculturalism, and as such we encourage our children to be curious about the different languages that they may hear their friends or educators using. For example, at Piptree Eight Mile Plains we love having such a diverse mix of families and educators! Our team of educators enjoy sharing aspects of their cultures’ with the children. Head over to our Facebook page to see one of our amazing educators reading the story of The 3 Little Pigs in her native Cantonese!

 

 

 

References

  1. Lang, S. Learning a Second Language is Good Childhood Mind Medicine, study finds. (Link)
  2. Victoria State Government. How languages can boost your child’s brain power. (Link)
  3. National Institutes of Health. Bilinguals Switch Tasks Faster than Monolinguals, NIH funded study shows. (Link)
  4. Eton Institute. Top 10 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language. (Link)
  5. Korngold, Y. How to Incorporate a Foreign Language into Your Preschooler’s Life. (Link)

 

Encouraging Resilience and Perseverance in your Child

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Resilience and perseverance are essential traits for children to develop. They are life skills that children take into adulthood and can affect how they grow up.

Building resilience and perseverance in your child is important for their mental health as well as their physical health. It helps them to overcome obstacles more easily and reduces the chances of developing anxiety or other stress-related diseases.

Here are some tips you can use to help your child build resilience and perseverance:

  1. Building supportive relationships

The reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship can help lead your child through adversity. Your child will learn to develop vital coping skills and your presence can also help to reduce any changes that are activated by stress. This can prevent any damaging physiological effects on their developing brain, body, and immune system.3 Children learn better when they are loved, accepted, and understood.

  1. Encourage and support self-regulation

Self-regulation refers to how we regulate our behaviours and emotions. It is extremely beneficial in the long run for your child to learn how to manage their behaviours from a young age. It is important to talk to your child about their behaviours to help develop their understanding — what is the impact of their behaviour on others, what are the benefits? It will also help them to regulate any stress-induced anger or frustration they might feel in challenging situations.4

  1. Encourage regular mindfulness practice

Mindfulness creates structural and functional changes to the brain that can help regulate stress. It has a great positive impact on children’s, and adults’, cognitive development. There are numerous life skills that your child can develop when practising mindfulness and these skills can help build perseverance and resilience. You can read more about mindfulness and find exercises here.

  1. Read to them, or let them read good books

Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. They can infer and learn from the stories they read. Here are a few books that share stories about problem-solving, self-regulation, and perseverance1:

  1. Engage in risky play

Risky play is thrilling and a perfect challenge for children to test their limits and build perseverance. It can also help your child develop risk management as they figure out boundaries and develop perseverance.1 Take your child to the playground, bring them hiking, let them play in nature. It is important that you don’t let your fear get in the way. Let your child take risks and learn from them. Experts suggest practicing the 17-second rule — i.e., instead of telling your child not to run too fast or climb too high, take a moment (or 17-seconds). Step back and observe how your child is responding to the situation so you can have a better sense of what they are capable of.5

  1. Set an example

Like many other life skills, modelling resilience and perseverance is beneficial for your child. They are more than likely to learn from watching you persevere through a problem you are facing. If it’s an appropriate discussion, share with them what you’re going through and what you’re doing to get through the problem. Studies have shown that showing persistence and perseverance yourself can affect how much your child perseveres through their tasks.1

Child-led learning is effective in developing resilience and perseverance

Resilience and perseverance are skills that can’t only be taught verbally. Your child will have to go through challenges and sometimes tough situations in order to develop these skills. By being in challenging situations, they will not only develop perseverance and resilience but also learn to problem-solve and manage risk.

If you enjoyed this week’s blog, and would like to find out more about encouraging resilience and perseverance in your child, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full post!

References

  1. Arnerich, M. How to Build Resilience and Perseverance in Young Children. (Link)
  2. Bobbermen, J. Why building resilience in children is important. (Link)
  3. Young, K. Building Resilience in Children — 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies. (Link)
  4. Cowley, S. How to Build Better Behaviours in the Early Years. (Link)
  5. Toole, B. Risky Play for Children: Why We Should Let Kids Go Outside and then Get Out of The Way. (Link)

Teaching your Child the Importance of Diversity and Inclusiveness

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In a world of globalisation, we are living in an increasingly diverse society. Your child will interact with people of different races, cultures, and abilities. They will have friends from child care or school who come from different family structures.

Children notice these differences from a very young age but they haven’t been exposed to real-world prejudices and stereotypes yet to put a label on those differences. Teaching your child about diversity and inclusiveness from a young age will shape how they view the world and how they interact with others as they get older. Here’s when children start noticing differences: 1

2 to 3-year-olds:

Your child will start noticing differences in skin colour and appearance, including the names of those features. However, they don’t assign meanings to those names and labels.

4 to 6-year-olds:

Your child will learn to identify their own race or ethnicity. They might have a positive or negative label on that identity.

7-year-olds and above:

Your child’s understanding of their own identity will only deepen. They might start forming opinions about people of other race, abilities, etc. as well.

It is important to teach them to acknowledge these differences and that they are not wrong, just different. We all want to raise accepting, tolerant, and empathetic children. Learning about diversity and inclusion starts at home. Here are some ways you can encourage and teach your child:

  1. Allow them to consume media that celebrates diversity and inclusion 2

The media shapes a lot of our understanding and perception of the world. Think about how in recent years, many people have been campaigning for more diversity in TV shows and movies because of the importance of representation. As children are exposed to more screen time now, the type of content they consume can affect how they view people of other races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, etc.. It is important, therefore, to ensure that they are exposed to a wide range of media that celebrates diversity and inclusion.

There are children’s books for various ages that teach inclusion. Here is a list of kid-friendly TV shows and movies that educate them about diversity. Many children are also consuming YouTube videos and TEDEducation is a good channel that has speakers of various backgrounds sharing their experiences.

  1. Encourage positive discussions about differences2

It is important to have honest, age-appropriate talks with your child about the differences they recognise in others. It is counter-productive when adults pretend these differences don’t exist. When children grow up and are exposed to more of the world, they see how these differences exist in real life. This can have social implications on how they see themselves and how they perceive other people. By acknowledging these differences and having conversations about them at a young age, your child will grow up to be more understanding and compassionate. They will also learn how to appreciate these differences.

If your child points out how another child at their child care or school have a different skin colour, for example, you will want to acknowledge that and say, “Yes, people do have skin colours, they may look different to you, but that’s the beauty of the world we live in.” If you notice your child staring or asking questions about someone with disabilities, say they are in a wheelchair, you can say, “I see you looking at the little girl in the wheelchair, and you might be wondering why she needs one. Some people’s muscles work differently, and her wheelchair helps her to move around, just like your legs help you.” Keep your explanations positive, like how their aids (hearing aids, wheelchair, etc.) help them, instead of saying that they can’t hear or walk.3

  1. Prepare them about what they will read on the Internet or hear from others2

If your child is older and they are in school or they have access to browse the Internet, they can come across incorrect facts, toxic comments, and cyberbullies. It can be hard for you to monitor everything they do on the Internet and impossible to control what their friends are saying to them, especially if they are older children. It is, therefore, important that you prepare your child for what they might come across online or in real life.

When dealing with Internet content, you might want to discuss how some people use platforms on the Internet to spread extreme views. You might also want to talk about how negative and incorrect stereotypes can grow online and spread hate, and what harm those stereotypes can do. This is a good time to teach them how to be critical when reading articles or stories online — train them to ask questions about whether content is written intentionally to be inflammatory, is it only written from one person’s perspective, etc.. Teach them to stand up against any negative stereotypes that their friends might bring up at school. Teach them to try to educate people about such issues and know when to pick their fights as some might not be willing to learn.

  1. Be a role model4

Like all other important life-skills moments, ensure that you set a good example for your child to follow. As adults, we know how difficult it can be to unlearn many prejudices and stereotypes that we were taught as children. By setting a good example for your child, they can start learning from your actions and words from young. Seeing you respond positively to diversity in a supportive and empathetic way can teach your child to have a positive attitude and to respect people regardless of their differences. There might be times when you slip-up but don’t fret because you can use that as a teaching opportunity.

Growing up to become a respectful person

It is crucial that we teach our children to acknowledge differences and that being different doesn’t make anyone “lesser” than others. By teaching your child about diversity and inclusion, they will grow up to be a more compassionate, empathetic, and respectful person.

 

References

  1. Foundations Counselling, Teaching Your Kids About Diversity and Inclusion. (Link)
  2. Kloss, K. The Parent’s Guide to Teaching Kids About Cultural Diversity and Inclusion. (Link)
  3. Hutton, L. 6 Tips to Talk to Your Kids About Disabilities. (Link)
  4. Brookes Publishing. 8 Ways to Show Young Children that Diversity is A Strength. (Link)

The Benefits of Virtual Reality in Early Childhood Education

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Physical play is an important and effective way for young children to learn. Similarly, when used correctly, technology is just as important to a young child’s development. There are huge investments into technology that can provide essential and important skill-building virtual reality and augmented reality games for children. Studies have shown that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the ability to alter behaviour, thoughts, patterns, and attitudes.1

The benefits of virtual reality in early childhood education include:2

Fun learning

Children generally have shorter attention span. Many young children today are exposed to technology and digital screens at an early age. You’ll probably find that it is easier to catch their attention when there are moving pictures/objects. VR allows for immediate engagement which means fewer distractions. You can change the visual settings of the game to cater to each student’s visual engagement. The scenery is usually vivid and attractive, and that will engage your child and pique their attention.

Enhance motivation

As your child is engaged in the game, it will motivate them to want to play. Many VR games require full participation. If your child doesn’t move, the avatar doesn’t move — nothing happens in the game. Children learn best when they figure out concepts at their level, and they can do so through the VR/AR games. The use of VR technology can enhance traditional teaching methodologies as children are able to apply what they have learnt in the “real world”.3

Increase academic performance and understanding

A study done on the effectiveness of augmented reality apps in teaching the alphabets to kindergarten children revealed that students who were taught with AR had significantly better results than students who were taught using traditional teaching methods — a mean score of 27.57 in the experimental group and 15.43 in the control group.4

Develop positive attitudes and behaviour and Enhance social skills

In classrooms, the nature of AR and/or VR encourages children to work together, building their cooperation skills while improving their communication skills. The use of technology gives your child a sense of control over their learning, whether it is at home or at school. Self-directed learning can increase their level of concentration and information retention. It can also motivate your child to want to learn more and engages all children regardless of learning abilities.6

Using AR/VR to enhance teaching and learning

Technology will never replace traditional teaching methods and teachers as the main mode of educational and developmental learning. Physical play and human-led teaching are still critically important in helping young children develop, learn life-skills, and academic learning. However, technology can be used alongside these traditional methodologies in order to enhance young children’s learning capabilities.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of VR and AR, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full article!

 

References

  1. Ariel, Y. VR is a Powerful Tech Enhancing Early Childhood Development Must. (Link)
  2. Masmuzidin, M.Z., Aziz, N.A.A.. “The Current Trends of Augmented Reality in Early Childhood Education.” The International Journal of Multimedia and Its Applications, vol. 10, no. 6, 2018, pp. 47-58. (Link)
  3. Wenke, J. The Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Early Childhood Education. (Link)
  4. Safar, A.H., Al-Jafar, A. A., Al-Youdefi, Z.H.. “The Effectiveness of Using Augmented Reality Apps in Teaching the English Alphabet to Kindergarten Children: A Case Study in the State of Kuwait.” EURASIA Journal of Mathematics Science and Technology Education, vol. 13, no. 2, 2016, pp. 417-440. (Link)
  5. AR VR Tech. Top 5 Benefits of Virtual Reality in Education. (Link)
  6. Youdale, K. Augmented Reality in Kindergarten? (Link)

Tips on Maintaining Positivity in your Household

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Even though coronavirus lock-down restrictions are being eased, we know that being holed up at home for a long time can be mentally and emotionally draining for a lot of people, especially children. The fear, uncertainty, and unexpected change can cause great stress on your child causing them to feel anxious or restless. This is completely normal given the current circumstances, however it can result in an anxious household. But don’t fret, here are some tips that can help you to build and maintain positivity in your household!

1. Talk to your child

Communication is important. You child needs to know that they can go to you to talk about anything. Listen to what they are saying and acknowledge their feelings.1 When they are upset, recognise that they are feeling like that right now but guide them into thinking of things they can do to resolve what they are upset about. Children learn best when they think of their own examples as they learn to problem-solve. For example, if they’re upset that they can’t go out to play with their friends, you can calmly say, “I can see that you’re upset you can’t go out to play with your friends right now. How do you think you can stay in touch with them?”2

Don’t forget to ask questions about what they are talking about to show that you are listening to them. Always try your best to explain your decisions or answers to their questions. When they understand the ‘why’ and/or the ‘what’, it can alleviate their fears and anxieties, making them less likely to lash out. This can also build their communication skills and they learn that they can go to you whenever they have problems in the future.

Here are some more tips on how to talk to your child about serious topics.

2. Keep healthy routines2

In a time of uncertainty, it is especially important to keep to a routine. Having a structure to the days offers reassurance to your child. The routine should be predictable but flexible enough for individual needs. If possible, keep to their usual routine — same wake-up and bed-time, follow their usual school timetable, etc.

3. Encourage cooperation to avoid sibling rivalry3

Sibling rivalry is normal, and you can’t avoid it completely. However, you can reduce its frequency. Every child has their own individual needs that you should focus on. Younger children might not understand why you’re spending more time with the baby or toddler and might feel as if they’re not getting any attention. This can be worse now when everyone is stuck at home. Explain to them why the baby needs your attention most of the time. Let them know that because they are older, they have different responsibilities and are more independent. Reassure them that you will still help and be there for them. Set aside some one-on-one time with your older child. Even a 10-minute uninterrupted ‘catch up’ with all your attention can make a huge difference to a child.

Encourage cooperation and don’t set up your children to compete all the time. Organise fun family activities that they can work on together. Plan some arts and crafts time, nature play that can be done in your backyard, practice physical mindfulness exercises with your children, or pretend play!

Ensure that your child has their own space and time to be on their own. If they fought with their siblings, some alone time can help them both calm down and play on their own. When they’re calm, talk to them and listen to their complaints of each other. Reinforce the positive things that they see in each other. When children feel like they are being listened to, they are less likely to fight for your attention. You can also learn more about their sibling rivalry and take steps to reduce the frequency of it happening again.

4. Let your child be the boss (sometimes)4

Toddlers tend to push the boundaries as they grow and develop. This is a good sign of their development and their growth in independence. They are generally toying with what they can or can’t get away with, which is a good time for them to learn what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours — i.e. they are experimenting and learning.

Give your child the choice when it is safe to do so. Give them two acceptable choices to choose from. For example, when you’re at the park, let them choose between carrying their toys or ball on the way home. That way, the only option is to leave the park, but they get to choose how they do so. This will make them feel respected and heard and might make them less resistant in other situations.

Focus on using positive behaviour and tone. Children will generally tend to defy you if you shout at them. “Don’t bang the door!” can translate to “Bang the door!” in your child’s mind. Kindly tell them what you want them to do. If they’re resting their leg on the table, you can say, “Please put your feet down. Can you wiggle your toes under the table?”. Give them another option or explain why it is wrong.

If that doesn’t work, learn to pick your battles. Letting little things go can reduce stress for both you and your child. It will also make them more inclined to listen to you when things matter more. At the end of the day, remember that your child is only pushing their boundaries because they feel safe and secure enough to experiment and learn what is right and wrong.

5. Lead by example5

Young children copy and learn from how you behave. Take some time for yourself to relax and reduce your stress level. When you find your anger or stress levels rising, find a good and healthy method to calm down. It might not be possible to be positive and happy all the time but having positive and healthy ways to calm down and react to situations can have a good effect not only on yourself but also on the other party. Your child will most likely mimic that behaviour and it is important that the behaviour is positively reinforced.

 

Take this opportunity to bond with your child

Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. We make mistakes and emotions tend to get the better of us. But learning how to overcome those negative thoughts and feelings is a big step to building and maintaining positivity in you and your child and as a result, building and maintaining positivity in your household.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and your child in these hard times. Not going to school and being cooped up at home are very big changes but these tips can, hopefully, help your household readjust. When life goes back to normal, these tips can still be used to keep up the positivity built during your time stuck at home together!

 

 

References

  1. Center for Mental Wellness. Building a Positive Family Environment — 5 Practical Steps. (Link)
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Parenting in a Pandemic: Tips to Keep the Calm at Home. (Link)
  3. Marcoux, H. 6 Expert Ways to Stop Sibling Rivalry. (Link)
  4. Benjamin, J. When Your Toddler Starts Testing His Limits. (Link)
  5. Molina, K. 10 Ways to Help Your Children Develop a Positive Attitude. (Link)

 

Inspiring a love of reading in your child

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There has been a substantial decline in the number of children who enjoy reading through the years. Many children see reading as a chore, instead of something that can be done for recreation. By encouraging good reading habits from young, it can inspire a love for reading in your child.

Reading has many benefits to your child’s development:

  1. Reading can help your child get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literary skills1

Children can learn new words as they read or are being read to. They absorb information on sentence structures and how to use different language features in writing and speaking2.

  1. Reading can fuel your child’s imagination and stimulate their curiosity1

As we read, we translate the descriptions written in the text in our heads. The more engaged we are in the story, the more we feel what the characters are feeling. Your child will most likely bring that into their everyday play2.

  1. Reading will help your child’s brain, social skills, and communication skills develop

Reading strengthens brain connections and builds new connections. It is a complex activity that works our brain more than watching TV. It also helps your child develop empathy as they begin to imagine how they would feel in that character’s shoes.

  1. Reading can help your child achieve better results in school

Children who read tend to have good concentration skills as they have to sit still and quietly so they can properly focus on what they are reading. This skill will further improve as they continue to read. Many children who read tend to do better across the curriculum.

  1. Reading is a great way to spend time together

The time you spend reading with your child promotes bonding and helps to build your relationship.

Here are 5 tips you could use to help your child fall in love with reading:

1. Read to your child3

Establish a reading routine early on in your child’s life and continue even after they are capable of reading independently. Reading to your child before they learn how to speak can facilitate their language development — the more words they are exposed to as an infant, the larger their vocabulary will be by age 3.

2. Model good reading habits

Young children take their cues from adults. You might find that your child would mimic your actions or the way you speak. You might also find yourself trying to get your child to repeat after you when they’re learning how to speak. The same principle applies to helping your child fall in love with reading.

3. Start a family book club

With older school-age children, schedule time where the whole family reads together. If they have older siblings, encourage them to sit down and read to their younger siblings. This can strengthen their bond and build trust as they sit and interact in a stress-free environment.

4. Listen to audiobooks

Instead of having the radio on, maybe consider having audiobooks playing while your child is in the car. Hearing someone read aloud confidently is a good way to expose your child to fluency and improves their critical listening skills. It is a good way to introduce books that are above your child’s reading level and new genres that they might not have been exposed to6.

5. Give them something to read!

The best way to help your child fall in love with reading is to give them something they actually want to read. You can start small by giving them short magazine articles, blog posts, graphic novels or a short story. The medium does not matter as long as they are reading.

Here are some books you can introduce to your child:

  1. Book adaptations

Many children’s television series have book adaptations that can help your child get into reading. Peppa Pig has a series of picture books and activity books that can engage your pre-schooler and get them started on reading. Disney also has book collections based off of their movies. If your child loves Frozen, the Disney Before the Story series that follows Elsa and Anna’s story could be of interest to them!

  1. Feeding your child’s curiosity

Pre-schoolers have a lot of questions about how the world works. You can help them learn the alphabet while connecting them to the world to help them better understand the little things they experience daily. Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic series that engages your child with the bright colours and artwork.

  1. Books that cater to your child’s interests and hobbies

Any child interested in forensic science should read National Geographic Kids’ Solve This! Forensics as it includes G-rated activities for them to solve mystery cases. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s Write! Write! Write! is a series of poems about writing that will encourage any young budding writers to pick up a pen and start writing their own stories! Katherine Holabird’s Angelina Ballerina series will inspire young dancers to keep dancing.

  1. Non-fiction books

Non-fiction books can inspire your child while teaching them life lessons. Malala Yousafzai’s Malala’s Magic Pencil tells the story of how a young girl can change the world for the better. Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted tells the stories of 13 American women — Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, etc. — who changed the world, proving that children can do anything if they set their minds to it. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a good read for school-age children that helps them think more critically about injustice and hate and to learn compassion for others.

  1. Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi

Young adult novels for teenagers are usually books that get teens into reading again. The Harry Potter series is a good starting point for children of any age who want to escape into a world of magic.

Dystopian novels for teens often engage teenagers and young adults to start reading again. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is a powerful series that touches on government corruption and the effects of that on the people.  

Make reading fun!

The most important part about helping your child fall in love with reading is to make it fun. Don’t force them into reading as they will think of the activity as a chore. Let them lead in the process. Help them explore different genres and figure out what type of stories they enjoy reading and build their collection from there!

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about the benefits of reading, head over to the full blog post on Piptree Kids!

 

References

  1. Raising Children Network. Reading and Storytelling with babies and children. (Link)
  2. Cam Everlands Primary School. 10 benefits of reading. (Link)
  3. Chen, G. 5 ways parents can inspire children to love reading. (Link)
  4. Reach Out & Read. Child Development. (Link)
  5. Ruddy, E.Z. 18 Genius Ways to Make Kids Love Reading. (Link)
  6. Johnson, D. Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers. (Link)

 

 

 

 

How to talk to your child about serious issues

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In today’s world children can more often than not, be exposed to current local and global tragedies and dangers, no matter how much parents try to shield them. It can be hard for them to process these serious issues and their imagination can run wild.

Discussing these issues with your child may not be easy but by discussing them in age-appropriate language, it will help your child feel more secure and safe. This is particularly important as we go through the current coronavirus global pandemic. Younger children might not understand why they can’t go to school or childcare, or why they can’t see grandma and grandpa.

Here are some tips you can use to talk to your child about the pandemic, or other serious issues:

1. Provide just enough information about the issue1

Pre-schoolers

Most young children don’t have enough life experience to understand complex and abstract issues. News reporting can use words and phrases that can scare your child. Try as much as possible to limit your child’s exposure to the news to avoid causing too much anxiety and choosing media that is targeted to younger children.

Use age-appropriate language and examples to explain the issue2. For example, if they are asking about how people catch coronavirus, explain that when someone sneezes or coughs, they can spread germs through the air. Explain to them that the germs can also get on their hands and therefore, it is important to wash their hands and avoid touching their face. Here are some exercises you can do with your child to help them understand why they need to practice good personal hygiene:

 School-age children

At this stage, most children can read and write independently and are exposed to more complex news in the media. Wait for them to come to you if something is worrying them. When you encourage open dialogue and discussion in your house, they’re more likely to come to you when there is a difficult issue bothering them.

With teenagers, they’re often exposed to news on social media or television. As we know, there is a lot of false information out there on the Internet! Engage in discussions with them about the news and make sure your child knows you are listening. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers2. You can work together with them to fact-check information and calm their worries at the same time. With a lot of misinformation on COVID-19 circulating on the Internet here are some reliable sources of information:

  1. World Health Organisation Myth busters
  2. Australian Government Department of Health
  3. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

2. Acknowledge their feelings

Pre-schoolers:

Address their emotions when talking about serious subjects. Let your child know that it is normal to feel scared, sad, or confused about the situation. Share your feelings with them as well and reassure them that you will be there for them, and that the family is safe3.

Children are very observant and sensitive to how things affect the members of their primary relationships — parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. It is important that you are calm and reassuring when talking about the issue.

Do look out for reassurance seeking in young children — i.e. your child could be repeatedly asking the same or similar questions; try to determine whether their anxiety seems to be increasing despite the fact that you’ve been answering their questions. Health Direct has a list of resources catered to young children, or you can contact your family doctor or psychologist for more resources or help.

School-age children:

Similar to pre-schoolers, always acknowledge your child’s feelings and emotions. Teenagers might be less likely to open up about what they’re feeling but as a parent it’s still a good idea to check in with them from time to time. With COVID-19, restriction measures by the government will disrupt their daily routine — schools are now online, they’re not allowed to hang out with their friends; social activities like sports and dance classes are cancelled and can have an impact on their mental health. Direct them to online mental health resources if they feel more comfortable talking to a professional:

  1. Australian Government Department of Health – Head to Health
  2. Headspace
  3. Beyond Blue
  4. More resources can be found at Health Direct

3. Take care of yourself3

If your child is bothered by a serious issue that is covered constantly in the news, it is likely that you’re just as, if not more exposed to the story. With the current global pandemic, adults are likely dealing with higher than normal pressure and having to juggle between working from home and taking care of your children.

Take a break from the news and turn off the TV. Do some physical exercise, or just spend time with your family playing games or watching movies. Taking a much-needed break from the constant news cycle can be beneficial to both you and your child to calm down and relieve the stress and anxiety. This can make discussions about difficult topics a lot more productive and effective, rather than being too caught up in negative emotions.

Don’t avoid difficult topics!

Opening up about serious topics will not only reassure and reduce anxiety in your child but will also strengthen the bond between you. It lets them know that you’re willing to listen and help them, and it makes them feel safe and secure. The next time they have problems, they know that they can come to you for help without feeling judged.

References

  1. Sperling, J. How to talk to children about the coronavirus. (Link)
  2. Knorr, C. How to Talk to Kids About Difficult Subjects. (Link)
  3. American Psychological Association. How to talk to children about difficult news. (Link)

 

What can parents do to help children learn from home?

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As more schools move to online classes, you might now find yourself juggling between home-schooling your child while working from home.  This can be daunting especially if you have never done this before. This is new to many parents who are now stuck between work, caring for children, and ensuring that they are still learning effectively.

We have put together a few tips and tricks that you might find helpful to home-school your child:

1. Set up a learning space

A learning space for young children is a place where they can play safely. Unstructured, free play is the best way for young children to learn. If you have a backyard, let your child play and explore the natural environment. Nature play can reap many benefits such as problem-solving, risk assessment, and improved mental and physical health. Let their imagination run wild to fuel their creativity. You can be a part of your child’s unstructured play too, if you choose to, and if they want you to join!

Young children can also benefit from unstructured indoor play with toys. Toys such as building blocks and threading strings can not only fuel your child’s creativity but also improve their fine motor skills.

2. Create and keep to a routine

Children need structure and familiarity. Creating and keeping to a routine can help your child be more productive. Having a routine for young children can have long-term benefits — including increased skills and responsibilitiesbuilding healthy habits, and cultivating a sense of safety and belonging. Keep to the normal daily routine you might already have in place. If your child used to attend child-care, try as much as possible to follow the schedule typically set for your child. It will create a safe, normal, and healthy environment for your child to continue to learn through play.

3. Facilitate and support child-led learning

Child-led play is good because children learn best when they’re interested in an activity. When you follow your child’s lead, you can facilitate their learning by taking advantage of the things that interest them to help them learn something new or build on a skill. You can start by noticing what your child is doing or playing, and ask if you could join in. If they stop playing with their current toy and move on to another, move to the other toy with them.

4. Let your child get bored

If you’re working from home and can’t entertain your child 24/7, you might find that they can get a little bored. Instead of dropping your work to play with them, let your child work through it themselves. When your child can push through the boredom, it fuels their creativity and imaginative capacity and builds their problem-solving skills. They will learn the necessary skills needed to deal with slightly stressful situations while building on their independence and resilience.

Learning should be fun!

By encouraging your child to self-regulate their learning, you are allowing them to take ownership of their studies and gain independence. It is still important for you to ensure that they are progressing in their learning and hold them accountable.

But don’t forget that learning should be fun! You can encourage your child to draw, bake, paint, or go out to the garden. Take this opportunity to spend some time with your child — whether it is talking about school or playtime in the garden!

If you found these ideas helpful, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full blog post with more tips and tricks to help your older children learn from home 🙂