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ABC Blog!

At ABC Kiddie Kampus, we realize raising a family isn’t easy in today’s fast pace environment. As parents and educators, we’re sometimes forced to make decisions on the fly with the hope that those decisions put our children in the best possible position to succeed in and out of the classroom.

Our blog is meant to act as a resource for today’s families. Our team, accompanied by guest bloggers, will provide advice, information, and personal experiences on their journey through parenthood and educating our youth.

Building Literacy through Reading

Reading books aloud is the most essential way to build literacy and language skill while simultaneous offering a great bonding experience between adults and children. way of It is important that children experience positive interactions with print and stories early on in their development, this will lead to love and appreciation for books and reading later in life.

Reading aloud to children is the single most significant way to build children’s language skills. Reading aloud to children stimulates their language development before they can even talk. They receive exposure to sentence structure, vocabulary and the way oral language is spoken. In addition to the language development, reading aloud to children provides a nurturing one on one experience that helps them form a positive association with books and reading later in life. Research shows that a strong literacy foundation is essential to later success in school. Although reading aloud to children is one of the most beneficial ways to build those literacy skills, the U.S Department of Education provides some great ways to build literacy skills in different ways.

  • Point to objects and use proper names and vocabulary
  • Read aloud every day starting at 6 months of age
  • Use signs, sounds, gestures and words at home and other places
  • Create a quite special place for reading, writing and drawing
  • Take children’s books and writing materials whenever you leave the house
  • Reach out and use community resources such as libraries

It is important for parents and educators to understand that while reading aloud is vital there are many different ways to help children grow and develop their literacy skills.

Dramatic Play and Its Importance on Development

Dramatic play is an essential part of early childhood education. It is a space where children can express themselves, act out situations that are familiar to them and allow their imaginations to take over. Early Childhood Education News provides great insight to the important aspects of dramatic play that are essential to child development.

By definition dramatic play is a type of play where children assign roles to one another and then act them out. They take turns assuming their role and often times becoming something that they are not. Research shows that this form of play is essential in developing a child’s critical thinking skills. Dramatic play encompasses all different areas of development. Below are some fundamental skills that children develop through dramatic play.

Role Playing, children are mimicking the behaviors, tone and expressions of those that are familiar to them.

Materials and props, rich and purposeful materials allow children to extend their play and make the scenarios more in depth.

Pretending/Make Believe, there are many different parts of pretend or make believe. First, the dramatic play may begin with situations that are fantasy and as they develop the play becomes mimicking familiar situations that they are exploring on their own.

Length of Time, at the start this from of play may only last a few minutes but as time goes on, a child’s development expands. This development will include more advanced actions and vocabulary, lengthening the playtime.

Social Skills, dramatic play encourages social interactions with children, their peers and adults. Children move from engaging in play without any interaction and moving towards playing together while acting out the same scenario with multiple children.

Communication, dramatic play promotes a level of communication that is vital to child development. Children begin to repeat words they have heard before and engage with others, which in turn teaches them new words to enhance their vocabulary.

Tips for a Picky Eater

As important as meal time is, it can also be a frustrating one for parents. You put tons of thought and time into meal planning and preparation with the result sometimes ending with a full-plate, an unhappy child, and frustration on your end.

For childcare providers, children are not as happy when they are hungry and sometimes there are not any alternatives for the meal that is being provided.  Penn State Extension provides some great tips for encouraging picky eaters to try new foods, and ways for both parents and child care providers to remain positive and persistent when trying to help a picky eater. Here are some of those tips:

Keep trying, if at first you don’t succeed try again. Many times children need to be introduced to food up to 10 or 15 times before they begin to like it.

Be a role model, parents and child providers must be willing to try the new foods that the children are being introduced too. Imitation is a wonderful thing, and often time’s children will want to mimic what you are doing; even if this means trying a food they did not previously like.

Unfamiliar with familiar, make sure to serve the unfamiliar foods with something that they like. This is likely to increase the likelihood that the children will try the new food. However, children should still be expected to eat the food the rest of the family or class is eating.

Read stories about food, if the food is introduced to the children through a story prior to eating it, they may be more inclined to try it.

Let children help select the menu, If the children are able to help select, or even make the foods that are being served they are less likely to reject them.

You can lead them to a new food, but you can’t make them eat it, never force children to try a new food. Just take it away and present it at a different time.

Relax and have fun! Focus all of the attention on the positive eating habits that the children do have and not on the food.

In addition to offering nutritional improvements, meal time also offers children educational and socialization benefits. Educationally, teachers and parents use this time to talk about the pros of healthy eating and the effects it has on our bodies. Socially, it offers children a chance to speak with their peers, teachers, and parents.

Process Focused Art Work

Developmentally appropriate experiences are an essential part to early childhood development. Children must be exposed to aspects of play that encourage them to problem solve, investigate and be creative. Art is a great way to provide children with these experiences. When children are engaging in artistic play it is important that the process of the art is the focus instead of the product. The product of an art project can be the focus for specific projects such as a holiday or a gift. But along with product focused art there must always be process focused art. Art experiences help children develop a variety of skills such as fine motor skills, literacy skills by explaining their art work and most important social emotional skills. When children are creating free art work they are learning self soothing techniques, de-stressing and also expressing themselves.

When children are focusing on the process of their art work they are exploring the way the materials look, feel and can be used. They are able to create anything that they want with no direction or instruction on where to put things or restrictions on what materials they can use. The National Association of the Education of Young Children provides some great examples of materials that may be used to allow children to engage in process focused art work.

  • Easels with paint brushes of various shapes and sizes
  • Play dough and clay to manipulate
  • Stamping with stamps or homemade sponge stamps
  • Drawing with markers, crayons and pencils of all different colors and sizes
  • Making a collage using all different materials for free choice creations

In addition to using different materials, it is important for children to have the support and encouragement from adults who are engaging with them during free artistic play. When engaging with children during their art experiences, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Say yes to their ideas
  • Change up the material
  • Play music when doing art work
  • If you are going to display the art work, let them choose where it will go
  • Make it a joyful experience

Overall allowing children to engage in free art has many benefits to their development and can allow them to express themselves in different ways. This is a great way to spend quality time with children both as teachers or parents. It is important to understand why these experiences are so meaningful so we can purposefully expose children to developmentally appropriate activities.

Why is play so important?

Play is one of the most important parts of child development. Play teaches children how to communicate with others, learn rules, and development essential social emotion, gross and fine motor skills.  As teachers it is important to provide high quality play experiences that allow children to develop such skills.

Providing children adequate time to freely play allows them to explore and learn on their own while being guided by teachers. In an age of growing technology it is even more important to promote high quality play experiences in the classroom. With the many benefits technology provides, it doesn’t require physical activity or imagination. Using a play based curriculum ensures that children are learning naturally and at their own pace, while still building the skills needed to thrive developmentally.

The use of technology certainly has purpose in a well-rounded curriculum. For instance, inserting technology into play based curriculums such as The Creative Curriculum, helps build upon knowledge that is previously learned through play.

Additionally, play helps children build trust with others. It is important for children to play and share interactions with their teachers. This helps build trust that will be carried over into the learning in other areas.
Essential skills that are developed through play:

  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Fundamental math skills such as sorting, counting, and ordering
  • Creativity
  • Vocabulary and communication
  • Social skills
  • Learning how to make friends
  • Forming relationships and trusting others

As educators it is important to understand the value of play and to also share that importance with parents/guardians so that rich play experiences also take place at home.

Reading Wonderland

Pittston Area, Luzerne County Head Start, & ABC Kiddie Kampus present Reading Wonderland.
For Parents & Children from Birth to Grade 4 within the Pittston Area School District.

When: Saturday Dec 12, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Location:  Pittston Area High School
5 Stout Street
Yatesville, PA