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Section Seven - Helpful Activities, Handouts, and Checklists


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Many of the activities and handouts that we included in this section were developed for use in various workshops that we have conducted.  We have modified the activities so that you can do them on your own or with colleagues.

 

The Current Brain Research: 

What Does It Tell Us and What Does It Mean?

 

What does the research tell                                 So What?

By age four, the infrastructure of the brain is in place

Early childhood experiences and education are very important

The brain needs constant hydration

Continuous availability of drinking water (within the classroom and outdoors) is necessary; avoid sodas

Emotions are linked to meaning, attention, and memory

Teachers need to purposely engage the emotions through acceptance of child expression (use active listening); movement; and the use of curricula such as the Project Approach to Learning and Reggio Emilia

Prolonged exposure to stress can interfere with brain development and can cause more aggressive and impulsive behaviors in children

Non-stressful classroom environments must be provided;  avoid yelling;  set clear limits;  teach negotiation skills;  provide a joyful environment;  provide rituals as part of the schedule

Recognition and organization of patterns facilitates brain development

Encourage grouping and sorting activities; point out ways to group and sort; read to children; point out patterns in nature; compare and contrast; provide block play; teach sound patterns

Many young children are restricted in the amount of time provided for movement activities; in the U.S. today's 2-year old has spent approximately 500 hours in a car seat!  Movement is important in developing learning readiness

Plenty of opportunity for movement is needed—freedom to explore, balance activities, cross lateral movement, spinning, tumbling, jumping, ball toss, drawing, painting, counting, eye-hand coordination tasks...movement activities across the curriculum!

Television is two-dimensional and the developing brain needs experiences with real depth

Limit TV watching; many scientists would like to ban TV until children reach the age of eight!  Use dimensional objects in the classroom. Limit the amount of computer time.

TV requires the eyes to work constantly without time to relax

Eye stress can lead to learning problems

Math and music circuitry in the brain are related

Provide many music activities and types of music in the early childhood program

It becomes much more difficult for the brain to fluently learn a new language after age 10

Provide multi-language experiences in the early childhood program

There is no absolute benchmark for children to read.  Differences of three years between individual abilities within a classroom are normal.  Some will be ready to read at four years and some may not be ready until seven or eight years.

Expose but don't push children to read!

Sleep is important for growth, repair of bodily systems, and memory.

Naps, rest-times, and a good night sleep are important for children

Many school lunch programs have been designed for bone and muscle growth but not for brain growth.  Children need proteins, unsaturated fats, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, sugars, boron, selenium and potassium.

You are what you eat!  Brain foods:  leafy green vegetables, salmon, nuts, learn meats, and fresh fruits; vitamin and mineral supplements are good; yogurt and milk supply a substance for cleaning synapses.

 

What does the research tell us?                              So What?

 

The best way to grow brain is through the process of challenging problem-solving

Provide discovery learning activities, puzzles, games, open-ended questions and activities, discussions, open-ended artwork.

Novelty is beneficial to brain development

Change d�cor, materials, and instructional strategies

Specific and immediate feedback is beneficial

Multi-age classrooms can be helpful (older children help to give feedback to younger children); provide affirmations to children; self-checking games; computer programs

Challenge and feedback requirements vary from child to child

Provide choices in activities; carefully observe the children in your classroom to determine individual needs

The brain is wired to learn to write the strokes involved in cursive writing more easily than those in traditional print script

Provide cursive samples in the writing center in your classroom; encourage children to learn to use the computer for print script

Art education facilitates language development, creativity, reading readiness, social development, and develops positive attitudes toward school

Provide many artistic activities:  music, dance, singing, painting, collages, etc.  Allow for many open-ended activities where the focus is on the process rather than the product.

Music provides arousal, acts as a carrier of words, and can prime the brain for other activities

Use songs to teach concepts; provide music during rest-time

Visually stimulating things to look at facilitate brain development

Use posters, mobiles, pictures, and graphic organizers in the classroom

A strong contrasting signal is needed to shift attention

Use props, noisemakers, bells, whistles, singing and clapping for transitions between activities

Attention is improved when we are given choices; the material we are learning is relevant; and the activities we are doing engage us

Provide choices in materials, activities, and locations within the classroom to work and play.  Make activities relevant to the children's real world; be energetic and enthusiastic!

*The information contained in this hand out is taken from a variety of resources and was compiled by Ellen Marshall - Child Development - San Antonio College


 

Checklist #1              Positive Guidance Techniques

 

      Have I implemented indirect guidance techniques to eliminate most

     inappropriate behaviors? (See Checklist #2 and #3)

      Do I use songs and finger plays to guide children's behavior rather than

     direct commands?

      When setting limits, do I consider the children's ages, developmental stages,

     cultural backgrounds, and individual personalities? (See "Guidelines and

    Techniques for Setting Limits")

      When deciding if a behavior is exceeding limits, do I consider safety,

    responsibility, respect, and protection of property? (See "Guidelines and

    Techniques for Setting Limits")

      Do I ignore inappropriate behavior when possible?

      Do I use positive limit-setting techniques when limits are being exceeded?

      Do I start by allowing the child to take responsibility for his or her own

     behavior, then progress to techniques that require more responsibility for

     guiding the child's behavior?

      Do I name the child's feelings before I use a limit-setting technique?

      Do I help children go through the six stage of negotiation when they are

     having a problem with each other?  (Warning:  this is different from

     exceeding limits!)  (See "Negotiation)

 

Indirect Guidance Techniques

 

Indirect guidance techniques are all those behind-the-scenes activities in which a teacher engages to prevent behavior problems.  The three components of indirect guidance are the physical environment (room arrangement and activities), the temporal environment (how the day is scheduled), and the psychological environment (how safe and accepted each child feels).  If any of these are not planned for carefully and appropriately, it is very likely that children will exhibit behavior that you find troublesome!

 

Checklist #2  Room Arrangement, Materials, and Activities

 

      Have I considered the age of the children when planning the room

     arrangement?

      Have I grouped noisy centers together?

      Have I grouped quiet centers together?

      Have I located certain centers near each other to encourage interaction?

      Have I provided storage space for items that are not being used?

      Have I provided appropriate space for individual centers?

      When choosing equipment, furnishings, and materials, have I considered

     the ages and developmental levels of the children?

      Have I provided space for displaying materials to encourage self-direction?

      Are shelves or other storage areas cues do children can easily return

      materials after use?

      Have I provided places and spaces to display finished products, to save

     items, or to set aside tings to work on later?

      Have I provided a place near the door where children can store their

     personal belongings?

      Have I marked each child's personal storage area with his or her name and

     symbol?

      Am I using the area near the door as a way to communicate with parents?

      Do I involve children in planning the curriculum? (See "Why is Child-Centered

     Curriculum Important?")

      Do I change the materials in centers as the children's interests and skills

     change?  Do the materials and the activities in my room reflect all ages,

     races, a variety of cultures, different kinds of families, and children and

     adults with special needs?

      Do I have at least six centers that children can easily recognize?

      Have I planned outdoor activities as carefully as indoor activities?

     (See "Outdoor Memories" and "Outdoor Scavenger Hunt.")

      Have I planned ways to use the outdoor environment on rainy days?

      Do I interact with the children during outdoor time?

      Have I provided a minimum of 45 minutes of outdoor time in the morning

     and in the afternoon?

      Have I set up the outdoor environment in zones (Dramatic Play zone,

     Construction zone, Active Play zone, Nature Zone, and Quiet zone)?

 


Why is Child Centered Curriculum Important?

In 1989 Lilian Katz and  S. C. Chard wrote a book called Engaging Children's Minds:  The Project Approach.  In the beginning of their book they explain that they base their belief in the value of a child-centered curriculum on research that explores development, learning, teaching methods, and curriculum in the early years.  Here is a brief summary of that research. (A reference sheet is included so that you can read more about this research if you want to.  We recommend that you do so!)

 

Research about development.       Development is both normative and dynamic.  When we use what we know about the normative aspect of development, we make decisions about what is appropriate for most children in a certain age or stage of development.  When we use what we know about the dynamic aspect of development, we are going far beyond ages and stages.  Saying that development is dynamic means that as children learn new concepts and interact with their environment, they change the environment. Unfortunately, many early childhood teachers base most educational decisions on only information about ages and stages.  This may result in negative consequences for young learners, because the dynamic dimension of development impact children's long-term development.

 

Research on learning, teaching methods, and curriculum.    Another interesting topic that Katz and Chard discuss is learning goals.  There are four categories of learning goals: acquisition of knowledge, acquisition of skills, development of dispositions, and the development of feelings.  Unfortunately, educators have frequently emphasized the first two and neglected the development of dispositions and feelings.

Without educational planning, children are at risk for developing negative dispositions and feelings.

 

Child-Centered Curriculum In order to best meet the needs of each child programs for young children should be using a child-centered approach to curriculum rather than traditional curriculum.  Child-centered curriculum is defined by Bredekamp and Rosegrant (1992) as based on the assumption that not only does..."a curriculum change the learner but the learner also affects and changes the curriculum".    

 

The Reggio Emilia programs in Italy are perhaps the most written-about schools which use a child-centered curriculum.  Although it is frequently pointed out that the teachers and staff in Reggio Emilia do not suggest that their schools be looked at as a model to be replicated in other countries (Gandini, 1993), educators from all over the world have visited and read about their early childhood programs in order to glean from them the essential components that can be used in another country, in another culture.  Bredekamp (1993) believes that in order for the Reggio Emilia approach to work in the United States, we must "reclaim the image of the competent child".       

 

References

 

Bredekamp, S. and Rosegrant, T., Eds. Reaching potentials: Appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children. Volume 1. 1992. Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.

 

Bredekamp, S. Reflections on Reggio Emilia. Young Children, 49(1), 13-17.

Frost, Joe.  Play and playscapes. 1992.  Albany, New York: Delmar.     

 

Gandini L. Fundamentals of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.  Young Children, 49(1), 4-9.

 

Katz, L. Impressions of Reggio Emilia preschools. Young Children, 45(6), 11-12.

 

Katz, L.G. and Chard, S.C. Engaging children's minds: The project approach. Norwood, New Jersey:  Ablex.

 

Outdoor Memories

 

Playing outdoors is essential for young children.  Not only can they use their large muscles as they run, climb, ride bikes or trikes, swing, etc., but they also develop cognitive skills as they dig in sand, pour water, or lie on a blanket looking at books.  Children are actively developing social and language skills when they play outdoors, also. Try the following activity to remind yourself how valuable outdoor play was for you when you were a child. Then take your classroom on an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt!

 

Visualize yourself as a young child.  You are outdoors, doing all the things you used to love to do.  What are you doing?

 

      Playing in the mud? Sand? Water?

      Looking for and catching bugs?

      Collecting shells? Rocks? Leaves?

      Lying on the ground and looking up through the trees?

      Using sidewalk chalk to draw? Play games? Write graffiti?

      Swinging really high and feeling the wind on your face?

      Roller skating really fast?

      Playing in the waves at the beach?

      Climbing as high as you could on climbers, trees, and buildings?

Or...

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

 

Explain to the children what a Scavenger Hunt is.  Tell them that they are to look for examples of the items on the list you give them.  That list can include:

 

Contrasting items; something...

 

      Heavy and light

      Smooth and rough

      Dark and bright

      Natural and man-made

      Huge and tiny

 

Four kinds of...

 

      Holes

      Sounds

      Things that move

      Smells

 

Find places for pretending that you are...

 

      Powerful

      Small as an insect

      At home

      A detective

      An artist

      A scientist

 

Find...

 

      A new texture to explore

      An intriguing shadow

      Something the wind does

      Something alive

 

Adapted from Training Teachers: A Harvest of Theory and Practice by Margie Carter and Deb Curtis

 

Checklist #3: Scheduling

 

      Do I have a current schedule posted?

      Is the schedule represented in sequenced pictorial form so children

     can "read" it?

      Have I planned for routines like meal times, rest, and toileting?

      Do I avoid having children wait for long periods of time?

      Are active times balanced with quieter times?

      Have I planned for a quiet time before lunch?

      Are child-directed activities alternated with teacher-directed times?

      Have I scheduled transitional activities to assist children through the

     day's routines?

      Do I give warnings before transitions?

      Are large group periods of appropriate length for my age group

     (about 10 minutes for three- or four-year olds, about 15 minutes five-years

      olds, about 20 minutes for six- to eight-year olds)?

      Have I tried to arrange for most group activities to take place in small

     groups rather than in one large group/

      Do I avoid activities that require children to sit still, wait, and be quiet?

 

Sample Schedules for Various Early Childhood Programs

 

Program                          Times                    Activities

 

Half-day Program            9:00-10:00            Activity time

for younger children        10:00-10:10           Group music time

                                      10:10-10:40           Outdoor play

                                      10:40-11:00           Snack time

                                      11:00-11:10            Quiet time

                                      11:10-11:20            Movement activities

                                      11:20-11:30            Story time

 

 

Half-day Program            9:00-10:00            Activity time

For older preschoolers     10:00-10:20           Music and movement

                                        10:20-10:35                   Group time

                                                                   (calendar, weather, etc.)

                                        10:35-11:05                   Outdoor play

                                        11:05-11:15                    Snack

                                        11:15-11:30           Story, poetry        

 

Full-day Kindergarten      9:00-9:15             Opening, singing, planning

                                       9:15-10:15            Activity time

                                      10:15-10:45           Snack

                                      10:45-11:15            Outdoor play

                                      11:15-11:45            Story time, literature study

                                      11:45-12:30           Lunch, brushing teeth, clean-up

                                      12:30-1:30             Rest period

                                       1:30-1:40              Group time & planning      

                                       1:40-2:15              Activity time

                                       2:15-2:45             Special library, art or P.E., etc.

                                       2:45-3:00            Evaluations of day, dismissal

 

Primary Children              9:00-9:15             Opening, singing, planning

                                       9:15-10:30            Activity time

                                      10:30-11:00           Physical education or recess

                                      11:00-11:30            Math activities

                                      11:30-12:30           Lunch and recess

                                      12:30-1:00             Literature activities        

                                       1:00-2:00             Activity time

                                       2:00-2:20            Recess; outdoor time

                                       2:20-2:45            Library, music, art, etc.

                                       2:45-3:00            Sharing events of day,

                                                                   discussions,   plans for

                                                                   next day, dismissal

 

Source:  Brewer, J.  (2001).  Introduction to early childhood education:  Preschool through primary years (4th edition).  London:  Allyn and Bacon

 

Kindergarten to third Grade - Full-Day Program

 

                                       8:45-9:15             Arrival, group time,

                                                                   activity planning

                                       9:15-10:30            Activity areas

                                      10:30-11:00           Snack and whole language

                                                                   group activity

                                      11:00-12:15            Activity areas

                                      12:15-12:30           Transition to lunch

                                      12:30-1:00             Lunch

                                       1:00-1:30              Outdoor activity

                                       1:30-2:50             Afternoon activity areas

                                       2:50-3:00            Preparation for dismissal

 

Source:  Miller, R. (1996).  The developmentally appropriate inclusive classroom in early education.  London:  Delmar Publishing.

 

Preschool - Half-day Program

 

                                       8:15-8:30             Arrival, greetings, transition

                                                                   to group time

                                       8:30-8:50            Morning group time

                                       8:50-9:00            Planning and transition to

                                                                   learning center activities

                                       9:00-10:00           Learning center activities

                                      10:00-10:15           Clean-up time and transition

                                                                   to snack time

                                      10:15-10:30           Snack time

                                      10:30-10:45           Music and movement

                                      10:45-10:55           Transition to outdoors

                                      10:55-11:30           Outdoor activities

                                      11:30-11:40            Transition to indoors

                                      11:40-12:00           Story time

                                      12:00-12:15           Evaluation of day, transition

                                                                   for departure

 

Source:  Jurek, D. (1995).  Teaching young children:  A guide for the beginning teacher.  Morristown, NJ:  Fearon Teacher Aids.

 

Thinking About Scheduling Your Time

 

How does time feel when you've got something to do that you really love to do?

 

How does time feel when you've got something to do that you have to get done?

 

How does time feel when you're doing something that someone else told you to do?

 

How does time feel when you're doing something you chose to do yourself?

 

Thinking About Scheduling Children's Time

 

Now think about how time feels to young children.

 


Are you allowing children to use time in the best way for their age and their learning styles?

 

Setting Limits

 

There are four questions you can ask yourself in order to decide if a behavior is inappropriate or exceeding the limits.

 

1. Is the behavior unsafe to the child or to any other children or to any adults?

 

If YES, use one of the five limit-setting techniques.

 

If NO, go to the next question.

 

2. Is the behavior resulting in the destruction materials and/or equipment?

 

If YES, use one of the five limit-setting techniques.

 

If NO, go to the next question.

 

3. Is the child avoiding accepting responsibility for his own actions?

 

If YES, use one of the five limit-setting techniques.

 

If NO, go to the next question.

 

4. Is the behavior resulting in disrespectful or unequal treatment of children or adults?

 

If YES, use one of the five limit-setting techniques.

 

            If NO, and the answer to the other three questions is NO, there does
          not seem to be a problem.

 

If you have answered yes to one or more of the four questions, use one of the following five limit-setting techniques to guide the child's behavior to help him or her stay within the limits.

 

1. Information: "I see your jacket on the floor near your cubby."

 

2. I-message: "I'm worried that someone might trip on the jacket you left on the floor." 

or

"I don't like it when you leave your jacket on the floor, because then someone else has to pick it up."

3. Consequences: "When you drop your jacket on the floor, you pick it up and hang it in your cubby."

 

4. Choices: "You can put your jacket away by yourself or with my help."

 

5. Contingencies: "When you have hung your jacket in your cubby, you will be ready to wash your hands for breakfast." 

 

Negotiation

 

Negotiation is an appropriate guidance technique when two or more children are involved in a conflict of some sort.  Negotiation is not an appropriate guidance technique when a child is being disrespectful, acting in an unsafe manner, not taking responsibility for his or her own behavior, or is destroying or damaging someone's property other than his or her own.  Some situations require that you use more than one guidance technique.  You may want to use active listening, setting limits, and negotiation all at once!

 

Six Steps in Negotiation

 

1.     Help the children figure out what the real problem is.  Frequently

     children think the problem is that "I had it first!"  However, in

     such a situation, the real problem is that they both want to play

     with the same toy at the same time.

2.    Ask the children for their ideas for solving the problem.  Be

     careful not to indicate which ideas you think are best.  Children

     will quickly pick up on that and realize that YOU really want to

     solve the problem for them.

3.    Check with the children to see what they think of the different

     ideas.

4.    Help the children decide which seems to be the best solution or

    idea.

5.    Support the children's decision.  For example, you can set a timer

    if they've decided to take 10-minute turns.

6.    Give positive feedback to the children. Let them know that you

     noticed how well they solved that problem!

 

Building Relationships with Children

 

When you combine reasonable limits with genuine respect and you have genuine affection for the children in your classroom, you will find that you have created a positive and supportive psychological environment for children and others.

 

How do you provide reasonable limits for children?  First of all, remember that children need limits; they provide security for young children.  When setting limits for young children, you must take into account the child's developmental level.  What is safe for one child may be unsafe for another.  What is disrespectful behavior at one age is simply normal development at another age.  As children grow, they need to have more input into limits.

 

How do you show children that you truly have respect for them as individuals?  Involve each child in things that concern him or her (child-centered curriculum).  Model the behavior you want to see in children.  Accept as valid all of each child's feelings (active listening).  Be honest about your own feelings.

 

How do you give unconditional love to each child in your classroom?  Appreciate each child's uniqueness.  Give children time to grow.  Verbalize and demonstrate affection to each child.  Spend time with each child

 

Original handout developed by Linda Ruhmann, Associate Professor, San Antonio College

 

Behavior Issues

 

It is important to be aware that these behavior issues are not chronic and/or destructive behaviors.  Young children typically exhibit these behaviors as they develop.  They include harassment, anger, aggression, and biting.

 

Harassment or Teasing

 

One of your jobs is to figure out why the child is teasing*.  Then you can base your handling of teasing on your analysis of the child's needs; a red flag should go off if you treat all teasing situations identically!  The use of a Contract is often very effective with this behavior.  And remember to interact positively and supportively with the child who is being teased!

 

Anger and Aggression

 

Whether one is an adult or a child, anger is rarely the primary emotion.  Other emotions are usually felt first.  If they are difficult to name or accept, we then turn to anger and express that.  Therefore, it is important that we accept and honor children's emotions and help them learn to express them; a red flag should go off if you hear yourself saying, "It's not nice to..."

 

Aggression is divided into two main categories.  Instrumental aggression is an expression of anger, a means of gaining control, and a way of testing one's power.  The use of instrumental aggression is usually related to developmental issues.  Hostile aggression is an attack on another person or an attempt to damage another person's self-esteem.

 

 

Biting

 

Usually, children bite because they cannot express themselves in a more appropriate manner.  A red flag should go off if you hear yourself referring to a child as "a biter."  Instead, your job is to help the child learn to communicate more effectively.    

 

*Some Reasons Children Tease

 

1.     Children need to have opportunities to use their energy

           appropriately

 

2.    A particular child or a group of children might need more

           structure at certain times of the day

 

3.    Some children need more positive reinforcement for their

          good qualities (self-esteem issues)

 

4.    Some children have fears that they cannot articulate and so

           resort to teasing others

 

5.    A child's home environment may be too restrictive or confusing

 

Observing and Recording the Progress of Young Children

 

An excellent, comprehensive resource for this topic is:

Nilsen, B. A. (2001).  Week by Week: Plans for Observing and Recording Young Children (second edition).  Delmar Thomson Learning.

 

Monitoring the progress of young children is a process that needs to involve the use of a variety of methods. The author of Week by Week discusses and gives examples of a variety of methods for observing and recording the progress and behavior of young children.  The methods are described under four categories as follows:

 

1.                   Narratives:

        Transcriptions of interviews and conversations with children

        Descriptions of cognitive task experiments

        Running records

        Anecdotal records

2.                 Criterion referenced methods:

        Developmental checklists

        Rating scales

        Class list log

3.                 Work Samples:

        Photographs

        Audio/video recordings

        Writings

        Constructions

        Drawings

        Art media

4.                 Quantitative Methods

        Frequency counts

        Time samples

 


How can developmental checklists be used?

 

Developmental checklists such as the Brigance can be helpful in the following ways:

*They can help you get ideas for activities and equipment in the classroom related to skills that children typically develop.

 

*Use it to determine if a child is developing on-target for her age.  If a child is behind in a skill area, develop some ideas to engage that child in activities related to the area that needs more development.

 

*Use it as a guide to include typical development milestones in a newsletter for parents.

 

*Give individual parents some suggestions regarding how to work on emerging skills with their children in the context of home and community activities. 

 

*Use developmental checklist information as one item in parent/teacher conferences.

 

The Brigance Inventory of Early Development

 

The Brigance Inventory of Early Development can help to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.  It can be used as an assessment, record keeping and instructional planning in the classroom.  

 

It is an excellent resource for determining age ranges when children typically acquire specific skills.

 

There are booklets used for individual children.  There is large manual that goes with it to explain in more detail each skill listed.  Here is one example from the Brigance:

 

How to determine the age range for typical development for each skill:

 

*Look at page 21 in the Yellow Brigance individual booklet (for ages birth to seven years)

 

*Find the skill titled:

 

J-3      226     Prints Uppercase Letters in Sequence:

 

5-6  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  6-6

 

Developmental age notation:                                                Developmental age notation:

For 5-6, read 5 years, 6 months                              For 6-6, read 6 years, 6 months

 

Therefore, this skill - Prints uppercase letters in sequence- typically is developed between 5 years, 6 months and 6 years, 6 months of age.  This age range may be older than we generally think!

 

Check Your Knowledge of Development

 

Cover the left-hand column and give this a try...What is the age range during which a child typically learns to....

 

          Skill                                                     Your answer                             Brigance says

 

1.          Tie shoes                                              __________                            ­­5 yrs-7 yrs

 

2.         Can accurately say their                       __________                            6 yrs-7 yrs

            telephone number, complete

            address, and birth date

 

3.         Distinguishes between                           __________                            6yrs-7yrs

            fantasy and reality

 

4.         Plays cooperatively in large                   ___________                          5 1/2 yrs-6yrs

            group games                                                                                         

 

5.         Reads color words                                __________                          6yrs/3mos-7yrs                                                                                     

 

(Green Brigance)  During what grade(s) does a child typically learn...

 

1.          To tell time to the hour and                    __________                             First Grade

            half hour

 

2.         Spells number words, "one"                    __________                           Second Grade

            through "ten"

 

3.         Draw a person that includes                    __________                          Second Grade

            the neck

 

4.         Understands fractions related                __________                          Second to         to halves and fourths (volume)                                                                        Fourth grade   

                                                                                                           

           

�Child Development Department - San Antonio College 

 

Possible Signs of Learning Disabilities in Young Children

 

A learning disability is a problem with processing.  Learning disabilities appear to affect a person's central nervous system in ways that can interfere with the organizational systems that control the intake and/or output of visual and auditory information.  The early childhood teacher can watch for discrepancies in a young child's chronological age and the developmental skills that the youngster demonstrates.  Learning disabilities are not generally diagnosed prior to first or second grade. The early childhood teacher can therefore help a child by encouraging involvement in activities that could provide practice in the deficient skill areas.  For example, if a child seems to experience excessive visual/spatial activity difficulties encourage her to use materials such as puzzles, pathfinders, peg-boards, etc. Just like any person, the child who is having difficulty with a particular type of activity will have a tendency to stay away from the materials representing their deficiency; none of us like to voluntarily do things that we're no good at!  So here are some possible signs; remember to use a reputable developmental checklist to make sure that the expected behaviors or activities are within the child's developmental skill range.  Also remember that all children experience problems with some of these areas periodically.

 

*Excessive motion

 

*Difficulty attending

 

*Difficulty in activities that include crossing the mid-line of the body (example:  easel painting)

 

*Difficulty following multi-step directions

 

*Poor motor coordination

 

*Difficulty with balance

 

*Poor memory

 

*Excessive aggression

 

*Difficulty in making generalizations

 

*Difficulty with impulse control

 

*Difficulty with expressive and/or expressive language

 

Here are some specific strategies that can help you assist the child who may be at risk for a learning disability (Resource:  Adapting Early Childhood Curricula for Children in Inclusive Settings by R.E. Cook, A. Tessier, & M. D. Klein (1996):

 

1.               Use some basic behavior management techniques to help the child who demonstrates excessive movement...and be consistent!  Structure and consistency are helpful to these children.

 

2.                  Use multisensory approaches to activities and instruction.  This includes materials and activities that stimulate the child auditorily, visually, and tactilely. 

 

3.                  Allow for repeated practice with an activity or experience.

 

4.                  Provide activities and concepts that are relevant to the child's life and developmental stage.  Use concrete activities and examples.

 

5.                  Use task analysis to break a multi-step activity into smaller steps.

 

6.                  Use short sentences and be sure to use words the child understands.

 

7.                  Find things to praise with the child and concentrate on strengths as opposed to weaknesses.

 

8.                  Be willing to explain something many times to the child.

 

9.                  Provide modeling and physical assistance if necessary.

 

10.               Talk with a speech/language therapist to plan appropriate related strategies and activities.

 

11.               Help other adults, children, and parents realize that these children are not stupid or stubborn.     

 

Family Involvement and Community Resources

 

Try to find answers for each of these questions in order to improve your family involvement and familiarity with community resources.  Maybe you and some other teachers in your school could work on this together.

 

1.                   True or False:  You can expect that all children in your program will come from families similar to your own and will have the same values.

 

2.                  What type of involvement of parents do you want in your program?

 

3.                  A good resource for health information for parents is:

 

4.                  Tell how you would explain to parents the learning opportunities available in everyday household tasks and routines. 

 

5.                  Name a local resource for parents of children with suspected disabilities.

 

6.                  How can you show respect for a child's cultural background?

 

7.                  How can you help a family under stress?

 

8.                  What kind of suggestion could you give to help parents enjoy their children?

 

9.                   Tell about a suggestion you got from a parent that helped you improve the program for their child. 

10.               Tell how you can help a child make the transition to her classroom or school.

 

11.                Tell about a time you shared a child's achievement of a new skill with a parent.

 

12.              Give some suggestions about how to discuss a child's problem behavior with a parent in a constructive, supportive manner.

 

Source: Alexander, N. P. (2000).  Workshops that work!  The essential guide to successful training and workshops Beltsville, MD:  Gryphon House.

 

Guidelines for Setting up a Creative Art Center

 

1.                   Place the art area on tile; if your room is carpeted throughout,

           tape a shower curtain down so that children can be messy.

2.                  Place the art area near a natural source of light, if possible.

3.                  Place the art area near a water source.

4.                  Place materials so children can get what they want and put away

           with minimal adult help.

5.                  Encourage children to clean up after themselves; have appropriate

           clean-up materials so that they can do so.

6.                  Cue the art shelves so children can see where materials belong.

7.                  Provide basic art materials on a daily basis.

8.                  Rotate a variety of "other" art materials on a regular basis, based

           on the children's interest in using the materials.

9.                  Think "outside the box;" be creative when you are thinking about

            potential art materials.

10.               Use positive and child-centered guidance techniques in the art

           area.

11.                Talk about the process the child is experiencing, rather than

           focusing on the product.

12.               Mount and display children's artwork respectfully; avoid focusing

          on one child as the "class artist."

13.               Ask children if it's OK to write words on their artwork; use cards

           and/or sentence strips if they want to narrate their art work.

14.               Remember to apply the concept of developmentally appropriate

           practices in the art area.

15.               Allow children to engage in long-term art projects, rather than

           insisting that project be finished in one day.

 

Ethical Dilemmas

There are times when you find yourself in a situation for which there is no easy solution.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children has developed a Code of Ethical Conduct for early childhood professionals.  We recommend that you have copies of this code for yourself, for colleagues, and even for families.  You can go to the NAEYC website to order the Code (NAEYC.org).  Here are some ethical dilemmas you can work on in order to practice using the Code once you have it!

Mary teaches a group of 20 four-year old children.  Her teaching strategies are based on the constructivist theory of learning and are developmentally appropriate. She uses a play-based curriculum, integrating all areas of the curriculum.   The teacher who teaches the kindergarten class wants Mary to teach the children how to write their names.  She also has asked Mary to teach the children "phonics."

What ethical dilemma does Mary face?

 

Who are the "stakeholders" in this dilemma?

 

Using the Code of Ethical Conduct, what do you think Mary should do?

 

Elisa is a child in Ellen's first-grade classroom.  Ellen has noticed that Elisa's father touches Elisa in ways that Ellen considers inappropriate. However, she has seen other men in the country where Ellen teaches touch their female children in similar ways, and no one seems to notice.

 

What ethical dilemma does Ellen face?

 

Who are the "stakeholders" in this dilemma?

 

Using the Code of Ethical Conduct, what do you think Ellen should do?

 

Elijah is a seven-year, and the other children are reluctant to play with him.  They say he is too rough.  When his teacher, Robert, talks to Elijah's parents, they tell him that they have taught Elijah to stand up for himself, and even to defend himself if necessary.

 

What ethical dilemma does Robert face?

 

Who are the "stakeholders" in this dilemma?

 

Using the Code of Ethical Conduct, what do you think Robert should do?

 

Handling Stress Effectively

 

Working with young children can be stressful in and of itself.  There may be other things going on in your personal life that are stressful as well.  In order to be the top-notch teacher that you want to be, it is important that you deal effectively with the stress in your life.  Here are some ideas for how to do that.  These ideas are adapted from materials provided by the National Institute of Mental Health and from "Handling Stress" by Craig Lock.

 

Get to know your own signs that tell you that you are getting "stressed out."  Pay attention to those signs.

 

Get physical.  Using your muscles and getting fresh into your lungs can give you a whole new perspective.  Stress-reducing hormones are released, also.

 

Name the things that cause you stress. Then eliminate them, if possible.

 

Share your stress with someone you can trust to listen and not tell you what you should do.  Don't let pride keep you from seeking professional help.

 

Admit it when you really don't have any control over a situation.

 

Take care of yourself.  Your inner child needs an outer parent!  Get enough sleep and eat right!

 

Have fun!  In fact, schedule it.

 

Get involved in ways that are comfortable for you.  Even introverts benefit from relationships with others!  Sitting by yourself and worrying will only make things worse.

 

Reward yourself (even if it's an inner "Congratulations!") when you finish a small part of a larger task.

 

Cooperate; avoid confrontation (when appropriate).

 

Use positive self-talk to create a positive inner environment.

 

Cry!  (Yeah, even you big lugs can benefit from shedding a few tears!)

 

Laugh!  In fact, laugh until you cry!

 



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