CALMING YOUR KIDS
WITH LEARNING ACTIVITIES
As I’m sure most of you know, being a parent is no easy task. For the first time, you begin to realize where the phrases ‘under foot’ and ‘out of hand’ actually came from. There are, however, some ‘tricks of the trade’ which can make life a little easier. I know they work because I have used them myself (and taught them to countless other parents).
The basic premise is that when children start getting out of hand or under foot you can help them return to a more reasonable state by redirecting their attention and energy. The benefits of this approach to discipline (which, of course, is not appropriate in every situation) are twofold. In the short term, you will be able to gain control of the situation immediately, without raising your voice or getting upset. While in the long run you child will be learning a valuable method for controlling his own behavior.
Sometimes you can redirect your child or children (all of these activities can be used with individual children or groups of children) by simply beginning an activity. For example, Let’s say you were driving down the expressway and your baby began to cry or fuss. You are not in a position to tend to the baby at that moment but you could calm him by singing a song. At other times it may be necessary to acknowledge the situation which the child is presently in. When this is the case simply voice your sympathy, empathy, approval or disapproval calmly and sincerely. Then suggest another activity.
There are countless activities which you can use to redirect your child. Those which I have chosen here, have the added advantage of improving your child’s academic skills. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to play these 'games' with your child when you are having good days too, lest your child get the idea that misbehavior is necessary in order to begin the activities!
Activity #1 LETTER HUNT
Examples of times when you might want to try this activity- You are busy trying to cook dinner, pay the bills, read the newspaper, etc. and your child is climbing all over you, making a mess, fighting with his sister, etc.
How this activity will benefit your child academically- Improve letter recognition, hand eye coordination, and figure ground perception.
What you need -
A pencil and an old magazine (try not to use newspaper or your child will get covered with newsprint).
How to play-
1) Choose a letter of the alphabet.
2) Ask you child to find and circle that letter in the magazine.
3)Choose another letter and repeat step 2. Continue in the same fashion.
l)Choose a letter and a number from one to ten
2)Ask your child to find and circle that number of the letter which you have chosen. For example "Let's see if you can find and circle four 'E’s on that page of your magazine.
3)Continue play by repeating steps one and two with different combinations of numbers and letters.
Variation 2 (for more advanced youngsters)
l) Choose a word (if you are not looking at the magazine choose small common words like ‘is', ‘all’, 'the', 'and', 'how', 'with’, love', 'for', etc.
2)Ask your child to find and circle that word in the magazine.
3)Continue play by repeating steps one and two with different words.
Activity #2 THINK ABOUT IT
Examples of times when you may want to use this activity-
You have gone out to lunch (at your child's urging). Now your child has taken two bites, stands up on his chair and announces that he is finished with lunch. Begin this activity as you help him to reseat himself and resume eating.
This game is also excellent for overcoming boredom during long car rides, long waits on the checkout line, etc. It is appropriate for all age groups (even one year olds!)
How this activity will benefit your child-
Strengthen long term memory and problem solving skills.
How to Play-
1)Think of one specific person, character, place or thing, This can be anyone from Humpty Dumpty to Benjamin Franklin, anything from a paper clip to an ocean liner.
2)Begin giving clues to your child about the person, place or thing you are thinking about. For example you might say, "I 'm thinking about a place where we went. You played on the swings and the slide, and you dug in the sandbox. Can you guess what place I’m thinking about?- Wait for response. Ask the child if she would like another clue. If she guesses correctly respond with something along the lines of, "That's right a playground, you are very good at this game aren't you?" If the child chooses the wrong answer help her guess again with some more clues.
Here is a second example. "I'm thinking of a character which we have read about in your Mother Goose Book. This character kissed the girls and made them cry, Can you guess which character I'm thinking about?" Once again continue giving clues until your child guesses the right answer. Don’t forget to leave some wait time between your clues so that your child has time to think. Your clues can become as obvious as “Could I be thinking about Georgie Porgie?" "Yes, that's right. Very good."
Try to give clues which require some thought on the part of the child and which ultimately do lead to the answer.
Once your child learns the game give her a chance to give the clues while you try to guess what he or she is thinking of.
Remember, there are no losers here. Everyone wins when you enjoy these activities and the time you are spending together.