The goal in early childhood education should be to strengthen cognitive and social development. In early childhood, playful learning includes exploration and engagement. Engagement is especially import because by participating in your child’s play will help build strong family bonds. Moreover, play based learning helps develop curiosity, language, and social emotional skills in children. New York State Education Development has a tip sheet how as a parent you can explore and engage in play with your child. Click here to learn more about benefits of play based learning.
Type of Play and Highlighted Benefits Of Play Based Learning
To sum it up, play has physical, cognitive, and social benefits. Active playing helps develop fine and gross motor skills. Also, play helps cognitive thinking; problem solving, independent thinking, hand-eye coordination, and more. Children are constantly exploring, observing and processing new information in their play. Social benefits from playful activities such as hide and seek help build skills like communication, negotiation, and self awareness. You’re also forming strong family bond together.
Choosing the right early childhood program is a critical, but unguided process. The NAEYC has set 10 program standards for early childhood education. The standard acts as a guide to help families choose the right child care center, preschool, or kindergarten.
The NAEYC stands for National Association for the Education of Young Children. It promotes high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research.
In developing their ECE program standards, the NAEYC received input from experts and educators from around the country. Today, the standards and criteria serve as the foundation of the NAEYC Accreditation system for early childhood programs. To earn accreditation, programs must meet all 10 standards.
Below, we’ve summarized the 10 program standards set forth by NAEYC. Despite whether or not the early childhood program you’re exploring is NAEYC accredited, use this as a guide to asking the right questions.
Overview of the NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards
Relationships: Promotes positive relationships among all children and adults. It encourages each child’s sense of individual worth and belonging as part of a community and fosters each child’s ability to contribute as a responsible community member.
Curriculum: Implements a curriculum that is consistent with its goals for children and promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive.
Teaching: Uses developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development in the context of the curriculum goals.
Assessment of Child Progress: The program is informed by ongoing systematic, formal, and informal assessment approaches to provide information on children’s learning and development.
Health: Promotes the nutrition and health of children and protects children and staff from illness and injury. Programs must be healthy and safe to support children’s healthy development.
Staff Competencies, Preparation, and Support: Employs and supports a teaching staff with the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse needs and interests.
Families: Establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with each child’s family to foster children’s development in all settings
Community Relationships: establishes relationships with and uses the resources of the children’s communities to support the achievement of program goals.
Physical Environment: safe and healthful environment that provides appropriate and well-maintained indoor and outdoor physical environments.
Leadership and Management: Program effectively implements policies, procedures, and systems that support stable staff and strong personnel, and fiscal, and program management so all children, families, and staff have high-quality experiences.
The above list is an overview of NAEYC’s program standards. For more detail about each standard and specific directive for what to look for in a program, learn more here. For a printable version of the NAEYC standards in PDF, download it here.
How many books should I read to my toddler a day? I get this question a lot from parents. The rule of thumb is to read for at least 15 minutes a day. Because books vary in length, there isn’t a magic number for the number of books you need to read to your toddler.
You know the saying, quality over quantity? That applies to reading too! Going by how many minutes to read a day instead of how many books is a better gauge. The quality of the reading time matters. Quality of reading does not mean choosing the perfect book, but the engagement during reading. Are you pointing out things in the picture, making predictions, talking about the story, or relating it back to your toddler’s experiences? Engagement during reading helps toddlers build vocabulary, comprehension, and expands their world to new ideas.
I mentioned before that a quality book doesn’t mean the best book – because every person has their own preference, including our toddlers! The best books to read to your toddler are about topics they are interested in (e.g., dinosaurs, cars, trains). If you are looking for new books to add to your collection, you can never go wrong with classics that have stood the test of time. You’ll know they are interested in the book when they ask to read books over and over again. If you read their favorite book repeatedly every day for at least 15 minutes a day, you are already on a roll!
For a starter list of popular children’s classics, look for these books in your local library or at the book store:
Social-emotional learning is the new age of learning for children. Now, have you ever heard of a maker mindset? A maker mindset is a new term directly connected to social-emotional learning. A maker mindset describes a child or even an adult who are:
Having a growth mindset is a component of a maker mindset. The second component is creativity. Learning to have a maker mindset at an early age will only benefit children. This is because the future of work will require a maker mindset. Many characteristics that a child or an adult with a maker mindset include many “soft skills” such as leadership, communication, collaboration, and more! Notice that most of these skills are now highly sought-after in the workforce.
How important is it to have a maker mindset?
The idea of a maker mindset only became mainstream recently. As parents, it’s essential to pay attention to the latest in education trends since we play an integral role in the system. The U.S. Department of Education had the initiative to revamp hundreds of high schools across the country with a makerspace. Makerspaces provide students the materials and environment they need to create, invent, tinker, and explore. This helps them build vital career skills, including critical thinking, planning, communication, and problem-solving.
Because this concept is so new and we are planning for the future – it’s difficult to say what role having a maker mindset will play in our children’s future. However, due to massive investments in educational spaces to promote creative thinking and problem solving and the advocacy for maker mindset by thought leaders, it’s safe to say it’s not going anywhere.
Now how exactly can you help your young child have a maker mindset?
One way to encourage a maker mindset in children is to let them be curious about the world! At an early age, I’m sure your child has questioned the world. “How do plants grow?”. “Where does milk come from?”. “Where do cows live?”.
Yes, all the questions can sometimes be maddening. If you think about the questions your child is asking – it’s actually pretty admirable. Keep encouraging the questioning and seize the opportunity to further explore these questions with your child.
For children interested in dinosaurs, read a book about dinosaurs. Take it one step further and find a museum with a dinosaur exhibit! The real-life experience with the life-sized majestic creatures that used to roam our Earth is a fun and engaging way to learn about dinosaurs. Children are like sponges, they will absorb any information given to them.
While exploring with your child you can also ask questions right back at them. For example, if you are at a park ask them about what they notice in their surroundings. Ask questions identifying objects such as leaves and ask why they think they are green. Most likely, your young child would not understand why, but you can be the one to explain to your child why leaves are green. Everywhere and in everything you do with your child there is always a teachable moment!
Teach children how to problem solve!
Problem-solving involves three simple steps:
Identifying a problem
Figuring out a solution to the problem
Implementing the solution
To put the steps into action let’s take reading as an example. You and your child encounter a new word in a story you are reading. The problem would be that you and your child do not understand this word, if you can’t understand this word maybe you cannot understand the context of the sentence.
A solution to this problem would be doing a quick internet search or even better, you can even expose your child to reading the dictionary. Although it seems old-fashioned, using a physical dictionary as a resource will help encourage your child to reach out for it if they have any future words they do not understand and even encourage reading!
While your child problem-solves they may encounter obstacles such as making mistakes or feeling stuck.
Making mistakes is all a part of being human. Everyone makes a mistake at different points in their lives. But, what is really important is being able to understand and learn from those mistakes. As a child it is easy to make simple mistakes, maybe such as doing a math problem wrong, using the wrong tense in a sentence, or maybe your child could be building a lego set and misread a step.
When it comes to making mistakes as a child it is important for you as a parent to help navigate them through it in a positive way. That means…
1. Encourage mistakes!
We don’t want to label mistakes as something bad. If children have a negative connotation towards mistakes they could feel scared if they make another mistake. They could also be unwilling to learn from their mistake and could simply give up on finding a solution. Let them know that it is perfectly okay to make mistakes and that no matter what that does not change your love from them.
2. Let them take action to solve it
It is tempting to help children stuck on a problem right away. This is especially true if the solution is clear to yourself. However, our children will need to learn from their mistakes on their own. Try asking them questions that can help them figure out the solution and what they should do next time. But, giving them the answer right away diminishes them from understanding, learning, and developing patience.
3. Think on the bright side
When children are in a difficult situation while doing a homework assignment, a project, or even a simple game, it can be frustrating. However, we need to always encourage them to have a positive mindset. Learning to have a positive mindset goes a long way.
The Children Are the Future
With a maker mindset, your child can develop soft skills that are essential to the future of our society. Sounds dramatic? Maybe. But you can’t deny they are the future. At the rate technology is advancing, who knows where we’ll be when our little ones graduate college.
You can incorporate maker mindset concepts with our learning kits and learning mats! This is because our learning products encourage children to have a maker mindset with problem-solving activities and making deeper connections with ideas in stories.
Hopefully, through this article, you’ve learned more about a maker mindset and how to encourage it when teaching your children! If you have any questions about maker mindset, let us know in the comments below!
Reading bilingual books to preschoolers has many benefits. Raising multilingual children as a parent not familiar with a second language is quite difficult. Not to mention if you’re not fluent in both languages, it becomes more difficult. In either case, starting early will benefit you and the child greatly. By creating an environment of speaking a different language at home while they learn English at school, your child will naturally learn both languages. For this reason, I made a list of children’s bilingual books for preschoolers to help you get started.
Benefits of reading bilingual books aloud to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers
Helps young chidren with learning new vocabulary by expanding their vocabulary through books
Exposes children to new and different cultural backgrounds
Helps connect with family culture and traditions for 2nd and 3rd generation learners
Encourages learning new language at home for both the parent and child
Helps develop cognitive thinking skills and enhances memory
Will my child learn English if I speak another language?
Worrying if your child will speak English is a common fear bilingual parents and immigrant parents have. But, I have great news! Your child is 100% capable of learning both English and other languages. Assuming you’re in an English-speaking country, once your child starts going to school, they will easily pick up English.
If you are fluent in another language, your child is already at a significant advantage. Only speak to your child in another language and they will be fluent in no time. If you’re not convinced, use my experience as one case study.
I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 6 years old. English was my second language and I primarily spoke Mandarin. My mom was afraid I wouldn’t pick up English and struggle in school. As a result, she only spoke in English with me. I only had to take ESL for one year and I was fluent in English. As an adult now, I always joke that my Mandarin proficiency is that of a 6-year-old since that’s the last time I was fully immersed in the language.
Here’s another example. I lived near my oldest son’s paternal grandparents for the first five years of his life. His grandpa only spoke to him in Mandarin since he was born and still do so till this day. He’s now way more fluent than I am in Mandarin.
Bilingual Books for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Let’s Clean Up has text in Korean, English, and Romanized Korean, making it easy to read. With bright imagery, hand-drawn illustrations, and simple dialogue, it’s enjoyable for both parents and little learners to enjoy together.
Author and Illustrator, Katie, created this book because she wanted to expose her child to the Korean language. She couldn’t find a book for a non-Korean speaking parent to read, so she created her own!
Hajimete Zukan 415 Picture Book / Japanese-English By Shogakukan Inc.
All in all, the 415 photos in this bilingual book introduce all sorts of fascinating things from animals to vehicles. With text in English and Japanese, this book is a great way for kids to learn vocabulary in both languages.
Little learners can also hear the English and Japanese pronunciations of every word via smartphone.
Do you have bilingual books for preschoolers you’d like to share with our community? Let me know in the comments below or send me a message!
I didn’t know there was the concept of process versus product in art. Embarking on my journey with TigerKubz has also exposed me to broader child development concepts that are exciting, but sometimes overwhelming.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the pros and cons of process and product art in the early childhood years.
Process vs. product – what’s the difference?
The easiest way to explain process vs. product art is to use Lego as an example. When we purchase a Lego set, your child (or our inner child ?) is set on replicating the final product we see on the box. When we do this, we are focused on the finished outcome being a certain way, aka, the product.
Now, let’s say we have the same set of bricks, but instead of following the manual, we start building. We don’t even know what the finished outcome will be! But, we’re fully embracing our creativity, imagination, and experimentation. The sky’s the limit. This is process art, aka being a Masterbuilder (Lego Movie reference).
It’s not you…
When we search for arts and crafts online and on Pinterest, we typically come across product art. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “Pinterest worthy”. This is due to the search terms we use such as “Apple crafts for preschoolers”, “cute pumpkin themed crafts”, “Valentine’s Day crafts”. They’re mostly product focused searches and we have subconsciously set expectations for how the craft should look like.
Parents who are not educators are typically focused on the product/outcome. I also think that our culture and workplace has trained our minds to focus on the outcome and not the process. But, what if I told you, that introducing “art” to young children can be much simpler than the cutest project you see online?
What does process art look like in the early childhood years?
Process art typically involves a predetermined set of tools provided to children to work with. There are no directions except maybe to set boundaries art tools usage (e.g., “paint goes on the paper, not the walls”, “we wear a smock when we work with paint to keep our clothes clean”). Children have full autonomy to create whatever their heart desires.
To the untrained eyes, process art does not look “show worthy” during the early years – especially the toddler years. This is because toddlers do not yet have the physical control and development to manipulate tools as well as older kids. And certainly not as well as a mature adult. This is obvious right? But, we still expect young children to create these wonderful cute pieces of art. Why? Because we’re proud parents who are eager to hang our children’s artwork all over the fridge and home. There’s no shame in that!
As an example, a scribble our child produces is much more than just a “scribble”. It’s the first step to drawing intentional shapes that will eventually turn into something recognizable. That is a frame worthy milestone!
A child mixing paint colors is exploring the science of color combination. As a result, they’ll quickly learn that mixing ALL the colors turns black. That child just created a new color they didn’t have on their palette! Whoa!
Why do you want your child to do art?
To determine what type of art you want your child to do, first, step back and think about what the primary goal is for doing art with your child. Are you creating a cute artwork to send to grandma for Mother’s Day (product)? Or, are you trying to help your child embrace the creative process of art (process)? They have two very distinct outcomes.
Pros and cons of product art versus process art.
Early childhood educators were trained never to touch children’s artwork. This is to respect children’s creative process and choices regardless of whether it met our “expectations”. Now, I’ll admit that I have in the past interfered (severely) with my child’s process. “The eye doesn’t go there”. “Why don’t you paint a flower”. “The house needs a door”. “It doesn’t look like the model”. Yikes, I know.
But, I’ve given myself grace, because now I’m more informed and I’m here to pass on the knowledge with you. If you’ve been more product oriented too, don’t fret. There are pros to exposing your child to product-based art.
Encourages child to use their creativity and freewill. Encourages experimentation and self-direction. Increases child’s self-esteem. Outcome is 100% original and is your child’s work. It will always be developmentally appropriate because it’s at the child’s own pace and capability.
Caregivers may not understand the art. Children who struggle with creativity or fine motor skills may finish their project early.
Expose child to new art processes. Helps a child practice following a set of instructions in order. Themed artwork reinforces learning in a subject. Provides more structure and guidance. It may boost child’s confidence when they see they are able to replicate the model.
The art is not original. Creativity is limited. Some projects may not be developmentally appropriate, which may lower confidence. Caregiver might be more focused on the outcome that it may suppress creativity.
So, which is better? Product or process art?
As you can see, there are pros and cons of both process art and product art. As a firm believer of “everything is good in moderation”, I apply this to art as well. Yes, I’ve engaged in more product art in the past and still continue to do so in the present because my children enjoy it. But, my children are also given autonomy to engage in process art.
Based on my family’s experience, the product focused projects exposed my children to different ways to explore and use arts and crafts materials. Because of this experience, they felt confident in their ability to experiment and combine various tools and techniques to create something entirely unique.
In summary, the question shouldn’t be “which is better, process art of product art?” because they both have their benefits. I hope this post helps you understand the pros and cons of both so you can be more intentional with whichever art project you choose to engage your child in. ?