Friday, 27 September 2013

Gardening For Preschoolers - What Teachers Should Know

Gardening is one of the most satisfying of all activities, irrespective of age. Planting a seed and seeing a plant grow from it offers a sense of achievement and pride that even a toddler will feel, even if the process by which it has happened is not completely understood. While the colors and beauty of flowering plants will add to a child’s appreciation of nature, being part of the process of growing vegetables will encourage children to eat even those for which they have an instinctive dislike.
Gardening can be a very positive preschool or day care activity and the children will love it. It doesn't to need a large amount of space and expensive equipment.  A small patch of earth and a few basic child friendly tools are all that is required. Having said this, teachers must ensure that the children are closely supervised at this time – putting dirt and unwashed vegetation in their mouths is something all kids love to do.

Tips For Gardening With Toddlers

The basic principle to keep in mind is that gardening must be made safe for the kids – having fun while doing it will come naturally to them.
  • Use gardening tools that are designed for use by young kids. These are safe with no sharp edges on which they can cut themselves. And the small size makes it easy for small hands to hold, lift and use.
  • Find age appropriate gardening tasks for the kids. The youngest ones may not be able to do any planting, but watering plants will come naturally to them. Most of them will enjoy plucking and picking and helping to keep the garden area clean. And they will all love to dig in the dirt and make shapes with the mud they dig up.
  • When flowers and vegetables are ready for plucking, let the children do it. Show them how to do the plucking without damaging the plant. This may take a few repetitions. But once they learn how to do it properly, they will truly enjoy collecting the flowers to decorate the classroom or the vegetables which they can eat themselves.
  • Gardening need not always be outdoors. Find some visually appealing and fast growing plants and place the seeds between layers of wet paper towels. Place this in a plastic bag and keep it in a warm place. The kids will enjoy watching the seed germinate and being able to see the changes happening in front of their eyes will be fascinating. Toilet paper cylinders and egg cartons make great planters into which the germinated seeds can be transferred.
  • When the sprouts in the planters have grown big enough to be planted outside, let the kids do this. Be prepared for a lot of plants to be lost – kids can be too rough with them. But when they see the damage they are doing by being too rough with the plants they grew, they will learn the need for being gentle and careful
  • Keep the gardening fun by installing a fairy house or placing a few small plastic animals around the garden for the kids to play with. Here too some of the plants may be damaged in the early stages of playing, but the kids will naturally become more careful when the see the damage that is being done to their loved plants.
If there is enough space, keep some aside for the kids to try and plant and maintain a garden on their own – but under “hands off” adult supervision. Of course they will mainly make mistakes and do the wrong thing, but that is the whole point. When they see the difference between their own efforts and what is done with adult guidance, they will want to do better.

Friday, 13 September 2013

What Are The Best Ways To Teach A Child To Read?

Reading is the foundation of all learning and the more proficient a child’s reading ability, the easier studying is. The mistake that many parents, and a number of teachers, make is to pressurize children into trying to read too early. Studies show that a child actually begins to read, in the sense of being able to understand basics concepts and ideas from the written word, only at the age of 6 or so. To force an attempt at such comprehension on a toddler can lead to confusion, a dislike of reading caused by not understanding what it means and offers and future problems in comprehending school curricula.

However, this does not mean that younger children should not be encouraged to look at books and try to understand the alphabet, words and perhaps even a few simple phrases and sentences. If they can do this, it will help them to progress faster when formal reading begins. But if they are not happy with this, it should not be forced on them. Some kids start later but then progress very fast and leave the early beginners behind. Here are a few tips on encouraging a child to read.

Teaching Reading

  • The first step is to begin reading to a child at a very young age – even a few weeks old is fine. Not only does this develop a bond with the child, it makes books a part of the child’s life. As time passes and the words being read and the pictures to be seen make sense, the attraction for books and being able to read on their own will grow.
  • Read from the right age appropriate books. For children of up to 18 months of age read lullabies, board books with real pictures, song books and cloth books of different textures. For the ages of 19 months to 3 years song books, nursery rhymes and board books with short stories are the best. For children between 3 and 6 song books, rhyming books, picture books and story books will attract and retain their interest.
  • Once a child is able to comprehend at least a small part of what is being read, begin to ask a few simple questions. Watch the child being read to and note any parts of the story that seem to elicit special interest. These are the parts on which questions should be asked as the child has been more involved here and would have paid special attention. Keep the questions simple and basic and help and prompt the child to give answers. If the answers are not right, work with the child to encourage the correct answer to be given. At all times offer encouragement and aim to keep the child involved as an active participant in the discussion.
  • Set a good example by doing your reading in front of the child. Children are heavily influenced by what adults do and will often try to copy what they see. Even if the child is resting or playing with toys, the fact that you are reading and enjoying it will register and the child will wonder what is so nice about reading.
  • Once a child is familiar and comfortable with books, it is time to start reading. Begin by sitting with the child and allowing him or her to see each word you read. In time common sight words – the most common ones in the language - will be understood in the same way pictures are. From this will come an association of letters of the alphabet with specific sounds and with this the basics of reading are in place.