Book Excerpt: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D.,
and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., with Diane Eyer, Ph.D.
Bringing the Lessons Home
Play is a central component in children`s mental growth. Play helps children
make meaning in their world, it helps them learn about themselves, and equally crucially,
it helps them to learn how to get along with others. Yet it can be difficult to
resist the trends of our achievement-oriented society when we`re faced with the
choice of allowing our children more downtime or signing them up for the latest
class, sport, or activity. The following tips can help you make play a central part
of your children`s -- and your own -- life.
Become an advocate for play. If we know play to be important, we need to let
our actions speak loud. Let us transform preschool rooms back into indoor playgrounds
that encourage and promote learning in a playful way. Let us open up our homes to
play and let us schedule activities around play rather than squeeze play around
our activities. Let us also acknowledge that children need us to help them get going
in their play, by providing stimulating environments and by entering in and injecting
important knowledge from the wider world. By doing so, we will be sending the message
that play is the answer to how we build happy, healthy, and intelligent children.
Einstein knew that, and -- with your help -- so will the parents in your neighborhood.
Provide the resources for stimulating play. Simply having objects to play with
appears to be an important component of later intellectual development. Why? Toys
and play materials provide the stimulus for children`s exploration. When these things
are interesting to children, children learn more from them. Toys and play materials
are also centerpieces for interaction. When toys are interesting to them, you are
more likely to see children coming together and united in a common activity. What
do we all do when we are playing together, rather than alone? We talk more, create
more, and engage more. These are the foundations for learning.
But there are several caveats. The first is that almost anything can be a toy.
You don`t have to purchase a fancy toy to reap the benefits for learning and social
interaction. Consider some of the low-cost alternatives for a change: Use blankets
and chairs to make forts and tents. Our children loved this kind of play, perhaps
because it made them feel safe and gave them a private space that they were in charge
of (for a change!). Plastic forks make great items to use to build with, and ordinary,
inexpensive white paper plates and a little string are great for making things like
masks. How about using your plastic containers and different amounts of raw rice,
beans, and split peas to make instruments? You can experiment with whether they
sound different depending on what they`re filled with and how much they are filled.
The movie Toy Story was fascinating for children because it made their toys come
alive. Stuffed animals can be characters in elaborate fantasy scenarios that you
and your child concoct together. These can be at the playground, in school, in a
car -- all sorts of scripts can be played out. Seashells collected on trips make
great toys, as do old tennis balls and old uniforms (try Goodwill stores), various
inexpensive school supplies (those colored paper clips are great fun), used paper
(ever make airplanes? or hats?), and, for the older set, coins. Sorting coins can
be great fun. The trick is to look around your environment from your child`s perspective.
Whatever it is that you are always warning your children away from is what fascinates
them. Can you figure out a way to adapt it to make it safe so they can play with
it, or can you find something like it?
Laura Berk, in her excellent book Awakening Children`s Minds, provides parents
and caregivers with three useful questions to ask themselves before buying that
next toy: "What activities will this toy inspire? What values will the activities
teach? What social rules will my children learn to follow?"
Too often we buy what our children ask for and don`t stop to think about whether
it will be good for them to have that toy.Yet we are in control, just as we control
whether the television is on or not. And we don`t have to shell out money for every
educational toy that comes along or that toy the children see advertised on television.
We`re not bad parents if our children are occasionally unhappy.
Join in the fun. Jane Brody, popular columnist for the New York Times, writes,
"Toys are best seen as tools of play . . . Toys should be used as an adjunct to
interactions between parent and caretaker, not as a substitute for an adult`s participation
in the child`s play."
Joining children in play is perhaps the hardest challenge we have to meet. We
are up for a board game or two, but we are not as good at joining in their world.
We get bored easily ourselves. If we don`t really believe that what they are doing
is important, we have a tendency to either control the scene or to opt out of their
play. Yet, whenever possible, join in rather than thinking, "Oh, good, she`s playing
alone. I can now make that call I need to make." Part of joining in requires that
you give yourself permission to be a kid again and to see the world from that point
of view. Do you remember when jumping in puddles was glorious and when you used
to take apart Oreo cookies to lick the icing out of the middle? Do it again. You`ll
find it rewarding.
Let your child take the lead. Child-directed games will pique interest and learning.
When we make play into work by controlling or limiting it, our children lose interest,
and we lose opportunities to bond and to imagine with them. We need to strive to
find the delicate balance between providing props for play and directing play in
our homes and in our classrooms. If we are going to present our children with an
art project, we need to make it one where the children determine how the end product
looks. We might find that they are capable -- when they are the leaders -- of going
well beyond what we thought was possible. A good thing to remember is that it`s
the process that counts, not the product.
Try to be a sensitive play partner -- reading your children`s signals about how
much involvement they want from you. Parents who are good at being play partners
don`t tell children what to do or constantly ask questions or hint to children about
the way to play the game.
Encourage your child to use his . One way to get your child`s
flowing is to set up a pretend play sequence and then let him take it from there.
For example, act out a visit to grandma`s house with your child, taking his lead.
Perhaps you can get him started by using chairs to represent the seats in the car
and encouraging him to drive you. You can pass all sorts of interesting things as
you go and even worry about the weather because it`s snowing. And you can have the
snowflakes look like little stars, cows, bowls -- whatever you like. A trip to the
swimming pool is another good one -- best done in the dead of winter! Swimming on
the carpet, you can spot all sorts of fish and plants and coins and other children
and family members.
One game we always used to play in our (Kathy`s) house was "Imagination Is."
We would sit together on a bed, cover our eyes, and say, "Imagination is when you`re
lying in bed, you close your eyes and open them. You`re somewhere else instead."
The children would take us to many fanciful places as we landed at the zoo, in a
jungle, on the moon, or flying in the sky. Sometimes we were giants, and sometimes
we were ants looking at the world as if we were in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. We
would have an adventure at each stop and when we wanted to journey on, it was as
easy as announcing, "Imagination is . . ." We would all cover our eyes and set out
for new, child-directed sites. Pretend play is fun not only for the children, but
also for the adults.
Evaluate your child`s structured activities. Obviously, there`s no need for you
to abandon all of the structured activities your children participate in. But when
you make choices for your children, select what looks like the most fun. Visit some
of the classes or activities and see what the children are doing. Is the place one
in which children can take a lead and show their creativity? Is it child-centered?
Are they engaged in pretend and social play? Is there a happy feeling, and are children
free to make a mess? Structure in activities is a good thing, but too much control
is not. Also ask yourself what the purpose of the activity is. It should primarily
be for fun and only secondarily for learning. The more we question our own motives
and our own choices, the more we can close the gap between what we know is good
for children and what we are actually doing with their time.
Reprinted from: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn
-- And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D.,
and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., with Diane Eyer, Ph.D. ? 2003 by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek,
Ph.D., and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D. (September 2004; $13.95US/$19.95CAN;
1-59486-068-8) Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever
books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit
their website at www.rodalestore.com.
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., is a
member of the psychology department at Temple University, where she directs the
Infant Language Laboratory and participated in one of the nation`s largest studies
of the effects of child care. The mother of three sons, she also composes and performs
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., is the H. Rodney Sharp Professor in the School
of Education at the University of Delaware, where she holds a joint appointment
with the departments of linguistics and psychology and directs the Infant Language
Project. She has also been a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship
and is the mother of a son and a daughter.
Together, the authors were featured on the PBS Human Language series and are
the authors of How Babies Talk.
Diane Eyer, Ph.D., is a member of the psychology department at Temple University
and author of Motherguilt and Mother-Infant Bonding.
For more information, please visit www.writtenvoices.com.
Bullying - Tips for Parents - By Derek Randel
Keith is now in the fourth grade and he dislikes school. For a fourth grader,
this does not sound right. The reason Keith dislikes school though does not have
anything to do with academics. Keith is being bullied before school, at school,
and on the school bus. Who can blame him for not wanting to go into that environment?
The basic definition of bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things
to have power over another person. Bullying involves crossing into one?s space without
Isn?t bullying just something that happens to all children and we?re just making
a fuss over this? The children will get over it, right? Shouldn?t we tell Keith
to grow up and handle it? Wrong. Bullying happens to numerous children and adults
shouldn?t be ignoring it.
WHAT CAN A PARENT DO?
If Keith is being bullied and he is not reporting it to his parents then there
are some very important questions to address.
? Why wouldn?t he tell his parents?
? What message have Keith?s parents sent to him about bullies?
? Does Keith?s parents have a history of dismissing what he says?
? Possibly Keith?s parents have had a habit of getting too involved in solving
Tips for parents:
? Encourage your child to report any bullying incidents to you.
? Validate your child?s feelings. It is normal for your child to feel hurt, sad,
? Ask your child how they have tried to stop the bullying. Asking questions is
a wonderful way to have your child do the thinking.
? Ask how is he going to solve this. We want the child to do the thinking before
we jump in. See how many options he can come up with.
? Coach your child in alternatives: avoidance is often an excellent strategy,
play in a different place, play a different game, stay near a supervisor, look for
new friends, join social activities outside of school. All of these things will
help in developing new friends. Have your child do activities with children from
? Talk with your child?s teacher. Make sure they are aware of what is going on.
? Encourage your child to seek help from school personnel.
? Volunteer to help supervise activities at school.
? Do not ignore your child?s reports. Ignoring them sends the wrong message.
? Do not confront the bully or the bullies? family.
? Teach your child how to defend him or herself.
? Teach self-respect.
? Give numerous positive comments to your child.
? Avoid labeling or name-calling.
? Let your child know it is okay to express their anger. There are positive and
negative ways to express anger, we want to teach and model the positive ways.
? Let your children stand up to you now and then. It makes it more likely they
will stand up to a bully.
? Stress the importance of body language.
? Teach your child to use ?I? statements.
? Teach positive self-talk.
? Teach how to use humor, ?out crazy? them. For example, if the bully says to
Keith, ?Hey, boy you?re ugly?. Keith can respond in a couple different ways:
?Thanks for sharing?
?Yes, I know, I always have been?
?Yes, today?s lunch was disgusting? THEN WALK AWAY.
? You may also want to pick up and dropped your child off at school. This way
they?re not bullied going or coming from school.
There is many other aspects of bullying to look: Why you?re the victim, why people
bully, what you can do if you?re bullied, signs your child is being bullied, what
schools should be doing, handling the school bus issues. All of these are addressed
in Make it stop ? How to handle bullying a new e-book you can receive FREE at
Derek and Gail Randel M.D. are
parent coaches and have customized programs for corporations, schools, and parent
groups for putting the fun back into parenting so you can enjoy your children. They
have a free monthly newsletter also available. They can be reached at Parent Smart
from the Heart, 1-866-89-SMART,
Children articles index
- Brains on Fire: The Multimodality of Gifted Thinkers - By Brock Eide
- laying Baby Computer Games ? The New Parent-Child Tradition? - By Emma
- Book Excerpt: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph
- Putting Fun Into Parenting - By David Stoepker, Psy.D., & Erin Brown Con
- Preparing Your Child for a High-Tech Future - By Sue Sato
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive
- Abandonment - By Sonya Green
- Explaining Suicide to Children - by Tracy Pierson
- Our Children`s Needs - by Robert Elias Najemy
- How to Develop Self-Esteem in Children - By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
- Helping Children Overcome Stress and Fear - By Debbie Milam
- Do you Shout at YOUR children? - By James Middleton
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- SPEED SPELLING: Another way to use speed reading skills for "schoolwork&q
- Children and Stress - By Laura Silva Quesada
- Boundaries- Why Are They Needed? - by Derek Randel & Gail Randel M.D.
- Juggling Home
- Explaining World tragedy to Children - By Chick Moorman and Thomas Ha
- Children and Pessimism - By Carol Tuttle
- Loving Yourself, Loving Your Children - By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
- Social Manners for Children - By Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach
- The Sexual Abuse of Children - By J. Bailey Molineux
- A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs - By Steve Edelman1,
- DYSLEXICS and A.D.D. KIDS BECOME GIFTED SPEED READERS - by George Stanc
- Using Feng Shui for Better Behaved Children - By Kathryn Weber
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- Five Keys to Raising Nonviolent Children - By Tammy Cox, LMSW
- The Best Way to Reduce Stress: Start Young - By Zach Brull
- Your Child?s Self-Esteem is in The Cards - By Susan Howson
- Calming Tips for Hyperactive Children - By Jeannine Virtue
- What is ADHD? - By Jeannine Virtue
- Talking to Your Children About Sex - By Jan Andersen
- How Our Children Really Learn And Why They Need To Play More And Memo
- HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM PREDATORS? - By Linda J Alexander,
- Teach Children Positive Self-Image Through Fitness - By Lynn Bode
- No Invitation Needed -- Part 3 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Helping Our Children Feel Good About Themselves - By Dr.Barbara Becker Hol
- Unidentified Stepfamily Zones - Discoveries Made at a Stepfamily Confer
- Divorce and Children: Things To Consider When You`re Staying Married
- Six facts you should know to empower your teaching. - By Emmanuel
- Are You in an Abusive Situation? - by Colin Gabriel Hatcher & Randall
- The Divorce Revolution Has Failed - By J. Bailey Molineux
- Is Your Child Well-Mannered? - By Mary Jesse
- Jesus` Birthday -- Part 2 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Empty Nesters: What Should You Do Once the Children Leave? - By Mary Guar
- We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults - By Robyn M
- How to Cope with Back to School Stress - By Debbie Mandel
- HIS KIDS: BECOMING A W.O.W. STEPMOTHER - by Julie Donner Andersen
- ADD / ADHD Children : Being Your Child`s Best Friend - By Kate Hufst