Think of all the different surfaces and textures you encounter every day
There is the cold, smooth feel of a saucepan; Or the hard but also giving feel of a packet of pasta. Or the way different temperatures of water feel, or frozen peas, or the squidge of a cushion
You’d be amazed how long your child can be happy playing about with some pasta shapes on a table top or the floor (you’ll need to decide whether you can cook with them later, probably not!). Or making some mud shapes and pies outdoors in a bucket or a puddle.
But also how much they can learn. Not just about how the world feels, and the different shapes. It also develops their finger and hand skills – very important for helping you cook the pasta, but also the foundation of later writing and all that comes with that!
Anything will do. If you can set up a sand or a water tray, fine. But just exploring some of the things you have around is just as good. If you can chat with them about what they feel and help them compare, then even better.
Don’t worry about mess (although do plan where and how you are going to make the mess). Your child will enjoy, and learn from, helping you tidy up and getting everyone clean again.
Keep an eye out for safety and don’t let under-5’s explore small things independently in case they try to swallow them!
Every day we make hundreds of choices without even noticing – getting out of bed, having another cup of coffee, or deciding the potatoes are probably done
What adults forget is that children need to learn to choose. Otherwise we get stuck, or flit about, or feel out of control
So today’s post is all about how to be choosy. Offer your child small choices they can manage. “Do you want apple or banana?” “Show me how much milk you want”
And look at what toys etc you have out. Is there so much it is hard for your child to choose what to do, so they keep changing? Or are they making a mess looking for the one thing they want? Can you help them say what it is, and to find it?
A great place for learning to choose is outdoors. There is so much interesting to do, to look at and to chat about. So if the day seems to be getting stuck, get the coat and wellies on and out you go!
The second thing? Preparing the snack develops those fine motor skills. Maybe they can help lay out the things, or stirring. Or have a go at cutting some fruit or veg, or opening the packet. It might take longer or need a bit of tidying up, but it pays back in learning and in being together
A bonus bit of maths
OK, a third thing! Putting out one cup for each person, or one spoon for every plate is a brilliant foundation for later maths. It’s called one-to-one correspondence and is used eventually in counting and even in algebra
It is the time of year when families are filling in the forms to enrol their children for starting school
This year it may be a little more worrying than usual.
Some parents or carers may be wondering whether their child will be ready or not, especially if they have missed time in nursery.
Nearly all children have experienced some disruption in the last year or so. P1 teachers all know this and they will be ready for the children and take the time that they need to settle in. Schools will be a bit different to usual because we will be adapting to what the children need
Meanwhile there is lots you can do to help through play, games and fun. Just as important, there are some things you really don’t need to worry about!
There are some posters below on how play and talk at home can build foundations for different kinds of learning
Nothing is required or expected, but hopefully some of these ideas will be fun and help deal with any worries you might have.
If you click the image, that will give a pdf that can be printed – and there is a link to a clearer image to view on screen too.
It is enrolment week in Highland, so an extra post today as this is not a usual year!
Starting school is an exciting time for children and for their families. It can feel like a big moment and everyone wants it to go well.
This year it might feel like a bigger step than usual. With time in nursery having been disrupted, not to mention all the other things families have had to think about in the last few months, there may be worries that children will have missed important learning and won’t be ready.
Reasons to be confident
The good news is that in Scotland, nursery and Primary 1 are part of the same Early Level in the curriculum. What this means is that there is not meant to be a big jump on starting school, and Primary 1 teachers make sure that they adapt to each child as they are when they come in.
This will be especially so this year as every child will have had a different set of experiences, and teachers will spend time to get to know them through play to work out what they need to learn.
There isn’t a list of what children have to be able to do when they start school. So if your child is not doing this or that – or if they seem ahead of your neighbours in some ways and behind in others – it does not matter.
What can families do?
But there are some things you can do to help your child’s learning and development, and these will all help in the move to school.
The main, and best thing, you can do is to set aside some time each day to play and talk with your child. Get outside when you can, enjoy some stories and follow their interests wherever this goes. If you are not sure what to do, then there are lots of activities on www.bumps2bairns to choose from – just use the tags to find something fun
On Friday, we will be posting some more detail on preparing for school including some of the things you really don’t need to do!
Social media is full of some really good resources and lists of things to do to help children learn at home. And schools and nurseries are working hard to get organised with ideas for families
This is all great!
And. As we go into another lockdown, parents and carers have a lot to think about. Many of us are a bit scared and uncertain – and if there are money or other worries too, this just adds to the stresses.
So, it is ok to do what we can do. And not worry about what we can’t manage.
Play and talk is all you need
What really matters for young children? It is “just” time to play and to chat. If you do things that everyone enjoys and can chatter about, then learning is automatically going to happen. It just will.
Of course there is a curriculum and as adults we like to have a “programme” for what we think children should be learning. But through everyday play and fun and interesting two-way conversations, young children will “cover” what they need without even trying.
A little bit every day is better than trying to do too much and getting nowhere. It may look simple to you, but to a child everything is still a wonder and something to explore and learn about. Follow their lead and you may well find yourself learning too.
So if this is for your family a time to draw together, look after each other, and just get by for a while, then that is fine too. You can take the lead from your children as to whether they are not getting enough stimulation. You’ll soon see if they are bored and need to do more.
Fun outdoors, fun indoors, sharing laughter, doing things together – children of any age will learn what they need.
School and nursery programmes and webpages of resources are there to help you, not be a burden or a standard to live up to – let them know if it is too much or not what you need.
About this website
The same goes for this site. While early learning and childcare settings are closed, we’ll be posting a daily idea for learning through play. These will (on purpose) be mostly things you might do anyway with resources you already have – but you may not know how rich they are in learning for your child. They are just ideas for if you are stuck or wondering what to do, so please pick and choose – and let us know how you get on using the comments!
Best wishes to everyone from James and the bumps2bairns.com team!
PS – if you want some of the theory and background on this, then the newest practice guidance from Scottish Government is on this link
During the first lockdown last year we posted daily ideas for how young children can learn at home through play and fun. You can find all of these on http://bumps2bairns.com by scrolling down or using the keywords at the side.
We’ll be posting some more ideas from next week – some will be “repeats” and there will be some new things too. We’ll also share some ideas on helping young children with stress and worries and what to do if you are worried about your child’s learning or development.
If your child has a lot of concerns just now, then they may like this story about Dave the Dog, or it might give you some ideas for what to talk to them about.
Meanwhile, best wishes to everyone from James and the bumps2bairns team!
Another game today that can be played outside at a safe distance of 2 metres with family or friends – or at home just with your child
It is an old favourite that is usually a lot of laughs, but there is a lot of learning too
Your child will be developing the key skill of “not doing” something – stopping ourselves doing or saying something is really hard and games like this help build your child’s control over their actions
Plus, dancing around and laughing at people (safely) falling over is really good for our wellbeing …