Marianne’s Early Childhood Column

  As the end of nursery school approaches, inevitably parents wonder about how their children will fare in the big next school. Have they been “prepared?” Many parents associate preparedness with academics, but social development is more essential for success. If the children have learned to renounce biting, punching, crying, whining and tattling as problem-solving techniques and have taken responsibility for negotiating their own issues verbally, peacefully, they are prepared. If they know how to self-regulate, to...

  We’ve all heard children doing it – deciding who will be the mom, the dad, the sister, the puppy. Or maybe they’re playing restaurant, with a chef, a waiter, and a hungry customer or two. Or assuming the roles of a serious but kind doctor, a sick person who needs an operation, a mom with a feverish baby. Children love to make-believe. The more they do it, the more nuanced their performances become.  What may not...

  When I wrote about Self-Regulation, I related it to a child’s ability to take on an unattractive or difficult task when necessary. What does a child do when the teacher announces clean up time? Children with a good sense of self-regulation pitch right in and begin putting things away. They deserve immediate positive attention. Another child may ignore the general command to clean up and either continue playing or just dance around the room contributing nothing....

  My last column discussed emotional self-regulation, the ability to control impulses and behave in a way appropriate to the circumstance. By developing this skill, children become more productive and socially competent.  There is a cognitive aspect to self-regulation as well, which helps children overcome their reluctance to engage in challenging school activities. Again, children initially need lots of help from adults. They need encouragement to keep trying even when the activity is difficult or unappealing.  As a...

  What is self-regulation? How do children develop it? We are told all the time how important that development is to future success in school and life.  Self-regulation may be defined as the ability to control one’s own behavior and emotions and adapt them in response to a particular situation. For young children, self-regulation begins as external control by teachers, parents, and caregivers. As the child grows, hopefully that ability to control initial impulses and respond appropriately...

  My last column described “hypothesis testing” as a mindset children need to develop to become successful learners. Hypothesis testing can be defined as learning by hands-on trial and error until understanding is acquired.  Another helpful mindset to encourage in children is risk-taking. Don’t worry. Encouraging risk-taking doesn’t mean letting your child jump off the roof, or point his skis straight downhill on his first run ever. For a young child, willingness to risk means being willing...

  Parents wonder what they can do to help their children become successful learners. There are certain “mind sets” that are important for young children to develop which will help them considerably later on. One is known as “hypothesis testing.” Children have a lot of questions about the world. Often they make a wrong assumption about why something happens. You can provide the correct explanation, but a better way is not to provide an immediate answer. Rather,...

  Some recent Moms of the Week have described their favorite part of the day as the time spent cuddling and reading bedtime stories with their children. Besides the obvious closeness of the experience, reading to children offers so many benefits. Children gain a rich vocabulary, learn that print tells the story, and most important find out that books open up exciting new worlds to them. You cannot overestimate the value of giving a child a...

  One of the best gifts parents can give their young child(ren) is a sensory table. Children learn and retain knowledge best when their senses are engaged; a sensory table offers so many opportunities for learning. You will be amazed at how centered and calm your child becomes when offered a table filled with – you name it – sand, water, cornstarch, snow (real or artificial), dirt, goop/gak, gelatin, shaving cream, bubbles, flour – the list...

  Parents are getting used to being told not to overschedule their children. Yet the enrichment classes, the sports clinics, the many after school activities offered continue to be full. Why? Some parents want to give their child an “edge,” whether it is a leg up in a sport, an ability to play brilliant chess, or to learn a new language. Others fear that their child will be bored if left with open time, and “get into...

  Most parents are aware of the importance of building confidence and self-esteem in their children. How to do it effectively? One way is to listen when they talk and then respond, to let them know you take their ideas seriously. Ask their opinions at times. Spend uninterrupted time with them to show you enjoy their company. Building self-esteem often involves a lot of “Good jobs.” We praise children for just about anything they do, from drawing...