How play is good for your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 03:45pm
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When children play, they are practicing skills in every area of development: thinking, solving problems, talking, moving, sensing, cooperating and making moral judgments. This natural form of learning is very similar to the real world, because instead of learning one thing at a time, children have to learn - and use - several ideas and objects all at once. Playing is also fun - it makes children happy, and leads to easier and more effective learning.

You may have already noticed that in your child's early years, she explored or played by doing the same thing over and over again. This repeated practice helps learning and builds confidence. Children learn what objects are like, and what they can do with them. They are beginning to make sense of their world.

As your child is growing, he will begin to add make-believe to his play. When children pretend, they are showing what they know. For example, when they put a block to their ear and say "Hello," children are showing that an object can be a make-believe telephone, and that a telephone is used for talking to people. When children build a castle or an airport, they have to think about their goal, and figure out how to make the castle or airport. That involves being creative and solving problems.

In pretend play, children are making sense of the world, trying out things they've learned and seen, and thinking about their feelings. They sort out fantasy and reality. You can tell a lot about what your child is feeling and thinking just by watching her play.

Around the time your child begins school, games with rules become part of play. Games encourage children to use strategy, logic and moral judgments to follow the rules. Board games like Snakes and Ladders, card games and team sports are all games with rules that help children learn to take turns, negotiate, problem-solve and get along with others.

VIdeo Alert!
Watch our Preschooler Creative Play, Active Play and Comfort, Play & Teach Playtime videos to learn how to incorporate Comfort, Play & Teach into the playtime you spend with your preschooler.

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Help! My preschooler is jealous of the new baby!

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 03:44pm
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Having a new baby fit into the family when you already have an older child - or children - is quite an adjustment for everyone. A young child, in particular, can feel rejected because you need to spend so much time with the baby. Toddlers may react in some harsh ways, like wanting you to send the baby back to the hospital, or inadvertently hurting the newborn. Or they may temporarily act younger, by having toilet accidents or demanding to eat like the baby, to get your attention.

With children who are five or older, jealousy can show itself subtly, like cuddling too hard or blaming the baby for accidents. But they may not get too upset at the birth of a new baby. Often they start to act like a big brother or sister. Your child may feel quite possessive about the baby, and want to help change or feed her new sibling.

It's important to let your child know you understand that he doesn't always feel loving toward the new baby. Let your child say he is sad or angry, help him be a helpful older sibling. Read stories about families with new babies and talk together about how the older child felt in the story.  Make some time for just yourself and your older child every day; even ten uninterrupted minutes will make a difference.

Be aware that jealousy may also appear when your baby moves to a new stage. For example, your older child may be quite generous with the new baby until your baby learns to walk. Now that your baby is walking, she can interrupt your older child's play, discover his toys, break or scatter them and take over his friends. As your baby learns to talk, she becomes able to challenge your older child. This will trigger jealousy, where previously it was not a problem.


How did your preschooler react to the new baby? Was there jealousy? How did you cope? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!


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Long trips and your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:02pm
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A long car ride can be stressful but it is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to enjoy each other's company. Capitalize on this time to laugh and play games. This will not only make a tedious journey more entertaining but you will also get a better understanding of how your child is thinking and what is important to her.

When you let your child take the lead in suggesting or inventing her own play activities you are sending an important message. Following rather than always directing tells her that you like and respect her ideas. This will encourage her to continue thinking and making more decisions. Here are some ideas for interactive play for you and your child during the drive:

  • Guessing games – these games encourage young children to observe and think about how objects function in their environment as well as give practice in language. You start off the game but then let your child take the lead so that you have to guess what's in her mind. Some examples include:
    • "I Spy with My Little Eye – something that is blue"
    • "I'm thinking of something that starts with the letter 'A' "
    • "I'm a spoon – what am I used for?"
  • Storytelling – listening to a story without a picture book takes a lot of concentration and imagination. Create your own story together by starting off with "Once upon a time there was a girl who…." Invite your child to add a sentence to the story. Respond with a new sentence and keep this pattern going until your child has had enough of story creating.
  • Creating silly rhymes – use the "phonic families" to devise funny sentences, e.g. the cat sat on a hat looking for a bat; the goat put on his coat and swam to the boat which wouldn't float.
  • Counting – understanding the concepts of numbers takes a lot of concrete practice. Ask how many cars of a particular colour can she count? Let her choose the colour and help her when she gets lost with the sequence of numbers; ask your child what else she would like to count as she is looking out the window.
  • Reading signs – point out common signs that your preschooler may be aware of and beginning to recognize such as "Stop" or "Exit"
  • Singing songs – encourage your child to pick her favourite tunes and sing together. Also, bring favourite tapes to listen to in the car.
  • Talking – seize this opportunity to have a conversation about things that you don't always have time for, e.g. who she likes to play with at school/child care; what is her favourite thing to do during the day at school/child care; what was something funny that happened this week? The topics are endless and allow your child to give you a glimpse into her life.


What do you do on long trips with your child? Are there games that we haven’t mentioned that your child likes to play while travelling? Share your stories below!


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Educational computer games and young children

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 02:17pm
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Research shows that educational computer games can help your child learn certain skills, like recognizing the letters of the alphabet or learning to read aloud. But finding high-quality educational software can be tricky.

New games are coming out all the time and there are no universal standards to ensure quality. Many of these games can help encourage your child's reading or language development. But not all of them will provide your child with the educational benefits they claim.

A good place to start when you're looking for appropriate games is a store that sells high-quality educational supplies. To find a store near you, ask a local teacher. Librarians, especially school librarians, can also help guide you in the right direction. They may even be able to provide you with a list of recommended titles.

Here are some tips to help you and your child make the most of educational computer games:

  • Many software packages allow you to set the game's level of difficulty. You can get a sense of what level your child is ready for if you play the game together the first few times.
  • Encourage your child to work through the game at his own pace.
  • Be there to help your child with some of the game's more challenging features and give her encouragement when needed.
  • Be available to help your child navigate through the game and answer any questions he may have.

Remember, it's important to be aware of what your child is doing on the computer. It's also a good idea to set time limits on game-playing (10 to 30 minutes at a time) so your child gets the chance to enjoy a variety of other fun and educational activities as well.


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