Archive for June, 2018

Pieces of the puzzle

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

puzzles are a great learning tool for young childrenPuzzles provide educational value for children of all ages

A baby learns to recognize objects by their shape and not necessarily what position the object is in. A chair is a chair whether it is upright, lying down, or upside down-it doesn’t matter. The simple puzzles produced for younger children develop more refined and defined skills and recognition.

One of the first things a young child will learn is that it does matter which way up the pieces to fit in the hole. A typical early childhood puzzle is wooden with a picture and has spaces where the pieces fit to complete the picture. With a street scene, for example, there might be a separate car shape, bus shape, and a truck shape that complete a puzzle. These puzzles are typically robust as the first response of a child is to try to force the piece into place taking no notice of its shape. With adult guidance the young child learns to manipulate the piece until it does fit exactly.

There are several learning experiences that can be drawn from these very basic puzzles. Firstly it’s the hand eye coordination to manipulate the puzzle piece into position. To get the piece in also involves observation of the shape of the hole and the shape of the puzzle piece. At first the child deals with the problem by trial and error. The example and guidance of an adult begins to solidify the thinking process. The child starts to apply spatial awareness and mental manipulation as well as physical. This comes however, after the child has learned to put the piece in correctly through trial and error and memory.

The role of the adult at this stage is very important. The conversation about the picture, talking and demonstrating the correct method to complete it, accelerates the child’s learning process. Puzzles can create a great opportunity for increase in vocabulary, and recognition of objects and situations outside the child’s immediate world. The fact that the child learns that the piece only fits one way is in fact a pre reading skill. A letter needs to be the right way up and not backwards or upside down in a word.

These early childhood puzzles can be purchased in varying degrees of difficulty as the child’s spatial and reasoning skills become more developed. The child also learns through puzzles the recognition of color and shape with, of course, adult conversation increasing the potential of the child’s understanding and development. The green shape only fits in the green hole. This type of matching activity develops early reading skills.

At this stage it is good to introduce a new puzzle and do it with the child at first. Make this a happy social time and lots of fun. Do the puzzles with the child long enough to maintain the child’s interest and attention, but be ready to move on to another activity. Eventually when the child’s dexterity and confidence has increased, he will want to do it by himself. With praise and encouragement the child will practice until the skills become familiar. Then is the time to introduce puzzles with greater challenge.

Puzzles help develop the reasoning and deduction process of thinking. As well as skills such as spatial awareness, matching and sorting. Above all, puzzles present a great opportunity for language development and a happy social interaction with your child.

Why music education?

Monday, June 18th, 2018

music education for the whole child developmentMusic helps develop the whole child

At Young Explorers, we’ve been offering music education for more than 40 years. We believe that music is just as important as math, reading and play when developing the whole child.

Take a look at the benefits of raising a music lover, and find out how to share your love of music with your child.

Benefits of Music Education: 

  1. Enhance academic performance. Some studies have shown that kids who can play instruments receive higher SAT scores. Engaging with music involves math, science, and memory skills, as well as motor coordination.

  2. Explore other cultures. Even if your knowledge of French is limited to Frere Jacques, you realize how rhymes make it easier to speak other languages. Music also provides a window into how others live around the world.

  3. Promote teamwork. Bands and orchestras collaborate and resolve challenges. Each member waits their turn and respects the others’ contributions.
  4. Teach delayed gratification. Video games like Guitar Hero may be fun, but they don’t really teach you to play guitar. Kids who practice with a real instrument experience the rewards of perseverance.

  5. Build confidence. Racking up tangible accomplishments boosts self-esteem. Performing before a live audience can also be an early lesson in leadership and presentation abilities.

Encouraging Your Child’s Music Appreciation:

  1. Start early. Many experts think that the capacity for musical sensibility peaks between birth and age, nine so use age-appropriate methods. Your baby loves the sound of your voice, so chant while you rock them. Encourage your toddler to make noise with homemade shakers and drums.
  2. Sing together. Babies will often mimic any sound you make, while slightly older kids will enjoy silly songs. By the time they’re ready for elementary school, you can start introducing simple concepts like tempo and beat.
  3. Share activities. Keep it interesting with crafts and outings. Draw pictures of instruments to color, and check neighborhood calendars for children’s performances.

  4. Broaden their exposure. Drench your home in pleasant sounds. Play classical music and jazz on the radio. Offer sheet music and books. 

Supporting Your Child’s Music Studies:

  1. Talk with the teacher. Choose a music instructor with a warm personality who can describe their lesson plan in convincing detail. Ask them how you can assist your child, especially if you don’t know much about music yourself.

  2. Attend classes. Your child might feel more comfortable if you go with them to classes at first. Try to observe closely without distracting them from listening to the teacher.

  3. Praise effort. Let your child know you recognize their progress. Be specific about what they’re doing well, whether it’s practicing on a daily basis or playing an entire piece without hitting a single wrong note.

  4. Show enthusiasm. Show up for each performance that you possibly can. Give a big round of applause and take pictures for posterity. Help your child stay on track by engaging them in setting daily goals and figuring out activities of their own for holiday breaks and summer vacation.

  5. Make it fun. Remember that the main purpose is to help your child enjoy music, so let them decide how far they want to go. Let them know you love them just as much if they want to trade in their piano lessons for horseback riding.

Make symphonies and pop songs part of your family activities. Increasing your child’s understanding of music will enhance their performance in many arenas, and give them a source of joy and relaxation they can count on throughout their lives.