Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Can a child learn through play?

This article has been taken with permission from Rise & Shine - it first appeared on their website on 1st June 2014.

Parents are hearing more that play is good for young children. However, there remains a sense of ambivalence – How much can a child learn through play? Does the child need both play and rote learning? Is my child getting smarter or less smart by playing?

Indeed these are difficult questions to tackle. Parents are rightly concerned on how they have to prepare their young children given the increasingly competitiveness in primary school with a more demanding curriculum. If play is truly important, parents ought to understand better what play is all about! This article explores a child’s learning through play, with the help of Ms Polene Lam, Founder & Director of Gifted Academy and Gifted Learners Student Care.

What is Play

Play is active, enjoyable and at the heart of it, having fun while navigating life. There are many different types of play, for instance:

  1. Having fun running, jumping or dancing, also grouped as active play
  2. Playing indoors on board games, puzzles or play dough, broadly termed manipulative play
  3. Playing alone, e.g. activity books
  4. Playing with others, e.g. in pretend play or games that involve more players
Play and have fun!

How does playing help a child learn? After all, playing hide-and-seek is not going to help the child learn more difficult vocabulary. Herein comes the concept of Multiple Intelligence – that there are more intelligences other than being word smart or mathematical smart, but instead encompass being intelligent at interpersonal skills, motor skills, art, music and self-perceptiveness. Ms Polene Lam, who is an experienced educator, gave an example of how a toddler can learn and develop intelligences in various areas.

For example, listening to music and dancing connects the movement and sound with the inner world of feelings for toddlers. It also provides an opportunity for them to talk about feelings such as “Does this song sound happy or sad? (Intra-personal intelligence). Music and dance helps toddlers to learn about patterns, rhythm and differences in sounds, thus, expanding their imagination (Musical and Mathematical Intelligence). Dancing is also good for developing physical fitness, balance, coordination and movement abilities (kinesthetic intelligence). Finger plays and other nursery rhymes are also beneficial in developing language skills (Linguistic Intelligence).

Is Screen-time Playtime?

Children view what is play differently as the lifestyle and toys they have access to evolve. Today, play may mean playing on smartphone, tablet or video games. However, screen time is not advised for children below the age of 2 years. Too much screen time has been linked to childhood obesity, aggressive behavior, inability to concentrate and even physical issues like back and eye pain. Thus, parents should not view play for young children as providing them with an electronic device.

It might be tough not to expose children 
to electronics but this is NOT play 
(image from 123rf.com/yupiramos)

Parents’ Role in Play

Parents play an important supportive role in play. Apart from being the provider of the resources (be it toys, puzzles or driving to zoo), parents are involved during playtime. First and foremost, parents themselves have to be conscious of their own screen time; children who are being ignored by their parents who are always on the phone may themselves decide to be hooked onto their own phone and ignore their parents!

Parents can be involved by being a playmate, without being an instructor. Ms Polene explained a few practical tips for how parents can be an effective play mate:

  • Provide sufficient time for play. Children need time to explore an activity, make up a story and be with their playmates. They become frustrated if play is interrupted often. Inventing a game takes time. Parents should allow your children to play in sufficiently large blocks of time for imagination to develop and interactions to take place. 

  • Arrange for variety in play experiences. Different kinds of play lead to different kinds of learning experiences. Story books can help with concentration. Kicking a ball helps to develop coordination and motor skills. Role play provides for creativity development and social interaction.

  • Explore play with children. Children enjoy directing their own play much of the time but they also benefit and gain ideas from parents’ suggestions. For example, introduce your child to novel activities such as hopscotch or help your child build a pyramid out of building blocks. Your child will most likely enjoy your involvement as you play with them.

  • Respond to a child’s invitation to play. Say “yes” when your child asks you to play.
Say YES and go out and play with your child 
\(image from 123rf.com/Dmitriy Shironosov)

  • Help children have positive play interactions with others. Parents can help their child learn to have positive play interactions with other children by encouraging the child to engage with each other. Provide guidance if needed and help them in resolving concerns or disagreements if necessary.

Play indeed is important for children to learn and develop multiple intelligences and skills. Should parents find it hard to carve out ‘play’ time, try taking a creative and playful approach to find play in everyday’s activities instead!

*please note that pictures have been added by us to enhance the delivery of the message.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Term 4 2014 gets underway...

by TOG (The Office Gal)

Hi everyone!

Term 3 has just ended and we are starting Term 4 immediately... some updates on what's going on with our classes this term.

1) New classes - look out for new classes starting in Term 4:

  • Kallang (The Cage) on Thursday evenings (4.15pm to 5.00pm, 5.15pm to 6.00pm)
  • Kovan (Kovan Sports Centre) on Sunday afternoon (4.15pm to 5.00pm, 5.15pm to 6.00pm)
  • Bukit Timah (The Cage Sports Park) - additional class on Sunday morning at 11.15am to 12.00pm.
Term 4 is here!

2) Classes will run and end by early December, but we are not going into hibernation for the rest of December. Look out for more info on our Holiday Programmes planned for December. You can also write in and get a jump on everyone else - we had a few emails already!

3) We have been working hard and even had the Australian team in Singapore in August to train our team. We want to make sure we give our best and everyone gets to enjoy and benefit from the Ready Steady Go Kids programme. Look forward to more fun, more learning and more excitement this term.

We hope you are enrolled and Ready and Steady to Go... if you have yet to give us a try, don't wait any longer. Email us at info@readysteadygokids.com.sg or call 9855-8221 to book a trial lesson.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Developing Balance Skills in Preschool Children

by a contributor (Teresa Cheong from Lifebridges Communications)

Balancing on a low beam or one foot may look simple, but to your preschooler, it is a fundamental motor skill that needs a lot of practice to master. Effective development of locomotor skills is contingent on a child’s ability to master certain balance skills.

What are balance skills?

Good balance enables your child to control and maintain his or her body position while remaining in place or moving. Balance enables your child to hop on one foot several times or stand steadily on a moving walkway such as a travelator.

Why balance skills are important for preschool children

Balance is the fundamental motor skill underlying a preschooler’s successful participation in future physical or sports activities. Activities that require great balance: cycling, soccer, netball, gymnastics 

Being able to maintain balance gives a child confidence to enjoy complex physical movements such as dance, ballet, skating and skateboarding. 

A child must be able to master certain balance skills before progressing to locomotor skills. For example, running with a ball and stopping to kick it requires balance (stability) and hand-eye co-ordination. 

Balancing is an important skill to master

Development of balance skills by age

Balance skills develop progressively. Compare your child’s development against this checklist:

By Age One

Your child learns to stand unsupported. 

By Age Two

Your preschooler would have developed enough balance skills to:

Jump up with both feet leaving the ground 

Climb a staircase using one foot at a time while holding onto the railing 

By Age Three 

Your preschooler is able to:

Balance on one leg for five seconds

Hop on the preferred foot

Walk along a wide balance board

Pedal a tricycle

Hopping may seem simple but 
it takes some learning too 
(image from 123rf.com / Kai Chiang)

By Age Four 

Your preschooler shows improved balance skills:

Balance on one leg for a longer time (8–10 seconds)

Hop on one foot multiple times 

Steer a tricycle well

Walk part way along a narrow beam

Climb up and down the stairs with one foot on each step

By Age Five

Your preschool child is confident in using a wider range of balance skills: 

Stand on one foot for 10 seconds or more

Walk forward and backward for the length of a narrow beam 

Maintain balance on a moveable platform (e.g. travelator)

Walk on a straight line

Do heel to toe walk 

Poor balance skills impedes a child’s ability to enjoy a physically active life. Enrol your child in a preschool exercise programme that considers your child’s specific needs and abilities. You can register for a trial lesson at Ready Steady Go Kids and see if what they do is suitable for your child and you.