Hello everyone, welcome to our April newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on behaviour patterns in children.
For some time now, early childhood theorists have recognised behaviour patterns in children which help explain certain behaviours and actions that can be confusing to families. Known as Schemas, we break them down so you can recognise them in your own child, and offer suggestions of toys or resources that fit the behaviour.
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Topic of the month
Behaviour Patterns… what all families need to know! Author: Brooke James
Why do children do things? Have you ever seen a child create a beautiful piece of art, then completely ruin it by covering it entirely in scribble or paint? Have you ever gifted a child with a present, then watch them show more interest in the packaging or the box than the present itself?
These patterns of repeatable behaviour which can be noticed in children’s play are called Schemas, and they can provide an explanation or a genuine “Ah-ha” moment for families. Why does my child always line their toys up? Why do they smash every tower of blocks they build? A useful tool to have when your child becomes fixed on things. A little understanding can help you feel less frustrated when you know there’s the reasoning behind it.
By recognising the patterns of behaviour within individual children, families can plan experiences to support their child’s interests and learning. And, the best part…? They don’t need to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming!
Here’s a run-down of different Schemas your child may experience:
The natural urge to move things from one place to another.
Children will be fascinated with moving objects - and themselves - from place to place in this behaviour pattern. Your child might enjoy moving items from one area to another, perhaps they also like the movement of themselves.
You may see the pushing and pulling of objects, carrying resources from one spot to another in jars, buckets or bowls. Pushing themselves or their friends around in ride-on vehicles, prams, or similar.
If your child displays an interest in Transporting:
Support children with this schema by providing opportunities to carry items from A to B. For example, a selection of buckets, bags, trailers, wheelbarrows, bikes, backpacks, dump trucks and push toys to fill and transport a variety of items.
Provide an array of blocks, loose parts like colourful glass beads and paddle pop sticks. Natural resources, like pebbles & twigs, that your child can transport using their chosen mode.
Use pasta, rice, and lentils for messy play activities, with jars or containers to transport them.
Offer waterplay or bathtime with a variety of containers to move the water from one container to another.
In this behaviour pattern, children often enjoy being enclosed, climbing into small spaces such as boxes, drawers or cubby houses. They may enjoy draping sheets over themselves, or wrapping themselves up in things like blankets, or wrapping their toys up instead. Peek-a-boo is a classic example of Enveloping, which starts with younger babies.
If your child displays an interest in Enveloping:
Provide your child with boxes of various sizes to play with. Large boxes, for them to climb and hide inside. Medium boxes to sit in - perhaps with a selection of “ stuffed friends”. Smaller boxes where objects can be placed, stored and retrieved.
Offer opportunities for your child to build cubby houses or hideaways underneath tables and chairs - with blankets or rugs.
Have a variety of textiles on hand in a selection of sizes. Things like scarves, play silks, or baby swaddles, which they may choose to wrap themselves up in or play peek-a-boo games with.
Include things like envelopes and pieces of paper to use in smaller boxes as mail, tickets, money, etc
Supply a selection of imaginative play items, such as clothing, hats and accessories for dressing-up and layering. Enjoyment can even come from wrapping small objects up in paper, pieces of material, plant leaves or similar. Include items like tape or rope to assist this.
Children are exploring how things join together and separate.
Children in this behaviour pattern are fascinated by joining or linking objects together, constructing things, or destructing things. Examples of this may include, lining up toys or household items in a row. Taking lids on and off jars, containers, lunch boxes, and anything else available to them. Your child might explore how objects connect together, such as train tracks, Lego, blocks, or magnetic tiles. They may love wrapping string or tape around various objects, or they may experiment and find ways to connect items together, like sticks or other found objects, making “inventions”. Unfortunately, an interest in this particular schema can also mean the same level of interest in taking the same resources apart. This can be viewed as destructive - such as knocking over towers of building blocks that other children have painstakingly created.
If your child displays an interest in Connecting…
Provide creative activities such as sticking, weaving or wrapping.
Make necklaces with macaroni and string, or arm your child with craft items like sticky tape, string, boxes or card, to stick together.
Supply items that can flow through other objects. For example, sand or water poured through tubes that have been connected together. PVC tubing is great for pouring both sand and water through (along with many other things!). It’s available at hardware stores and is fairly inexpensive.
‘Loose part’ objects that are found around the house or garden may seem like rubbish to an adult but can be a child’s most treasured resource. Anything. From sticks to a garden hose nozzle, or even an empty milk crate, can all be seen as valuable to a child. Add some string, rope, or tape to attach the selected items together - or pull them apart - at their discretion.
You could also supply a variety of objects such as cars, clothes pegs or building blocks to line up.
Trajectory Children are interested in how things move and respond.
Children fascinated with this behaviour pattern will enjoy the movement of objects, or themselves, in vertical, horizontal or diagonal directions. Throwing and dropping is a common movement, and they may become excited watching objects fall from their highchair (sometimes over and over!).
Children may climb, then jump from, your lounge, the chairs, or your dining table. They might enjoy watching machinery that moves, like cars, fans or washing machines. They’ll likely be fascinated with running water, and want to investigate it. The simple enjoyment of seeing objects moving.
If your child displays an interest in Trajectory:
Offer children in this behaviour pattern time each day with lots of space and areas that they can experiment with heights and climbing. Like the local park. Climb a small hill, the steps, or the slide.
Make some woollen pom-poms or small hand-held bean bags to be used to throw inside. Rice inside a deflated balloon is a simple version of a bean bag.
Go outside and throw balls or sticks, suggest races like sprinting, bunny hopping to see how fast they can go, or set-up a simple gross-motor course with opportunities for jumping.
Make paper aeroplanes and race them, or make ramps using blocks - or anything you can place on a diagonal - to race cars down.
Provide bath time funnels for water to flow through, or let your child sit in the empty bath as it fills, and enjoy the sensation and force of the running water.
Rotational Children show fascination with things that rotate.
When in this behaviour pattern, children relish everything that winds or unwinds. A child interested in Rotation may enjoy exploring everything that turns, including their own bodies. You may see children rolling across the floor, or down hills. Running in circles, twirling around until they fall over. They have a fascination with wheels, so are often turning door handles and taps, spinning wheels.
If your child displays an interest in Rotation:
Provide a variety of toys that have wheels, like trolleys, bikes, scooters, diggers, lawnmowers, etc. Smaller vehicles to push and play with, and larger vehicles to ride on.
Use bath toys that spin around, like water cogs, or similar toys for a water play trough.
It could be as simple as watching the washing machine spinning endlessly, or allowing your child to turn the taps on and off under your supervision.
Cooking activities are great as they offer opportunities for stirring, whisking, mixing, blending, rolling.
Dancing with ribbons and scarves allows big twirling movements and lots of fun spinning action.
Busy boards that have dials and knobs which turn, spinning tops, kaleidoscopes and hoola hoops.
Positioning Children will be interested in placing objects in lines, positions or rows.
Children in a positioning behaviour pattern are focused on the way things look and feel as they’re positioned in different ways. They’re experimenting with order - placing toys or objects in lines, or in specific places. They may spend time arranging their things in a certain way, which might mean they refuse to complete a task or leave the house without their items “perfect”. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the food on your child’s plate must be in specific places, not mixed together or touching?
If your child displays an interest in Positioning:
Use the tin cans in your pantry for your child to stack on top of one another.
Offer threading activities, like some shoelaces and a selection of wooden beads with holes through the centre. If your child is a little older cut out a basic shape from cardboard, like a circle or heart. Use a hole punch to punch holes evenly around the edge, and provide some colourful wool to thread through the holes (*tip - tape the edge of the wool to prevent fraying).
Supply loose parts like coloured beads that can be sorted into different colours, or seashells & gumnuts that can be placed in rows or lines.
Collect some objects, like pebbles or stones of various sizes, that can be ordered into size categories - large, medium, small.
The versatility of building blocks is always great for stacking, lining-up or sorting.
All about experiencing our world from all angles and varying points of view.
Everyone has at one point been through the orientation behaviour pattern. As adults, we basically all know what it feels like to hang upside down from a set of monkey bars. While some people never outgrow this urge - those that enjoy things like sky-diving - most of us remember the feeling and don’t need to practice it regularly. You’ll know your child is in this pattern if they’re tunnelling underneath the table one minute, and then clambering on top of it the next.
If your child displays an interest in Orientation:
This behaviour pattern requires limited resources but instead involves getting out to the park, using climbing frames, doing simple yoga moves - allowing your child to experience the world from different angles - safely. Let your child climb on furniture of different heights and levels, dangle off the lounge with a pillow underneath, or hang upside down, supervised, from the lower branches of a tree!
Children are learning about placing objects within objects and looking at volume and capacity.
A physical behaviour pattern where children are focused on learning about containing or enclosing themselves within different sized spaces. This is displayed if your child demonstrates the urge to fill up cups with water, is often found climbing into cardboard boxes or kitchen draws, building fences for the animals or is seen putting all the animals inside the circular train track.
If your child displays an interest in Containment/Enclosing:
Support children with this schema by offering a rotating selection loose parts, for example, baby food or squeezy yoghurt lids (they have built-in spaces to avoid choking hazards), pebbles or glass beads for children who aren’t tempted to pop smaller items into their mouths. Pegs, wooden tree slices, etc.
Provide shape-sorters. Tupperware’s red and blue version has been popular for decades, but many clever options are on the market.
Include a tee-pee with a selection of pillows to place in and out, or a tunnel to climb through.
Allow access to containers, jars, saucepans & pots. Any container that can be fit inside another container.
To the containers, you can add pasta, rice, or sand for messy play activities where your child can to tip from one space to another
Offer jugs or measuring cups to pour water into at bathtime or for water play.
Transforming Children are learning about cause and effect.
Children that enjoy this behaviour pattern love seeing how things change. They’re enjoying science.
Your child may delight in seeing what substances can do to one another… mixing their juice with their pie on their lunch tray, watching ice melt in a glass, seeing rain trickle down a window. Anything that causes a reaction to happen will be of excitement and fascination. The Transforming urge can come in many forms; holding all your food in your mouth for a long time to see what it turns into, water with dirt, or helping Granny with mixing the bread dough.
If your child displays an interest in Transforming:
To support this behaviour pattern in your child, provide things like basic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) or science experiments, or cooking activities involving blending and mixing ingredients. Examples are,
Erupting volcanoes - which involve bicarb with vinegar poured on top
Fizzing eggs - freeze chunks of ice (a deflated balloon will provide the egg shape). Add some dinosaurs or toy animals inside for effect, then melt the ice using squeezy sauce bottles filled with warm water and vinegar.
Milk with food colouring - See the colour changing, and then “paint” with it. Blend smoothies, Baking a cake, Make play-dough.
Allow your child to enjoy the outdoors. Getting wet in the rain, make mud pies. Subscription science kits that arrive on a regular basis (monthly?) are great as your child grows older.
Do children outgrow - or move between - these behaviour patterns?
Throughout early childhood, children enter in and out of behaviour patterns as they continue to grow and develop. It’s therefore important for families to understand the concept of these developmental “urges”, so you know which kind of toys, objects and resources to offer at any particular time, encouraging the natural course of exploration and learning. Sometimes they’ll be seen as 'inappropriate behaviour' such as throwing objects indoors.
Recognising your child’s developmental “urge” means you can redirect it if need be. Your child will be just as happy throwing a ball outside where it’s safe. It's about the urge, not the action, so if the action is dangerous or not appropriate then simply find a more suitable outlet. Therefore fulfilling the urge in an acceptable way.
Armed with this knowledge, be confident that you’ll be able to recognise and provide the best opportunities for your child’s development, and offer them the best tools available to you… even if that’s just a selection of pots and pans from your kitchen cupboard!
If you’d likefurther information on Schemas, The Hidden Gem, an Educator and a mum, really breaks down the concept on her YouTube summary. Some of the questions asked by other parents may even ring true for you.
0-12 month development
How to Make Baby Food at Home
Author: Katherine Lagomarsino
Homemade baby food is a money-saving and eco-friendly alternative to the store-bought variety. It also allows you to control exactly what enters your children’s mouths, making you responsible for their nutrition.
Making baby food can be as simple as mashing up a banana with a fork, but that is not what we are talking about. This article is for those looking to make their own homemade puree, formulated to provide their little ones with a balanced, fresh diet.
Many parents would love the ability to constantly keep an eye on their toddlers. However, this is simply not possible as no parents have eyes on the back of their heads..
This is exactly what makes electronically tagging toddlers so attractive. It allows you to easily keep track of your children from your phone. Imagine your little one ever goes running off at the mall, nowhere to be seen. Simply take out your phone to find to track him/her in real-time.
However, GPS tracking does raise serious privacy issues. Although toddlers don’t have much to hide, it could be a good idea to discuss this device with your child. If your children know you are able to track them, the act is not a breach of trust.
An iPad playing your child’s favourite television show will act as an incredibly effective pacifier. However, the benefits of this calming method are short-lived. It rewards outbursts, rather than teaching children how to deal with their emotions.
Behavioural science suggests that you “be a mirror” for your child. This entails listening to your child’s feelings before paraphrasing it back to them and offering encouragement as well as advice.
Paraphrasing your child’s feelings will make him/her feel acknowledged, while advice and encouragement will empower your child to deal with their issues independently.
On the other hand, yoga teaches one to breathe deeply into your belly when feeling overwhelmed with emotion. Deep belly breathing triggers a part of the nervous system which helps one remain calm.
Read on to learn about five other calming methods.
3-4 year development
When does encouragement become pressure?
Author: Kylie Orr
As a parent, it is your job to encourage your children to make the most of life, to make the most of every opportunity, to follow their dreams, and to reach their potential. However, too much encouragement quickly becomes negative pressure.
Pressure has an unfortunate side effect of alienating children. Parents who heap too much pressure on their children suck the joy out of any activity, often ruining a child’s favourite sport or pastime.
On the other hand, in some circumstances, pressure is unavoidable. Some children simply don’t want to go to school or learn to swim, no matter how much you encourage them. In such cases, when safety or education is on the line, pressure can be a necessary last resort.
Read on here for an in-depth look at how to encourage effectively, without heaping pressure on your child.
4-5 year development
The Dos And Don’ts Of Dropping Off Your Kid, According To A Preschool Teacher
Author: Tom Robinson
Does your child make a fuss when you drop them off at daycare, preschool or kindy? This happens across Australia every day, but is completely avoidable if separation happens properly.
First off, don’t sneak away when your child is not looking. Make sure you say goodbye, letting them know you will leave. Sneaking away will reinforce your child’s fear of abandonment, making the problem worse.
The amount of time a child spends in tears is also said to be directly proportional to the amount of time their parents spend lingering. It is extremely difficult for a parent to leave their child in tears, but if the separation is done right, this problem will soon fade away.
How to Potty Train Boys to Pee Standing Up (Without the Mess)
Author: Patrick A. Coleman
While most potty training entails teaching kids to recognize urgency, control muscles, and make decisions about when to go to the toilet, boys also need to learn to aim.
An easy, short-term solution is to teach your young boy to pee sitting down. However, this is often met with resistance, simply because boys want to pee like their dads. Ultimately, your son will want to do his business standing at some point, so why would you delay the training.
The first tip involves shortening the range. Bringing the potty or toilet closer simply makes aiming easier. And if that doesn’t work, you could take the training outdoors. This does not make aiming easier but takes the pressure off while your little guy gets to grips with his stream.
As a parent, you will stop at nothing to protect your daughter, doing anything and everything in your power to keep your little girl safe. However, despite the best intentions, some protective instincts can drive parents to intervene unnecessarily.
It is important to understand when your girl needs you to actively intervene and provide tangible forms of help, verses when you should stand back and let her solve problems herself.
This is an extremely challenging task for many parents and unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for you to fall back on. However, really listening to your daughter’s concerns without jumping to conclusions is a great start.
Repurpose old coasters to make geometric string art. Keep it simple, or go all out with multi-coloured string, beads, and glitter. This simple craft is appropriate for all age levels, as long as your children are comfortable using scissors.
Teach your children to protect and appreciate the environment through this innovative activity. Recycle a plastic water bottle to create a small pot plant. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce or reinforce ideas of recycling and minimising the use of single-use plastic.
Work with colourful beads to create useful art in the form of Lizard keychains. You can attach your child’s art to your keyring or their school bag. This more complex craft is suitable for slightly older children, who possess the ability to thread a bead and follow instructions.
This simple print-out craft is the easiest of the bunch. Just print the image, colour it in and fold as instructed. The fish’s moving mouth is a really neat touch! Although it requires little effort from parents, this interactive craft will keep the little ones entertained for a few hours.