Hello everyone, welcome to our September newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on cultivating children’s curiosities.
Topic of the month - Cultivating Children’s Curiosities
Possessing a blank slate for a mind, children continuously discover, explore, and learn about the world around them buoyed by their endless curiosity. As parents and caregivers, our role is to support their endless curiosity and guide them to develop it into a love for learning. In doing so, we ensure they are able to learn and adapt to whatever life throws at them.
And this cultivation begins in the first few years of their life where the questions never seem to stop and even their reasoning may sometimes make them sound like a sage beyond their age.
Children notice everything and ask tons of questions about their observations. While it may task even the most knowledgeable expert, this line of questioning should be welcomed and spun to encourage children to come up with their creative guesses. While some may not logically make sense, it fosters children’s ability to think out of the box.
Keeping a tradition of asking open ended questions helps children learn to think and formulate their own answers. Practising rhetorical questioning also allows children to think further about the topic and strengthen their reasoning ability.
Sometimes, letting children formulate their answers to questions can be a good insight as to how they are progressing cognitively and also adds a bit of humour to the situation. Guiding them to discover the right answer whether through questioning, demonstration, or experimentation gives them more active participation in learning and discovering the scientific truths about their surroundings.
Cultivate your child’s mind’s eye through clever storytelling. The beauty of a child’s mind is that nothing is too boring or mundane in a child’s eyes. Encourage children to ask questions as they listen to the story, to hone their active listening skills and think critically about the information they glean from stories they hear. Storytelling can help children discover and understand the complexities of human nature, natural processes, and the world around them.
Learning theory and abstract concepts is hard for a child to grasp. However, demonstrating through experimentation where they can engage with materials with their five senses and see the change as it happens can trigger their excitement to see what happens next and fuel their curiosity.
Doing things hands-on gives children a more concrete experience, knowing which factors affected which and gives them more control over the experiment. An experience wherein they are actively participating in can live longer in their memories and even serve as a spark to inspire them to do more experiments to learn about their surroundings in the future. It fuels them to be more inquisitive and curious, interested in figuring out how things work.
Curated Play-Learning Environments
Learning doesn’t always have to be cut and dried in a classroom setting. Give opportunities by curating random objects that children can manipulate to facilitate learning and foster curiosity.
From bottles of water and made-up structures that allow children to have fun figuring out the many different qualities of water to a favourite play-sensory sandbox or an easily malleable and craftable clay, curated play-learning environments let children play and explore at leisure while creating and crafting their own lesson plan.
Parents or early childhood educators are there to guide them, model, answer their questions, and most importantly, observe what and how children are learning. Curated play-learning environments help children express their creativity and curiosity by making use of the available materials to overcome a learning curve they may have in a traditional setup. It can benefit someone who has a problem drawing and can create the object more easily in clay form or someone who gets the freedom to manipulate objects and build something that has been in their imagination.
3 Activities to Cultivate Children’s Curiosities
It’s enchanting and gripping for a child’s wild imagination while also being structured to help guide a young mind in the search for the solution. Detective stories have a way of tuning a child’s mind to always be alert for any clues that may pop up. The story also helps them develop different hypotheses for possible explanations or solutions while the story is developing. Examining clues helps children identify and classify which clues best support their hypotheses and the situation. And what’s great about it is that children are allowed to explore imaginative solutions and explanations while also being bound by the story’s framework.
And as they navigate through the story, finding clues and slowly form and reform their guesses, the problem always gets solved, the bad is punished and everything is well again.
On the other side of a good detective story where parameters are set, clues (both leading and misleading) are dropped along the way, and there’s a definite solution to the story, unstructured playtime gives children a boundless free time to seek, discover and explore at their own pace. Whether it be seeking every nook and cranny within the house, redesigning a spot or reimagining it, or creating an observation spot to watch the birds and the bees, letting children create their own play can lead to learning something new that may have never come up in a strict curriculum.
The more exposed a child is to different surroundings, places, and experiences, the more inputs and insights they can gather to form an understanding of the world around them. At an age where everything is a new discovery for a child, the learnings and memories gained from early life leaves a lifelong imprint on their mind. These experiences provide them with so much new information that can help them build a better understanding of the world and unlock interests they may never have known had they followed their usual routine. While everything may seem exciting, there will definitely be something that’ll capture their curiosity more than the others and that’s a great opportunity for parents, educators and caregivers to inspire children to become lifelong learners.
0-12 month development
Infant sleep training: Gentle alternatives to “cry it out”
Author: Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.
Infants have been known to sleep at irregular intervals, requiring feeding after a few hours of sleep. However, researchers have found that there are indeed ways on how to sleep train your infant without letting them belch out their cries in the middle of the night.
In this article, find 3 ways that studies have found to be effective in training your infant to sleep independently and soundly–from bedtime fading to positive routines and slowly phasing out parental presence.
1-2 year development
The scientific reason why your toddler only loves mac and cheese
Authors: Emiko Muraki and Penny Pexman
As you transition your toddler from breastmilk to blended food and later on to solid food, you may notice they may favour sweet or salty foods. This is not due to personal preference but has roots in biology and evolution. Sweets give children a boost of energy while high concentrations of salt signal protein in food.
Find out more about what might be fueling your child’s food preferences not only in taste but also in texture and colour here.
2-3 year development
What’s Up With The Dark Circles Under Your Kid’s Eyes?
Author: Lauren Vinopal
Have you noticed dark circles under your child’s eyes? While genetics may play a role in it, if both parents do not normally have it, then there may be other reasons for those dark circles under their eyes—from genetics to lack of sleep and fluid retention.
Read on and find out health reasons for your child’s dark circles here.
3-4 year development
The truth about 'time out'
Author: Amanda Ruggeri
As your child starts to learn how to socialise and interact with peers, they’ll also start to behave inappropriately as they try to learn the difference between good and bad behaviour. As a parent, this is now the time to consider how to deal with your child’s behaviour through discipline and exploring various methods available to you.
In this article, the author explores whether “timeout” is effective in bringing a change in a child’s behaviour and how to best use it to bring said change.
4-5 year development
Research shows it’s harmful to smack your child, so what should parents do instead?
Authors: Daryl Higgins & Sophie Havighurst
Finding ways to discipline your child is tricky, especially when they choose to make tantrums at very public places. Resorting to smack as a form of discipline sometimes is the easiest and fastest way for a parent to get their child to behave. However, research shows that it only increases aggression and antisocial behaviour in children. So what can a parent do?
This article lists a good number of alternative ways to discipline a child without resorting to smacking; read it here.
Natural Father’s Day Card
Using twigs, leaves, flowers, and other natural elements children gathered from their walk in nature, have them create a natural card to give their father on their day! Gathering their own craft materials will have children exercise their gross motor skills as well as observation skills while also honing their fine motor skills and creativity in putting the card together.
How about replacing tea with a slushy? This homemade slushy recipe can be divided into two activities: creating the slushy ice base and mixing the slushy ice with juice & water to create the perfect slushy. An adult’s supervision is needed especially during transferring of the slushy ice. But children will surely enjoy measuring ingredients, adding food colouring, mixing, shaking, and of course, drinking their very own slushy!
Time to make a delicious, edible, and borax-free replacement for your slime sensory activity using kids’ favourite–chocolate. Warning: you may have to do this activity right after a snack to lessen children from munching on marshmallows. Using only 3 ingredients–marshmallows, powdered sugar and instant chocolate pudding mix, children can mix these 3 to create an edible, safe-to-eat and play with chocolate s’mores slime! Adult supervision is needed when microwaving and handling hot marshmallows fresh from the microwave though.
Teach children how plants grow from seeds by creating their own sprout house. Whether it’s chia, mung beans or wheat berries, this craft is a long-term activity that only starts with building the initial environment for seeds to grow on.
Part-craft, part-game, this activity allows children to turn learning their letters (and also numbers) into a fun game. It may need adult supervision when the cereal box needs to be cut but overall a fun and long-lasting craft activity that’ll have children learn their letters and numbers in no time.