Head of Pre-Primary G Haux
How do you get a handful or a dozen or more children to co-operate, willingly and happily? While there’s no secret formula, here are some tips:
Praise is key. This is especially true if your child is not co-operative. Try to catch them when they are being good. Children repeat behaviours that get attention.
Develop predictable routines. Children co-operate in school because they know what’s expected next of them. While it would be impractical to have the same level of structure at home, the more consistent you are, the more co-operative your child is likely to be. Decide on a few routines and stick to them: Everyone gets dressed before breakfast. When we come in from outside, we wash our hands. Eventually, following these “house rules” will become second nature to your child.
Turn responsibilities into a game. If your child is expected to do something they are unsure of, try turning it into a game. Humour and games are two great tools that parents sometimes forget about in the heat of the moment. When shoes need to be put on in the morning try playing shoe store: ‘Welcome to Miss Mommy’s Shoe Store, I’ve got the perfect pair for you to try on today” and speak in an accent and they’ll love to co-operate.
Give advanced notice before transitions. If your child is reluctant to obey whenever you announce it’s time to do something else, it could be that you’re not giving enough advance notice. If you need to leave the house at 8:30 a.m., warn your children at 8:15 that they have five more minutes to play, then will have to stop to put their toys away. Set a timer so they know when the time is up.
Use sticker charts and rewards sensibly. If your children are always working for the reward, they won’t learn the real reasons for doing things—that they should pick up their toys because family members all work together. It is best to reserve rewards for limited occasions, but avoid offering them for everyday things, such as dressing themselves or brushing their teeth.
Avoid using “if” statements. Make requests in language that assumes co-operation. “If you finish putting away your crayons, we can go to the park,” suggests that perhaps your children won’t clean up their crayons. Try instead: “When you put your crayons away, we’ll go to the park.”
Encourage teamwork. Instead of swooping in to settle disputes, stand back and let them work it out. If you need to intervene tell one child they can have the toy until they hear the buzzer, and then it will be the other child’s turn.
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for you as parents as you walk the journey of encouraging your child to co-operate willingly.
GET THEM MOVING
Head of Foundation Phase L Stegen
In the previous article, the importance of physical activity in a child’s overall development and growth was discussed. Various studies have shown that the development of motor skills in a young child is vital to optimal cognitive development. This means that physical play will give your children a better chance at developing their brain and even their ability to interact with others in various ways.
As young children grow, their maturing brain and nervous system make it possible for them to control and coordinate their bodies better and better. At first, skills requiring control of large muscles in the body are developed: the young baby learns to control its head movements, and then the various other parts of the body. This type of muscle control involves gross motor skills, and includes using whole body movements, coordination and balance.
The following skills involve the use of muscles in the body, arms and legs, and can be classified as gross motor skills: walking, running, stopping, jumping, climbing, pushing and pulling wheeled toys, pedaling a bike, rolling, throwing or catching a ball and balancing.
Parents are well-positioned to encourage the development of gross motor skills in their young children. While they do need to provide their young children with the opportunity to explore their environment and to choose what they do for a large part of their day, adult-led activities will enhance their development. These activities should interest the child, so that they would want to engage. Some examples of activities involving gross motor skills are:
- Listening to action stories (where the child must act out specific movements that are included in the story)
- Singing action songs
- Playing bean-bag or ball games
- Creeping or crawling through a box or tunnel
- Rolling along a mat or down an incline
- Jumping or hopping from spot to spot
- Galloping, skipping, bending
- Obstacle courses that are aimed at the child’s level of development
An added benefit of doing activities such as the above is that the child will be interacting with its parent and ideally also with other children. Social skills such as taking turns, working in pairs or teams and following instructions and rules will be learned in the process as well.
By helping their young children to become confident learners as they explore their surroundings and interact with others at play, parents are arming their children with a host of motor, cognitive, social and language skills that will become necessary later on in life.
Sources: Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills. (2008). Physical Development. Retrieved from Welsh Assembly Government: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/15790/2/physicaldeve_Redacted.pdf
Gonzales, S. L., Alvarez, V., & Nelson, E. L. (2019, December 3). Do Gross and Fine Motor Skills Differentially Contribute to Language Outcomes? A Systematic Review. Retrieved from frontiers in Psychology: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02670/full
Swift, T. (n.d.). Promoting Physical Development. Retrieved from teach EARLY YEARS: https://www.teachearlyyears.com/learning-and-development/view/promoting-physical-development
Virtual Lab School. (n.d.). Physical Develpment: An Introduction. Retrieved from Virtual Lab School: https://www.virtuallabschool.org/preschool/physical-development/lesson-1
Head of Intermediate Phase E Gouws
Most people regard initiative as recognising and doing what needs to be done before being asked. That is true, but initiative is so much more. Initiative believes in the possibilities of opportunity; it sees opportunity where others see barriers. Initiative taps God-given inner creativity to tackle persistent problems without giving up. Initiative has nothing to do with skills or education. It is a positive spirit, an awareness, a proactive mindset. Scientific research has shown that being intelligent can help people gain around 25% of life success, while 75% of life success is attributed to personal character traits such as initiative.
Children with initiative will take their talents and multiply them, increasing their involvement in life. Such children act without being asked to and capitalise on opportunities that others pass by.
Mastering schoolwork is largely due to initiative. As the years increase, so does the homework and responsibilities as well as the need for self-motivation and self-discipline.
DEVELOPING INITIATIVE IN CHILDREN
Teach critical-thinking skills. When children have questions, do not automatically give them answers. Use the questions to improve their thinking skills, a crucial element of initiative. Turn questions around by saying something like, “What do you think you should do?”
Create an accepting environment. Many children do take initiative because they are afraid of failing, being laughed at or getting into trouble. Most children naturally like to learn, however, and want to do things. Encourage that. Give your children permission to fail, to try the impossible, to set goals and pursue them. Let them know they are unconditionally loved and accepted by God and you, no matter how the world responds.
Make time for creativity. Creative expression is essential for initiative to blossom. Take advantage of their boredom. Instead of them watching a video or playing a digital game, encourage them to draw or make crafts. This will develop their creativity instead of killing it. There is always a tree to climb, a book to read, an anthill to look for. If they need something to do, they will invent ways to do things.
Teach responsibility. Daily acts of responsibility become habits, habits that lead to initiative.
Set a good example. Model initiative by letting the children see it in action. Say out loud, “This screw is coming loose, so I’m going to get a screwdriver and tighten it” or “The light bulb went out. I’ll get another one and change it.” Let your children see you pick up a piece of paper and throw it away. Children model what they see more than what they hear.
Get involved in classroom discussions. Classroom discussions often involve bouncing ideas around or answering questions with peers who have different opinions.
Join activities, teams or sport Encourage children to get involved with their peers through activities and sport. Encourage them to put 110% into projects, homework, performances, presentations. This shows that they care about their marks.
Volunteer Volunteering is a great way for children to meet people, do some good, and sometimes learn about the hardships of others. Volunteering shows initiative. It shows that children give back and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Be proactive in school tasks The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the lack of initiative among school-going children. Children were so accustomed to the talk and chalk method of learning, that when online learning became necessary, they simply flopped. It was too different. Too self-directed. Too initiative-orientated so that some children simply lost their way. Thankfully, returning to contact classes has helped to create some familiar normality – teacher-directed learning.
Initiative is crucial for succeeding in school and can be said to be among the most important determinants of achievement in life.
Head of Senior Phase D van Straten
After recently losing a half-set final exam due to software corruption I was kindly reminded by a senior colleague of the importance of perseverance: seeing something through although it seems difficult and hard. It is a skill that we all require frequently in life – not only at work, but also at home and in our spiritual lives. It is also a skill that our children often need and we will do well by training them to acquire such an ability early in life.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary persevere refers to continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Words related to persevere include carry on, persist, hang on, follow through and knuckle down. What is obvious about all these words is that they communicate the need to exert concerted effort to get something done…and this is where most fall short: we want things done easily.
Our children require perseverance with their academic work, when doing sport, when playing a musical instrument and in their Christian walk. But how can we help them attain this ability? Although each parent should consider this question personally in order to filter ideas, there are a few generic thoughts that might be considered:
- Teach perseverance by example. Try new things and let your child see you struggle and yet keep going. Share stories of people who didn’t reach their goal the first time but tried again, maybe even multiple times.
- Provide challenging, yet age-appropriate activities not easily achieved, like building a puzzle, starting and continuing with a hobby or reading a wholesome book. Start with a smaller task that they can achieve, then build up to something a little harder.
- Give your child responsibility. Give your child a special job like feeding a pet, reading bedtime stories to their younger brother or sister or looking after a part of your garden.
- Offer praise and encouragement for your child’s strong effort. We tend to praise our children for being smart, but also remember to offer praise for completing tasks and for not giving up.
- Say things that encourage persistence:
“Look at all of your hard work.”
“Good for you, you didn’t give up.”
“The more you practice, the better you get.”
“You did that even though it wasn’t easy or fun.”
Sources: Byrnes, K. [Web:] www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/6-ways-to-teach-your-kids-persistence/news-story
Head of FET Phase J Sibeko
Consistency is one of the most important and essential concepts when it comes to effective parenting. In terms of parenting, consistency may be tied to how you connect with your child emotionally or how your family operates.
On the emotional side, consistency means purposely choosing how you are going to engage with or respond to your child, and not varying with that choice over time. Choosing to not yell and to calm yourself down before you respond to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
Consistency in terms of structure and routine provides limits and boundaries for children. These help them to organize and integrate information into their brain and gain an understanding of how the world works.
For children, the learning process involves internalizing, rehearsing, and repeating. Just like when they learn 2+2=4, children’s need to internalize, rehearse and repeat behaviours too. When parents are consistent in their reactions and consequences, children know what to expect.
Your child will be able to predict how you will react to specific situations, such as when it is time for bed. This does not mean that your children won’t push your buttons or try to see if your reaction changes. But in time, your child will come to feel safe through consistency. Children understand the world through consistency. When they are able to predict how their morning will go, they feel more secure and in turn, make better choices.
Many children are better behaved in school because of consist and clear rules. In school, when there is a rule, everyone is expected to adhere to it and this creates a safe environment.
Sources: Martin S, Forde C, Horgan D, Mages L. Decision-making by children and young people in the home: The nurture of trust, participation and independence. J Child Fam Stud. 2018;27(1):198–210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0879-1
Head of Academics A du Preez
We have been (and still are!) rollercoasting up and down the Covid waves. And then there was the looting. Shopping in KZN and Gauteng came to an abrupt stop in July. Shops were empty and burnt shells. Bread suddenly became worth queuing up for hours. We picked up the pieces and rebuilt our lives. But school carried on despite all the ups and downs and in betweens.
While educational concerns are raised about a so-called lost generation, this very generation is busy learning extremely valuable life skills. They learn to turn problems into challenges, and challenges into opportunities. They learn to cope with (and even thrive on) online schooling when contact classes are not possible. They learn to take responsibility for their studies at home and work out strategies to manage their own study time constructively. They learn self-discipline. They also learn that with a little perseverance the ‘’impossible’’ often becomes quite manageable.
This is not a time for learners to sluggishly lag behind, waiting for others to do all the thinking and the doing. Now is the time to tackle the opportunities as they arise, whether it entails distance learning or contact classes. It gives opportunities to be creative, pro-active and co-operative. It is also an opportunity to take hands and work together. There need not be a lost generation. This generation might be known for their courage and initiative. And in it all, they may also quickly see the need of a neighbour and lend a helping hand, for there might be rubble to be picked up and re-building to be done.
If we view the current situation by turning every little (or big) stumbling block into a steppingstone in front of our children’s eyes, they will soon adopt this as well. Welcome the stumbling blocks. These challenges can be brought to the Lord with our children. We can thank Him for every opportunity He brings during this time of ups and downs and in betweens.