For Practica Parents with 2 to 7 year old children:
Do you routinely ask questions like “Can you name this colour?” or “How many ducks do you see?” when you’re around your child? If the answer is yes, you may be slipping into the role of a test administrator instead of having fun as a parent! The good news is, you can turn just about any opportunity into a fun experience by taking turns with your child.
- Take turns to facilitate learning:
For example, instead of pointing to a block and asking, “Can you name this colour?”, introduce a game where the two of you take turns to add a block to a tower whilst stating the colour of every block as you place it.
Or, instead of saying: “How many ducks do you see?” introduce a game where the two of you take turns to point out things that are in groups of three (or whichever number you choose for the day)
- Introduce a ritual to teach a skill:
Instead of appearing as if out of nowhere with juice in hand after your child asked for something to drink, invite him into the kitchen. Once he is there, routinely hand him two tumblers before pouring the juice. Say: “Hand me the blue (or green, or yellow) tumbler, and I will use it to give you what you need”.
Or when snack-time comes around, routinely encourage your little one to sort pieces of food into “groups of two” or “groups of three” on a breadboard before eating his own little arrangements.
How can I extend this advice to using my Practica box in new ways?
Build towers with counters from the Math Set to create “skittles”. Then play a fun bowling game where you and your child take turns to roll a tennis ball to see how many skittles you can knock over. Encourage your child to routinely follow a ritual by counting the fallen skittles one-by-one as he stands them up again to re-set the game for the next round.
- For kids aged 20 – 40 months: Build skittles of similar height and count out loud, one-by-one, as your child re-sets them for the next round.
- For kids aged 3½ years and older: Build skittles of varying heights. Ask your child to help you count the counters in each skittle and fit a number indicator onto each of them to indicate the number of counters in that skittle. Then see who knocks over the highest number. Start off using only small numbers and gradually include higher numbers as your child’s number concept develops.
Why are these teaching strategies so effective?
The strategy of routinely following a ritual that aims at developing a specific skill is effective simply because it leads to repetition and “practice makes perfect”.
Taking turns is also an effective teaching strategy because young children exist in the moment and therefore learn through their senses and bodily experiences. Consequently, they get a much clearer idea of what is expected of them while copying someone else, as apposed to being given a set of instructions.
In other words, every time you take your turn as you play with him, you are literally modelling to him what he should be doing directly afterwards, when it’s his turn to play.
Written by Lizette van Huyssteen.