How do kids learn and develop best?
Yes, you guessed it. Through play!
Play is an essential part of life, for kids and even for adults. Play is critically important for development in early childhood.
Besides the obvious developmental skills that you learn through play, some other benefits include:
Play teaches problem-solving, builds self-esteem, teaches collaboration, allows emotions to be experienced and released, encourages planning and develops language.
Kids have a sense of wonder about everything, they ask endless questions, they love stories, they love to collect things, they practise a skill over and over again and they aren’t afraid to take risks. We as parents should embrace this sense of wonder by playing along with our kids and take interest in even the littlest of things that intrigue our kids.
Do you remember the things that intrigued you as a kid?
I remember how we made a mud bath in the backyard, playing for hours, building bridges with twigs and using bottle tops for little boats. I remember making a hole on either side of an egg and blowing out the egg white and yolk to create a humpty dumpty toy for my dollhouse. I remember growing my own rock candy sugar crystals and not wanting to eat it because it was too pretty.
Without realising it, kids make an effort in developing their superskills. Embrace it, take part in it and encourage it!
There are five superskills kids need to practise to thrive:
Gross motor skills are physical, whole body movements. Large muscles are used to perform gross motor functions. Think of running, jumping, doing a cartwheel and sitting upright at the dining room table.
Encourage your kids to practice gross motor skills by giving them the opportunity to be outside. Yup! Less screen time! Go to a park and play tag with your kids, climb on the jungle gym, jump on a trampoline and see if you can still do a cartwheel (Gosh, I think I will strain a muscle!).
Fine motor skills involve smaller movements in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. We use fine motor skills every day; while buttoning our clothes, eating with a knife and fork, cutting with scissors, using our keyboard or typing on our phones (we sure have perfected those iPhone fine motor movements, hey?). We use fine motor skills even when we blink.
For younger kids, you could use kitchen utensils such as tongs, and create a game to pick up small objects, such as grapes, cotton balls or bottle caps and allow them to cut with scissors (under supervision).
Executive function is the CEO of your brain - it is in charge of making sure you complete a task, from the stage where you have the idea, through to planning and execution.
Executive function skills are developed at different stages of your life. The most important elements of executive function consist of:
As you can see, executive function is extremely important for all aspects of life, from making a sandwich, to packing your bag and picking priorities for the day.
If you have underdeveloped executive function then you may come across as disorganized. For children, that may mean that homework could become a nightmare.
So how do we develop and improve executive function?
Do these improvement tips sound like tips a working adult needs as well? I told you the executive function is the CEO of your brain! Let me take a break and go for a run…
Allright, I am back!
We all have a desire to feel connected, valued, to have a sense of belonging and to feel safe.
Being human not only involves caring for your family and friends but also for our environment. As humans we interact with others (whether we like to or not) and mastering the art of self-regulation is very important.
Self-regulation is the ability to manage and regulate one’s emotions and behaviour. Recognising one’s own feelings, recognising the feelings of others and controlling behaviour by communicating feelings and managing impulses.
This is a big one, folks! We are all social beings and social skills and self-regulation is critical for success in life and general happiness.
How can we practise this with our kids?
Now that we understand the importance of social skills and self-regulation we will explore how we can teach our kids how to communicate their ideas and feelings.
How do we develop speech and reading skills?
Talking, reading and singing will also develop pronunciation and articulation.
Use computers and screens sparingly. TVs and screens do not interact with kids and do not respond to kids' ideas. There is no shortcut.
We use our senses to interact with the world around us on a daily basis. From smelling freshly cut grass, to chatting to the delivery guy or a family member about our day.
We also use our senses as a safety mechanism, for example when lightly touching the handles of a pot on the stove, we receive sensory input, identify that it is safe and then respond by picking it up.
For most adults this is a natural process, but for many younger kids sensory processing may still be underdeveloped.
What can we do to improve sensory awareness?
You can incorporate all of these super skills by becoming a child again with your kids - play, laugh and learn!
I hope this post was valuable to you. We’d love to hear how you practise superskills with your kids in the comments below.
Need project ideas to develop the 5 superskills at home? Click here to grab one of our free lesson plans!