MEGASKILL FIVE: INITIATIVE
“What a good idea!” “You’re always thinking of something new.” Praise your child’s initiative.
Initiative starts with a good idea, but the idea is not enough. You have to do something to make things happen. Even after you hit a home run, you still have to run around the bases.
You don’t have to go outside your home to give your child a world of experiences that build interests. I tried science in the kitchen with my young children. Let me tell you, they were not the only ones learning. We watched water come to a boil. We timed how long it took to make macaroni soft. We defrosted ice cubes in the sun & in shade. We put wooden & metal spoons into hot water & then touched them, sometimes with a burning surprise. And we talked about what we were learning.
Busy fathers may think that to make up for lost time with the kids, they need to sacrifice, to do activities like going to museums or the zoo or a show. Not so. There really is great educational value in activities such as going with children to the bank & to the grocery store…or even down to the basement.
Machines: Look & Listen–ages 4-9
Use the house itself. How does it work? What are all those pipes for? Don’t forget those plumbing pipes. Kitchens make noises. Listen & name them–the refrigerator’s hum, the stove’s purr, the fan’s whoosh.
Look at a bicycle. Peek beneath the hood of the family car. Can you name the parts?
Take a good look at all the appliances at home. You might want to tackle the bigger question of where all this electricity comes from in the first place. When travelling past a power plant or a dam, you might mention that little old toaster at home.
Machines: Please touch–ages 4-9
Oh, the joy of taking things apart & maybe even putting them together again. How do flashlights work? Find out what happens when one battery is taken away or put in upside down. The beauty of flashlights is they can be made to work so easily.
If you have a small, broken machine, such as a clock or pencil sharpener, & you don’t care whether it works again, try this wonderful activity: Put the machine & some useful tools, such as a screwdriver, on a table. Allow your child to take the object apart. Stand by in case you’re needed, but do let your child try to put it back together without your help.
Water, Water Everywhere–ages 4-9
Put water into an ice tray & set it in the freezer. How long does it take to freeze? Try this with different levels of water in different sections of the tray.
Put a few ice cubes on the table. How long do they take to melt? Why are they melting? Put them in different places around the room. Do they melt faster in some places than in others?
Float an egg in both salt & fresh water. Which water holds the egg higher? Salt water is more buoyant.
Evaporation: Put some water in an open dish in a sunny place. Let your child make a mark to show the water level. Use another dish with an equal amount of water, & put this one in the shade. Which one dries first?
Hot & Cold–ages 4-9
To check on the temperature around you, use a house-&-garden thermometer. What happens when the thermometer is in the refrigerator? In the freezer? Atop the radiator? In the sun?
Light & Shadow–ages 4-9
Use a strong light bulb indoors. Try some shadow play on a dark background.
Use a mirror to catch light from the sun. Then move the mirror, throwing the light in different places around the room.
Put a teaspoon in a glass of water that is two-thirds full. Looking at it sideways, children see the “disconnected” parts of the spoon.
Plants & How they grow–ages 4-9
Using aluminum foil, cover the leaves on one side of a sun-loving plant. Keep this covering on for a week. What do the leaves look like when you take off the foil?
Let’s Get Organised: There are mornings when you wake up & you just know it’s a day to get organised. Eliminate that mess you’ve been avoiding:
Nuts & Bolts, Pins & Needles–ages 4-6
Organise the toolbox, the jewelry box, the dressers, sewing boxes, bookcase, the kitchen cupboard or refrigerator, the family linen closet or a closet in your child’s room. First talk about a good way to organise the area.
Gather & Go–ages 7-9
Teach children how to collect & organise materials. Start a project, big or little: A puppet stage, a dog house, a party, baking cookies. Talk with children about what they will need. (Young children will need your advice.)
List what you have to purchase & what is already at home. Then, with your child, collect the essentials before you start the project.
The Family Calendar–any age
Get a plain calendar with large squares for each day. Talk about the days, weeks, & months spread out before you. Start filling in the squares with special days, such as birthdays, upcoming events & appointments.
Let your child decorate the calendar. Use the calendar for generating children’s suggestions; for example, list special foods children want or ideas for places to go on family outings.
Organising for Children
Ask your children which of these ideas they’d like to try first.
Provide some kind of work space, no matter how small, for each child. This can vary from a lapboard that children use while they sit on the bed to a piece of furniture to a dropleaf shelf that is attached to the wall, if apartment regulations allow.
Try the idea of a small piece of colorful rug for a young child’s work area on the floor. This helps cut down on the tendency for children to covet the same work space, even in big rooms.
To make communal work space for young children doing artwork, put a heavy plastic tablecloth over the dining room table & an old shower curtain or newspaper beneath.
Give children a place to put their possessions. This should be an “untouchable” place. No one is to disturb these things. The children’s end of this bargain is that they have to put the things away neatly. This place could be a box or drawer that fits under a bed, or a shelf above it.
Provide pegs so that children can hang up their own clothes. Also, make sure that shelves are reachable so that children are able to put away toys when they’re finished with them.
Use what’s in the apartment. Put a piece of wood on top of a radiator (except in winter), & you have a shelf. Place a large sheet of wood or Masonite over a bathtub, & you have a good size work area. And use wall space. Hang pegboards to hold carpentry tools & toys.
Junk Day–any age
Give your child paper bags & these instructions: “Today is junk day. Go through your closet/drawers/bedroom & take out all the junk or give-aways that you want to get rid of. I pay for junk!”
Offering Without Being Asked–ages 7-12
Ask children to choose one job that they’re often asked to do: Taking out the garbage, cleaning their room, washing clothes etc. Suggest that for two days they do this task before someone asks them to do it. Talk about it. Did they get the task done before someone reminded them? Did it make them feel good? Did they offer to help others? How did they feel?