Monthly Archives: May 2017

Researchers studied kindergartners’ behavior and followed up 19 years later.

Here are the findings.

Every parent wants to see their kid get good grades in school. But now we know social success is just as important.

From an early age, we’re led to believe our grades and test scores are the key to everything — namely, going to college, getting a job, and finding that glittery path to lifelong happiness and prosperity.

It can be a little stressful.

But a new study shows that when children learn to interact effectively with their peers and control their emotions, it can have an enormous impact on how their adult lives take shape. And according to the study, kids should be spending more time on these skills in school.

Nope, it’s not hippie nonsense. It’s science. 

Researchers measured the social skills of 800 kindergartners in 1991. Two decades later, they looked them up to see how things turned out. 

Kindergarten teachers evaluated the kids with a portion of something called the Social Competence Scale by rating statements like “The child is good at understanding other’s feelings” on a handy “Not at all/A little/Moderately well/Well/Very well” scale.

The research team used these responses to give each kid a “social competency score,” which they then stored somewhere until each kid was 25. At that point, they gathered some basic information about the now-grown-ups and did some fancy statistical stuff to see whether their early social skills held any predictive value.

Here’s what they found.

  1. Those good test scores we covet, they still matter, but maybe not for the reasons we thought.

Traditional thinking says that if a kid gets good grades and test scores, he or she must be really smart, right? After all, there is a proven correlation between having a better GPA in high school and making more money later in life.

But what that test score doesn’t tell you is how many times a kid a) worked with a study partner to crack a tough problem, b) went to the teacher for extra help, or c) resisted the urge to watch TV instead of preparing for a test.

The researchers behind this project wrote, “Success in school involves both social-emotional and cognitive skills, because social interactions, attention, and self-control affect readiness for learning.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that while some kids may just be flat-out brilliant, most of them need more than just smarts to succeed. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt spending a little more time in school teaching kids about the social half of the equation.

  1. Skills like sharing and cooperating pay off later in life.

We know we need to look beyond GPA and state-mandated testing to figure out which kids are on the right path. That’s why the researchers zeroed in so heavily on that social competency score.

What they found probably isn’t too surprising: Kids who related well to their peers, handled their emotions better, and were good at resolving problems went on to have more successful lives.

What’s surprising is just how strong the correlation was.

An increase of a single point in social competency score showed a child would be 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma, twice as likely to graduate with a college degree, and 46% more likely to have a stable, full-time job at age 25.

  1. Social behaviors can be learned and unlearned — meaning it’s never too late to change.

The researchers called some of these pro-social behaviors like sharing and cooperating “malleable,” or changeable.

Let’s face it: Some kids are just never going to be rocket scientists. Turns out there are physical differences in our brains that make learning easier for some people than others. But settling disputes with peers? That’s something kids (and adults) can always continue to improve on.

And guess what? For a lot of kids, these behaviors come from their parents. The more you’re able to demonstrate positive social traits like warmth and empathy, the better off your kids will be.

So can we all agree to stop yelling at people when they take the parking spot we wanted?

But what does it all mean?

This study has definite limitations, which its researchers happily admit. While it did its best to control for as many environmental factors as possible, it ultimately leans pretty heavily on whether a teacher thought a kid was just “good” or “very good” at a given trait.

Still, the 19-year study paints a pretty clear picture: Pro-social behavior matters, even at a young age. And because it can be learned, it’s a great “target for prevention or intervention efforts.”

The bottom line? We need to do more than just teach kids information. We need to invest in teaching them how to relate to others and how to handle the things they’re feeling inside.

Ignoring social skills in our curricula could have huge ramifications for our kids down the road.

For full details on the study, you can read it in its entirety in the American Journal of Public Health.

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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

                                                                                                                                                  W.B. Yeats

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Positive Parenting: Megaskills 10

MEGASKILL TEN: PROBLEM SOLVING

Do your children say “I can’t” instead of “I can”? Children are not born problem solvers. They learn how.

Help them put what they know & can do into action.

Thinking is not a subject all by itself–it’s what you think about that is the subject. We need children who can begin to think about serious subjects.

Give them practice in asking & answering questions & practice in making decisions.

Ask questions that you really want answers to.

Listen to children’s answers.

Let children know how really smart they are.

Let your children ask you questions that they want answers to & take the time to respond thoughtfully.

Spur children’s inventive thinking with questions that limber up the brain. Ask how many things can be made from a paper plate. From a rubber band? From a paper clip?

Encourage children to imagine. What would happen if the automobile had not been invented?

Put a blob of ink on paper, fold it, rub & blot. Ask children to tell you all the things the blob reminds them of. Trade places & try it yourself.

Place circles or squares or triangles of various sizes on a sheet of paper. Then ask children to name & draw as many different objects as they can think of using these figures.

Help children think ahead about what they would change.

What do you want more time for?

How would you use more money?

What is a waste of time?

What makes you feel really happy?

What would you like to keep always the same?

What would you like to do tomorrow? Next week? Next month?

Involve children actively & early in decision making, especially in family decision making. They can be active participants or can just listen in. In this way they come to know, & to identify with, the process we adults go through in making up our minds.

 

Thinking & Choosing–ages 4-7

Ask your child to pretend the following things are happening:

You can’t find your key & no one is home.

You get lost on your way to a friend’s house.

You are teased on your way home from school.

Ask children to think of as many ways to solve these problems as they can. Don’t reject any ideas, even if they sound far-fetched.

After they have mulled over three or four different solutions, let them pick one way that seems best.

Ask for children’s ideas to remedy a problem they cause (not necessarily at the time when you’re upset). Examples: Mud on the floor, coats not hung up, milk left out etc.

 

Decisions Aren’t Easy–ages 9-12

Talk with your youngster about some important decisions you have made in the past. Examples: Buying a car, changing jobs, getting married. Tell about the things you considered before making these decisions. Were there good & bad consequences? Were you happy with your decisions? Would you make the same ones again?

Encourage children to become planners: What would they do if they were teachers? Fathers? Mothers?

Don’t give children decisions to make that you believe are yours alone. There is danger when children are given decisions to make that are really not theirs to make or when children are told they can make the decision & then find that their parent really didn’t mean it. Choose the real decisions that children can make & be prepared to live with their decisions.

 

Safety–Everyday Problem Solving

Children need to know that parents care about what they are doing.       Just being home doesn’t always do the job. It’s possible to be at home all the time & not have children feel that their parents care.

Children have to know the steps to take on their own to be safe.

Thinking through a problem:

  1. Children accidentally eat or drink poisons & dangerous medicines lying around the house. Many youngsters become ill & die.
  2. What can we do here at home to prevent this from happening? Let’s name a lot of ideas.

Help children recognise the warning labels on medicines & household cleaners at home.    Discuss what can be done if these products or medicines are swallowed accidentally. The labels tell us what remedies or antidotes counteract the poison.

Remind your children to take medicine only with your approval.

 

Household Danger Spots–ages 4-6

Take a walk around your home with your child. Check in each room to see that electric cords are not frayed, that throw rugs don’t slide, that old papers, rags & paints are stored properly, that sharp edges of knives & tools are covered.

Make a list of items in the house that need to be repaired.

Show children how the stove is turned off. If the stove is not to be used at all, explain why. Talk about why children should never play with matches.

Take a walk around your house. Show children how to lock & unlock all doors & at least a few windows. Point to exits to use in case of fire or other need to escape.

Let children try using all house keys. Have keys made for each family member & put these in special places for safekeeping.

Try to make your home as burglarproof as possible. Make sure there is a strong chain on the front door so that it can be opened only partially. Many parents tell children never to open the door for people they do not know.

Tell children never to enter the house after school if the door is ajar, a window is broken, or anything looks unusual. Give instructions to go to a neighbor’s or to a store, then to call Mom or Dad & wait for an adult to arrive before returning to the house.

 

Community Safety Tour–ages 4-6

Walk with your child or drive through your community. Point out the many signs you see. Which are the signs for safety? What do the other signs tell you? Examples: BUS, YIELD, WALK & CAUTION are some signs that children need to know.

Talk about safe places to go in case of danger. Examples: A neighbor’s house, a business office.

Prepare a safety kit for your child to take everywhere. It can include an identification card, a list of important telephone numbers, change for several phone calls, & perhaps enough money for bus or cab fare. Tape the kit inside your child’s lunchbox or knapsack.

 

Dealing with Strangers–any age

Give instructions to your children on how to talk to strangers on the phone, at the door & on the street.

Make up a set response to use on the phone: Example: “My mom can’t come to the phone now. May I take a message?”

Teach children how to take careful telephone messages that include the caller’s name & phone number. Buy a phone pad or make one out of scrap paper. Practice handling phone calls. Use a play phone or the real phone. Take turns being the caller & being the child at home.

Warn about accepting rides & gifts from strangers Do not assume that children know the dangers. Role play some typical situations such as, “Do you want candy?” “Can I give you a ride?”

Advise children not to carry thick wallets & to keep them out of sight. Girls who carry shoulder bags should hold on to them firmly. If youngsters are carrying large amounts of money, tell them to divide the money & to carry it in at least two places.

Talk together about at least three things to increase safety outdoors. Examples: Lock cars, keep personal items out of sight in parked cars, avoid deserted areas.

 

In Case of Fire–any age

Help your family know how to leave the house quickly & safely in case of fire.

Show children the emergency numbers for Fire, Police & Poison Control listed in the front of the telephone book. Tell children to dial “0” for the operator in case of an emergency. For children who can’t read, make a picture chart with the numbers. Buy a small fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen & a smoke alarm for your home.

Practice leaving the house quickly, using different exits. Make these sessions family affairs so that everyone will know exactly what to do in case of fire or an accident. Practice until you are sure children understand what to do. Children are much more likely to stay calm in a crisis if they feel they know what to do.

You really can’t teach safety in stages. A six-year-old needs to know as much or almost as much as a twelve-year-old.

 

Helping Children Succeed–any age

Try with your children to set up daily situations in which they succeed. Have they learned to swim? Are they able to locate a needed number in the telephone book?

Convey to children your expectations that they will start & complete the task or project. Be optimistic, & check that your children have what they need to complete what they are doing.

Provide jobs & activities they can do & will feel proud of having accomplished. These include building something needed around the house, taking care of a special corner in the garden or cooking a meal for the family.

Let your children know that you–an adult–also have needs. You need praise, encouragement, love–& criticism & put-downs hurt you, just as they hurt them.

Ideally, parents should talk to each other first before they tell children what to do.

 

 

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Something to think about

“We worry about what our child will become tomorrow that we forget that he is someone today”

Stacia Tauscher

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PICTURE MATCHING SKILLS IN TODDLERS

Parents are usually impressed to see the matching skills in their 2-year-old child. However, not many understand what all the brouhaha is about! Well, these skills are an extremely important milestone for your toddler.
You’ve been pointing out different objects to your toddler in pictures as well as real life. You’re also exhilarated when she follows suit and points out a few. But do you know the multiple benefits of these skills?
Advantages of Picture Matching Lesson Plans for Toddlers
• Improved Cognitive Skills:
What your toddler sees in a picture is just a one-dimensional image of that object. However, when she learns to match a real life object to it, she can actually make out the basic differences between the two. This, in itself, is a sure shot indicator of her cognitive skills. Sometimes, the picture of the object may be a bit different from the real deal. For instance, the cube in a photo may be red whereas the real cube may be multicoloured. But, when your toddler matches the object to the picture, she’s actually learning about categorising objects based on their various physical aspects.
• Enhanced Language Skills:
While your toddler is matching objects to pictures, you could challenge her to a matching game by showing photos that look different in colour and dimensions from the objects at hand. If he’s able to match them correctly, applaud her and then ask her why she felt that the two were a match. As she tries to explain the logic behind this, she will have to use different words to express herself. This aids in improving her vocabulary and thereby, her language skills.
• Pre-mathematical Skills:
As the matching skills in your 2-year-old child improve, she’ll start matching different looking objects of the same category to one picture. This is known as sorting, and is an important part of mathematics. The activity also helps her understand that the same category objects can have some variation. Though this might seem inconsequential to an adult, it forms the foundation for mathematical skills that will develop in her later years.
• Acts as Pre-cursor to Reading:
The game of matching pictures for toddlers helps them get acquainted to the fact that objects differ from each other in a number of ways. It also helps them identify alphabets and numbers in the later stage. Moreover, studying one-dimensional pictures works as a precursor to developing the ability to decipher printed words.

How to introduce Objects to Picture-matching Activities
Start off by choosing photos and objects that are identical. As your toddler gets used to the game, introduce a different set with slight variations in the picture from that of the real objects. During the later stage, you can introduce her to pictures and objects that belong to the same category but are otherwise completely different. The image could be of a big, red bowl with fruits whereas the object could be a plastic bowl with a few bits of cereal

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Sunbird Quote of the Month:

“Grown –ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” 

                                                                                              Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the Little Prince

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