New research suggests that children who take part in household cleaning are more empathetic, make better connections, and are more willing to help others! Most little ones actually love to clean, especially if they have their very own tools. Plus, there’s an added bonus! It is super simple and fun to make cleaning speechy. It is the perfect opportunity to allow your child to follow directions, identify objects, sort, find items you describe, and so much more! Since spring is finally here, let’s chat about some ways that you can involve your toddler in the spring cleaning!
Follow the Cleaner
Have you ever noticed that your toddler loves to wipe up spills or sweep up a mess? This is actually a wonderful developmental milestone that we see as early as 18-months. Kids love to participate in daily routines –think: toddler see, toddler do! It’s best to set up your little one with his or her own tools and assign a job. Maybe they get to wipe the kitchen table with their special sponge and spray bottle (*with kid-safe cleaning solution of course). You can also take turns sweeping –mommy can sweep with the big broom and your tiny friend can use his or her own mini broom. You can make it even speechier by providing a challenge! You can sweep from the rug to the door; sweep to the left; spray 3 times and then wipe; and so on!
You’re probably aware by now, but your little one’s brain is developing at such a rapid speed that he or she can come up with theories and explanatory systems that we consider are way beyond his or her age’s capacity. From very early on, your baby is competent, active and insightful. Different studies suggest that babies are not simply “passive” observers but are rather building a collection of theories and knowledge that helps them navigate and understand the world around them.
Some of the explanatory theories that babies begin to construct from a very early age are:
Theory of objects – Babies understand the fundamental principles about how objects move in space and time. Every time your baby’s playing with any toy, he or she is further building on this theory understanding how the object moves and how it can be manipulated.
Theory of numbers – Babies begin forming two types of numerical systems that serve as the base for future mathematical use. One for small, exact numbers, and the other for larger quantities of numbers.
Theory of living things – Babies begin to understand the basics of this theory when they are able to distinguish between living and non-living things, or ideas like that a cut will eventually heal.
Theory of the mind – They have a pretty simple theory that what people are looking at is a sign of what they are paying attention to, that people ultimately act intentionally, and that people have feelings (positive and negative).
Theory of relation – Through exploratory play, babies learn to recognize casual relations and then use this knowledge to their advantage and solve problems like how to get a toy to work.
Babies are born scientists. They develop theories about how the world works and constantly learn through observation, exploration and their own experiments with their environment. According to a new report by The Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, babies younger than one year old have the capacity of developing complex thinking skills related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts. The trick to develop these skills is to become more intentional in the way we interact with our children.
These are some of the ways you can foster STEM thinking skills with your little one:
Have “manipulative toys” around. These allow children to transform them into something else, depending on how they play with them. For example, a rattle can be loud or soft, depending on how hard they shake it.
Engage in “repetitive play”. Repeating actions over and over, like dropping a toy and picking it up time after time, helps children learn about complex concepts like gravity and cause and effect.
Practice the “four kinds of play”. Pretend play fosters creativity and imagination; exploratory play allows children to conduct experiments about their surroundings; guided play includes interactions and learning with adults, and free play lets them take the reins.
Ask “how”, “why” and “what” questions constantly to get your little one thinking and questioning his or her experiences.
Introduce new words to your child’s vocabulary. Use advanced and accurate words to describe what you’re doing, even from a very young age.
Elizabeth Rood, director of the Center for Childhood Creativity, advices parents to not get so hung up on teaching their children. Instead, focus on having and experience with them to tap into the wonder of math, science and engineering that is all around us.
J. M. (2018, March 05). Eight ways to introduce kids to STEM at an early age. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from http://hechingerreport.org/eight-ways-introduce-young-kids-stem-early-age/
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