Engaging Young Minds: A Challenge
FOR A CHILD, BEING HAPPY IS SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING ACTIVE. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO UNDERSTAND THIS TO ENGAGE A CHILD PRODUCTIVELY.
Have you ever thought how it feels being a child? If we perceive the world from a child’s perspective, it’s no better than a prison. They are always told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They can’t choose their environment or the people they live with, but they are still very much open to exploring! For a child, being happy is synonymous with being active. Listed below are a few ways of engaging kids minds’ productively.
Instead of making them do multiple activities in a single day, give your children opportunities to play on their own.
• You may promote their creativity by setting up a play kitchen, a building corner, and a dress-up area.
• You may even consider getting an indoor tent or rigging one yourself and allow them to explore their areas of interest. Kids like to play ‘hide-and-seek’ and even a bed sheet placed over a piece of furniture can become a hiding place for them.
• Make sure your child also gets some outdoor time and runs around the playground.
TAKE CUES FROM YOUR CHILD
“Feel free to join in your child’s imaginative play, but follow their lead. If they are pretending to be a dog, you might say, ‘I’m your friend, the elephant.’ However, if they are not enjoying your company, move out. Some toddlers use dramatic play as a soothing tool and don’t want anyone else’s company,” says Frances Stott, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the Erikson Institute Chicago, a graduate school specialising in child development.
BOOKS TICK THE IMAGINATION
Books are excellent fodder for your child’s pretend play. Not only do they introduce them to new characters and situations, but they also teach him/her how a narrative is structured. Ask open-ended questions to your child when you read to them, such as ‘how do you think the princess is feeling now?’ or ‘what do you think will happen next?’ etc.
STOCK UP ON ART SUPPLIES
Drawing, painting, and sculpting are great ways to enter the make-believe world. Keep markers and paints within easy reach of children, and enable them to express their imagination through art. You may even write a story and have them illustrate it, or use clay to mould a figure that resembles their favourite character.
SCRIBBLING: HOW IT HELPS
Scribbling is essential for the development of hand-and-finger control, overall dexterity and for hand-eye coordination skills in children. It also encourages imagination and independent thinking skills. Scribbling basic shapes enables young learners to write and draw as a mode of communication. It also helps them communicate emotions that they might otherwise find difficult to express.
RHYMES: THE RHYTHM OF A CHILD’S LIFE
Sadly, today nursery rhymes are being relegated to the background because parents want their child to jump right into science- and maths-based learning activities. While some of these are undoubtedly important, the importance of rhymes for pre-primary children should not be underestimated. Phonological awareness is an important precursor to reading. Awareness of phonemes fosters a child’s ability to hear and blend sounds, encode and decode words, and spell phonetically.
Rhyming skills make it easier for children to learn the sequences of letters, especially the sequences shared by rhyming words. It also enhances phonological sensitivity (rhyme and phoneme detection) in general, which, in turn, enhances reading skills. There is a powerful and lasting connection between a child’s early knowledge of nursery rhymes and aspects of their linguistic development later on.
STORIES CAN TEACH A LOT
Teachers can also use storytelling as a tool to effectively engage toddlers.
• Instils Virtues in Your Child:
By narrating stories that convey a meaningful message or imparts a moral value, you can definitely inculcate qualities such as wisdom, courage, honesty, etc. from an early age in your little ones.
• Enhances Verbal Proficiency:
This is also a great way to teach new words and pronunciation to children on a regular basis.
• Improves Listening Skills:
Storytelling not only makes children more attentive but also enhances their listening and understanding skills.
• Encourages Creativity and Imagination:
Listening to stories helps a child imagine the characters, places, plot etc., thereby enhancing creativity, making them more imaginative and open to ideas and free-thinking.
• A Great Tool for Sharpening Memory:
Once you have read out the story, you can ask your child to repeat the same after a few days. This is a fun way to increase memory and improve concentration.
• Broadens Horizon:
Through the medium of storytelling, you can make your child familiar with various places and cultures across the world. Try to include relevant stories from different countries and cultures to give your child a broader understanding of the world.
• Makes Academic Learning Easier:
Storytelling is a stepping stone in academic learning. Many children develop the habit of learning by rote without understanding the subject. Storytelling, as a regular activity, can help children enjoy the process of reading. This, in turn, helps them pick up subjects better. Sometimes, teaching school subjects in the form of an interesting story – for example, a history lesson – can help them understand better and fuel curiosity.
• Better Communication:
Sometimes, children are hesitant to ask a question, even though the are extremely curious. Storytelling helps children in learning the art of asking questions. It also makes them more confident. Regular reading and listening can make them better orators too.
• Helps To Face Difficult Situations With Ease:
Stories about various characters facing difficult situations can help children to deal with similar situations in real-life.
Young children are usually keen observers and and are patient enough to enjoy every bit of any activity that they do. Our duty as parents is to ensure that any process is explained to them in a simple manner with proper actions/gestures. That’s how they learn new words and meanings, and differentiate good habits from bad.
We should also give special emphasis on issues such as mental health, happiness, self-respect and love for others to ensure that a child has a happy and healthy childhood. Most importantly, take time to appreciate every single day with your children, have fun, laugh, play, and get involved with them.