There has been much media coverage lately about the impact of technology, and its attendant devices, on all of us, but most poignantly its impact on the very young. Montessori pedagogy tells us that children up to about the age of 6 are sensorial learners. They learn by doing, they learn by experiencing the world through the senses. The real world! Montessori classrooms are purposely designed to capitalize on this developmental trait, but short of building a Montessori classroom in the home environment, what are parents to do if a technology-rich childhood is not the path to stroll down?
Here are a few ideas/options to consider when the temptation of the iPad looms large.
Make grocery shopping an event to share with your child.
Your child need not accompany you every time you go grocery shopping, especially if time is tight or hunger is near, but if you do have the time to devote to making grocery shopping an outing to be experienced and enjoyed, your child may prove to be a willing participant. Take time to name the fruits and vegetables around you. Smell and touch them if this makes sense. Have your child select items, counting them perhaps, or him/her them to read from and check off the grocery list if this is possible. Approach such outings not as a chore to be done, but as time well spent with your child. Enjoy.
Involve your child in household routines such as cooking, setting the table, folding laundry, snow shovelling, raking leaves, watering plants, making beds etc.
Children wish to be active participating members of their families with a real contribution to make. For the young child, these tasks are not something to be accomplished but rather activities which are fun in and of themselves. They nurture self-esteem and are tremendously empowering. A step towards independence. Make sure that activities are safe, materials are properly sized for a child to succeed (eg. a small shovel) and tasks are not overwhelming in their scope. Focus on the doing (“Thanks for your help with this.”) and not the end result. Competencies will build over time.
Compliment your child’s school experiences rather than trying to duplicate them.
A trip to an aquarium, florist, farm, swimming pool, library etc. will enrich his/her world in numerous ways.
Help your child learn to structure his/her own time by offering lots of unstructured time etc.
Unstructured time outside in a backyard, a park or any natural environment provides a host of opportunities for exploration, creativity and much needed “downtime”.
Inside, access to creative tools which have no ‘rules’ per se, such as coloured pencils, paper, scissors, glue, tape, building supplies (eg. Lego), dolls, cars, fort building materials etc. can be extremely beneficial. Keep quantities limited, access open and expectations for use and tidy-up clear.
It’s gratifying to remember that if we confidently allow children to experience ‘boredom’, imagination and creativity will flourish.
Read, read, read and engage in conversation.
Reading together and thoroughly enjoying the experience is one of the most important gifts one can give a child. If reading isn’t an option in the moment (eg. stuck in a traffic jam), consider telling a story (a true story from your day, your week or even your childhood, or a made-up story works well too). You can also simply engage in conversation, recite familiar poems or rhymes or sing songs as a way to explore words. Remember, children too need time to express themselves. Ask open-ended questions and let them reveal whatever it is they wish to.
Listen to music, sing, clap, dance….and don’t worry, an ability to sing in tune or
demonstrate Broadway-worthy dance moves is not necessary. Just have fun.
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