Friday, September 25, 2015

Toddler 101

Toddler 101 is the expectations of performance and compliance to specific commands for behavior necessary towards the safety of the child and the smooth conduct of transitions. 

I will go over what those expectations are, how I teach them, why I teach them for child care situations, and why they are important for parents. 

Toddler 101 is one of the main reasons why we are complemented EVERY SINGLE TIME we go on outtings about how well behaved are Little Stars Learning students.

I started writing this post years ago, and frankly, my methods and expectations haven't changed. I have a newly enrolled 1 year old Mr. R, and Mr. L who is also 1 has been with me now for a few months. I'm once again convinced of the importance of Toddler 101.

I had a client who liked to play chase with her toddler. She would chase after him laughingly saying, "Stop! Come back here! I'm going to get you!" The child would laughingly run away from his mom.

See any issue with this?

Of course when he was two, he ran past her out the door and directly towards my busy street at rush hour. She's screaming at him to stop, come back. He laughed and ran on. I stepped out and said, "[Thomas!] Stop! Sit!" He did. On the sidewalk. Inches from the rushing traffic.

We were at my oldest son's graduation. My youngest was twenty months. As we chatted with family, each thinking that he was being watched, he wandered off and climbed 3/4 of a two story straight stair case in the lobby. As his dad ran up the stairs I said loudly, "Jacob! STOP! Stay!" He did. Going no higher, waiting for his dad.

It is that important. Life and death important. Toddlers' abilities far outweigh their mental capabilities or ability to self-impose limitations on impulses.

I was explaining to Mr. R's mom Toddler 101, and she said, "So, it's like with a dog?" Yep. The American Psychological Association equates the intelligence and understanding of a dog as being equivalent to that of a 2 year old human child. So for a 1-2 year old toddler, expectations of behavior and verbal understanding are the same. If you would expect your dog to understand it, then you can expect your toddler to understand it. If you would expect your dog to do it, then you can expect your toddler to do it.

It is not demeaning to have appropriate expectations for understanding and performance based upon a person's development, no matter what their age. As you would speak differently with an older person with dementia or a person with reduced mental facilities, so you should speak appropriately to toddlers WHEN YOU EXPECT COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING.

I do not speak to a 2 1/2 year old or older child in this manner. I do not speak to toddlers in one-word commands at any other time. Only when understanding and compliance of action is expected.

So what is Toddler 101?

It is a toolbox of commands that are easily taught, understood, performed and necessary. The are not over-used. They are stated in a firm, commanding voice that is easily recognized as expecting compliance.

How are they taught? Expectation, repetition, modeling, physical guidance.

When do I teach this? EVERY SINGLE TIME!! that it isn't done correctly. There are no exceptions. There can't be. If they get away with defiance even one time, then it will get exponentially more difficult to gain compliance at any level, especially instant compliance.

At 2 1/2 and above, most children gain a level of logic/reasoning capability that makes instant compliance unnecessary. You can say, "You can stand in that chair, but not that one. This one is sturdy, but that one will tip over." Toddlers DO NOT have that level of understanding. For them, everything must be strictly black and white. Do/don't do. 

I'll go through the commands one at a time. At school, I always start with their name, so that the child I am addressing is very aware of who I am directing the command towards.

School: Toddlers love to climb. Often they want to climb on inappropriate things. Mr. L, today, managed to get half way up the big slide for the first time. I always expect them to do the unexpected, so while I was several feet away, I saw him and said, "DOWN!" He walked himself back down the slide, walked over to the smaller slide, looked at me, and I smiled and nodded. He played happily on the smaller slide. I also use this one at nap time to tell them to lie down.

Home: Mr. L has also been climbing onto the dining table at home. He knows he's not supposed to, but impulse control at 1yo is pretty much non-existent. He knows he shouldn't, but NOT doing it is nearly impossible. So, mom can say, "DOWN!" from across the room and stop the action in its tracks, rather than having to go to him, and coach him down. [Always coach them down safely rather than remove them, so they can do so when they sneak behind your back. Which they will.]

School: Sit in a chair rather than standing or kneeling. Sit down while I'm dealing with someone/something else, Sit down to eat, rather than wandering with hands full of spaghetti.

Home: Pretty much the same. Sit down in a restaurant, Sit down at church.

School: Whatever you are doing, stop doing it and don't even think about doing it again. As with all of these commands, it is not over used. For instance, if I see a mouth going towards another child's body, it doesn't matter if their intention is to bite or not, it's a firm, "NO!" and they move away. If the child is reaching onto the counter for anything, it's a firm, "NO!" Mr. L started reaching into the toilet while I changed Mr. R today. It got a firm, "NO! Sit!"

Home: Too often home environments are not child-friendly. There are TOO many NOs. At home I always request that NO be used for absolutes: electronics, death-trap issues, etc. Pick your battles and as always, if a child needs to be told NO repeatedly for the same issue, then most likely the environment needs to be changed until they have better impulse control, around 2 1/2 years old.

School: It means freeze in place. We had a massive spider web next to the shed. I saw Miss L going towards it and yelled, "STOP." She did. I then told her what was there and she went around it. This is rarely used, but when it is, it is usually important and I say it to the group, not an individual, because it is something I need complete concentration upon or I need everyone to be aware of it, so I freeze the whole group.

Home: Parking lots, stores, restaurants, basically any public place that a child may run off or wander out of your comfortable physical distance or potentially into a dangerous situation.

School: Most of the boys like to touch themselves during diaper changes. This can get really gross during a really nasty poopy one. HANDS UP means that they keep their hands higher than their neck during diaper changes. I also use it after finger painting as we walk to the sink, and after lunch when they have spaghetti or chili hands.

Home: May not be used as often at home, but imagine if they picked up something gross off the ground, etc. and you don't want them getting it on themselves, furniture, or in their mouths. Yeah. It's nice to have in the arsenal.

School: At the end of nap, I say UP to get them to stand up in their pack-n-plays so I can get them out. I change them on a pad on the floor of the bathroom. When done, I say UP and GO. It's convenience for me more than anything.

Home: Same. Have them stand up in their crib, etc. Toddlers can get very heavy. The easier they can make it on your back, the better.

School: Leave the bathroom, leave the room, leave the kitchen area, go to another area of the room. They learn GO pretty quick. Following the finger I point in the direction they are TO GO, takes a lot longer.

Home: Ever take a hot pan out of the oven and find your toddler behind you? Yeah. Happens more often that you might think. GO is the answer. Find peering eyes as you try to go to the bathroom? GO!

School: Trying to hear a phone call, older children trying to hear a video or music, children sleeping and someone is making stupid noises, reading a story and someone is talking/playing loudly. Child throwing a fit for no good reason. [Good reasons don't get shushed. Children are entitled to their valid emotions vs. drama for drama's sake.]

Home: Church, restaurant, phone call, etc.

I just threw in this pic because it's cute.
School: This is the hardest one to teach. The lack of impulse control is REALLY hard for toddlers. This one comes into play most often here during the winter months when I am trying to get everyone into winter wear and the toddlers want to strip as quickly as I can get it on them. Knowing, someone has to go potty at the last minute, or mittens can't be found, etc. and I just need them to SIT and STAY for 5 minutes. Pleeeeease. I used it the other day when the bigs were picking up and the toddlers were dumping bins faster than 4 preschoolers could pick up and the frustration level was getting out of control. I worked on the toddlers doing SIT and STAY while the bigs finished.

Home: Bringing groceries in and need your child just sit for a few minutes while you go back and forth. Anytime you need them just STAY for a few minutes while you do something. Not often, but comes in handy when it is needed.

School: I'm old and out of shape. There is NO WAY I'm going to chase down everyone over a 1/2 acre when I want them to come in or come to me. All mobile children are expected to come to me when I say COME. I also say, "Come change," when I want the diapered ones to come to the bathroom. I tore my rotator cuff carrying around large children. I don't do that anymore. If they are mobile, they can get there on their own.

Home: Just getting a child to move can sometimes be a challenge. They get side-tracked easily. Conditioning them to come at a simple command can be a huge frustration remover.

School: We have a large school yard. We have a lot of trees and street noise. My voice gets easily lost within the mix of theirs, their play, and everything else. When I clap, everyone stops and looks to me for direction. It's kind of like STOP without the urgency or importance, with the specific expectation that they all look to me. When I want them to all come in, I do a specific clap cadence. It saves my voice.

Home: This would probably work best with older children at home, when out of easy hearing and you want to give them some direction or call them back.

School: The most common sound I utter. It is a simple reminder that they are making un-wise choices and need to change their direction of behavior. Uh-uh will morph into a NO and then a VERY firm NO! before physical intervention of removal from the situation.

Home: I believe in giving children the opportunity to make wise choices, of giving subtle reminders when they are heading in the wrong direction so that they have the opportunity to change their course. Too often children are allowed to head in the wrong direction, then slammed with parental frustration when they cross some invisible line. That just isn't fair. Give children a heads-up when they are headed in the wrong direction. Toddlers have been on this earth for 1-2 years. Keep your expectations reasonable.

Consistency in expectations and limitations is necessary for children to trust their world and to make good choices. They are fully capable of doing so from a very early age. All it takes is teaching them how to meet them.

The benefits of teaching Toddler 101 are mainly for safety reasons. Instant compliance to simple commands is crucial in an emergency situation, and toddlers are more likely to get into an emergency situation than any other age. 

Another benefit is that a toddler feels control in that they can understand and perform to meet expectations, receiving praise and confirmation. Without Toddler 101, this may happen much later in a child's life. Additionally, they learn how to LEARN. Toddler 101 is TAUGHT, through repetition and showing the child what to do to be successful and meet expectations. That is pretty powerful for a 1 year old. 

Sit, stay, come, go may seem like dog commands, but they are developmentally appropriate. Many parents want to baby their 1 year olds, but they are fully capable of meeting simple expectations and verbal direction. Don't minimize their capabilities. If taught Toddler 101, then they have some level of responsibility for their own actions and well-being.

Mr. R's dad hung out with us for a while this afternoon, and he was AMAZED that Mr. R responded so well to my commands, and said that they would DEFINITELY be working on those at home. I got back into this post for them.

You'll also find out a LOT about your toddler's personality when teaching Toddler 101 commands. I've taught more than a dozen toddlers. Each one is different. But they ALL learned the commands and responded accordingly. To me. To their parents, well, it's been a mixed bag of results. Consistency is the key. Good luck!

After Toddler 101 commands are mastered, we move on to Toddler 102. Toddler 102 is simple single directions: bring, pick up, put in, give, put back, not yours give back, nice touch...
Tags: daycare, child care, homeschooling, toddler, infant, teaching, baby, teaching, instruction, curriculum, expectations, parenting, parents, lessons, discipline, behavior, 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Graduation The Places You Will Go

Miss A.'s momma put on the most AMAZING graduation party for us. I can't thank her enough. Nor, the other parents and family members who have given of their time and resources so generously to this school over the last 5 years. Miss A.'s daddy, used his production company resources to create a tear-jerking video covering their time here. It was just...WOW! What a wonderful keepsake for the children and me.

The children went through the graduation ceremony to receive their diplomas, received the book Oh the Place You'll Go with a way-too-long note from me, and autograph puppies they enjoyed passing around for signatures. After eating pizza and tasty treats, they put on a showing of their Reader's Theater production of A Princess and the Pea, which they had been studiously practicing.

So sad to say goodbye to these WONDERFUL children. Miss H joined me at 9 months, and Miss A and Mr. G both at 4 months. I never know how the mix of new children will evolve. In this case, fate, destiny, a higher power or just darn good luck, led these three children to me at the same time. Their accomplishments have been astounding, in a huge part due to how they have played off of one another developmentally and educationally.

Focus and curiosity are the key components of rapid educational grown. I've had VERY smart kids here who had no focus and met the minimum levels of development and education. I've had not-so-smart kids here whose focus has pushed them far ahead of their higher IQ'd friends. These three, had the perfect blend of intelligence, focus and drive.

This program is child-led learning. In the case of these three, it was child-PUSHED. I have worked like a maniac to try to keep up with their educational demands. They went through my preschool curriculum by the time they were three. Since then, all curriculum has been tailor-made to their interests and capabilities and through their direction.

They leave me for kindergarten all reading 3rd grade chapter books, and that's just one tiny aspect of their knowledge and capabilities. Mr. G was offered a double grade skip immediately, which his parents declined. Each set of parents has been in touch with their child's principle, teacher(s), counselor, and/or gifted coordinator of their respective schools. While each school has plans to meet their social/emotional and advanced educational needs, it has been very interesting to see the differences in how they plan to accomplish this. The responsiveness, though, has me hopeful that they will continue to be challenged.

The most important thing that these children leave me with is that they are good people. While they have their quirks and moments, in general, they are kind, thoughtful, helpful, responsible, hard working, polite, and socially aware and responsible. That's what I'm most happy about.
Tags: preschool, graduation, party, theme, Oh the Places You Will Go, Seuss, pre-k

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Box = Learning

I still say that a box is one of the MOST important elements in early childhood learning. Not only does it promote large motor development, it presents so many additional learning opportunities. 

Mr. L is 11 1/2 months old.
This is a few pictures in a single day.

  • Risk Assessment

  • Sometimes he just likes to hang out like this. 

    • Analysis
    • Logic/Reasoning
    • Handling Frustration
    • Thinking Outside of the Box [lol]
    • Perseverance

    It's easier to get in on the low side. 
    He's learning that.

  • Cause/Effect

  • Rocking a little too hard while sitting inside.

    • Dramatic Play
    • Imaginative Resourcing

    Sitting, hiding. Popping up and down.

    • Positional Location
    • Climbing Coordination
    • Volume and Measure
    • Height and Depth Assessment

    Climbing and surfing, sitting and laying on top. 
    He hasn't gotten the nerve to stand on top yet. 
    I'm waiting.
    Notice the dinosaur hidden inside.

    "[L]! Are you ON your box?
    Where's your dino? Is it INSIDE your box?" 

    • Force
    • Offsetting Forces
    • Work
    • Coordination
    • Balance
    • Strength Training

    Carrying it all over.
    Pretty heavy box for such a little guy.
    That doesn't hinder him in ANY way.

    •  Physics

    Putting it off-balance so that he can rock it like a maniac.

    But yes, it's all gross motor. 
    And tiring.

    Tags: box, gross motor, boy, girl, infant, toddler, daycare, child care, learning, education, homeschool, early childhood education, ECE, DAP, Reggio

    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    Easter Sensory Bin with Learning Activities

    Time to change out the sensory bin from March to April. Since we are doing a full-on regarding holidays this year, since the bigs are heading off to kindergarten in the fall, Easter is the theme.

    I wanted to use birdseed as our fill-n-pour, but the girls insisted that we use the red/white/blue rice.

    There are many learning activities available with this sensory bin.

    What's in it?
    1 egg carton
    18 plastic eggs*
    18 colored feathers
    1 set of egg dying baskets*
    1 package of small/medium/large colored pom poms*
    3 bunny plastic eggs*
    1 package pink/green/blue styrofoam glitter eggs*
    8 chick plastic eggs*
    1 package Easter erasers*
    crimped paper shreds
    colored rice
    *From the dollar store

    Additional: tools, baskets, containers

    The Learning Games

    Number Matching 1-18:
    At the bottom of the 18 egg carton, I wrote the numbers in colored Sharpie. The colors give a visual clue of the color of the egg for those children less skilled. For the more advanced, they usually grab an egg then look for a number, often disregarding the color coordination. 

    Color Matching - Eggs:
    For children who don't know their numbers, the egg carton can be used a simple color matching game with the color of the written number to the color of the eggs.

    Color Matching - Feathers:
    18 colored feathers are included in the bin, allowing for the same color matching activity, but with feathers.

    Which Chick Has the Egg?
    One child places a small egg into a chick and puts it back into the "nest." The other child[ren] take turns picking out a chick by number, and looking inside to see if that the one. If not, the chick gets closed and replaced and another turn is taken until the egg is found. Works prediction and number recognition 1-8.

    Color Sorting Bunny Tails:
    Sorting the pom pom "bunny tails" into the egg dying cups. These cups aren't that sturdy, so I've wrapped them in packing tape this year to see if they hold up. If not, I'll be buying small metal buckets for this activity in the future. They count how many are in each cup after sorting. Since they can't usually find all of them, or appropriate them, at every session, the quantities should change every time. 

    The feathers can be sorted into the cups as well, but there are only 3 feathers of each color on purpose for the egg carton, and there isn't an orange cup in this set. So sorting the feathers in this cup set has limited value.

    Sorting Bunny Tails by Size:
    These bunny plastic eggs came as a set of 3. It works, as the pom poms came in small/medium/large and this is a good observation, logic/reasoning, and fine motor activity. They fill up the bunny bottoms then count how many were in each one as they take them back out. A good volume measurement introduction as well.

    Bunny Color Sorting:
    These styrofoam eggs only come in the blue/pink/green, so sorting them in the bunnies works. Again, counting how many once done.

    This set of Easter erasers just happens to have two of each style. Perfect for a simple matching game.

    When I introduce the new sensory bin, I let them go at it for a while, then I introduce the learning games that I don't see them incorporating into their play. I simply do them while we play, and they pick up on any they are interested in and developmentally ready to perform.

    They also make baskets, do fill-n-pour and have fun.

    You may also be interested in our Spring Sensory Bin.

    Follow Connie -'s board Easter Theme on Pinterest.
    Tags: daycare, child care, preschool, pre-k, sensory, sensory bin, math, early math, science, gross motor, fine motor, homeschooling, kids, child, Easter, holiday, spring, egg, eggs, theme, curriculum, unit

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Dynamic and Interactive Math Worksheets - Preschool/Early Elementary

    Worksheets are not developmentally appropriate for children until around age 8. The key word being DEVELOPMENTALLY. Some children, like my current pre-k's, are developmentally advanced. Once we've gone through the first two levels of instructions, and we need to "take it small," then worksheets become a necessity.

    That does not mean that they need to be boring, stagnant and one-dimensional. They can be fully engaging.

    Once the children have a concept down, they need the ability to play with it in their own time. These worksheets are FREE CHOICE activities. The children can grab one at will and do it at their own pace. If they only want to do one or two problems, then they can place the unfinished worksheet in their work drawer to come back to later.

    If they have difficulty, as with all of our endeavors, they have to try to come up with a work-around before bringing the problem to me. At their disposal for these math worksheets they can utilize an abacus, number line, manipulatives, 100's chart, or a peer tutor.

    I have to limit how many worksheets the pre-k's can do in a day. Why? Because they are dynamic and interactive - fun. Every time they do one, it changes. They have no idea what the next draw will be. It's a little mystery, a little adventure, a little magic. Everyone likes surprises, and especially children. 

    It is their choice to do the activity. They make the choices of cards, dominos, or how to roll the die, but chance determines the equations. Everything is within their realm of control and self-direction. Empowered learning.

    Below is more information on the six worksheets we are using. The instructions sound much more mature than for this age group. Remember that the children already KNOW how to do these, so these instructions are for your information, not a child's instruction. Demonstration always works better than verbal instruction for the children.


    This is the first one we utilize.  Since it is the first, I included a writing key at the bottom. If they need a key on the other worksheets, they just grab one of these for reference, because this is evidently easier than turning around and looking at the one on the wall, or pulling the one from the busy bag bin.

    • Roll the die and write down the first number.
    • Roll the die and write down the second number.
    • If the second number is SMALLER than the first, then you have the choice to add OR subtract.
    • If the second number is LARGER than the first, then you have to add.
    • Write the function in the circle.
    • Complete the equation and write the answer.
    • Roll the die and write down the next number.
    • Continue.


    These kiddos have this one down, so I'm revising a new one that will be used with a 10 or 12 sided die. I will also be doing some for skip counting.

    • Roll the die and write down the first number.
    • Roll the die and write down the second number.
    • If the second number is SMALLER than the first, then you have the choice to add OR subtract.
    • If the second number is LARGER than the first, then you have to add.
    • Write the function in the circle. 
    • Place a dot on the number line relevant to the first number.
    • Write the number of leaps relevant to the second number in the correct direction.
    • Complete the equation and write the answer.

    This can also be changed up for multiplication.

    • Pick a domino.
    • Draw the domino in the boxes.
    • Write the numbers that correspond to the domino amount.
    • Complete the equation and write the answer.

    This uses only cards ace through 9. I like the aspect of A=l. Good algebra initiation. The first time they did this, I asked what the answer was to the equation, something like what is 59-37. Miss A looked at me like I was insane and said, "We can't do THAT!" Then I showed them that she just had on her worksheet and they were amazed.

    • Choose 2 cards.
    • Place the highest card above the lowest card.
    • Choose 2 more cards.
    • Place the highest card above the lowest card next to the previous set.
    • Write in the numbers as they are on the cards.
    • Subtract. Write in the answer.

    Since the children aren't allowed to throw inside, this is a special treat and very popular. I have a set of the soft insertable dice. I took one to use for this activity. This week it is has colors on each side. Next week will be shapes. The next, possibly words that go with our theme, or names of the students. Each week will be different to keep that dynamic aspect going and the interest high.

    I could just have all 6 dice out with different things on them, but that takes away from the wonder and anticipation. I could also have a die for each of them, but there is also an element of limited resources being valued more highly than plenty that also keeps the interest higher.

    This is by far their favorite. The discussion, prediction, and analysis they engage in between themselves and me as they go through this one is just awesome. "Oh, wow, now ORANGE is winning!" "Hey, now I have a four tie between green, blue, yellow and PINK!"

    • Referencing the die, mark in your legend on the bottom row of the graph.
    • Answer question 1.
    • Roll the die, marking the appropriate box until one column is filled.
    • Answer the rest of the questions.

    The stated task of this worksheet is skip counting. However, it works odd/even identification, multiplication, one-to-one correspondence counting, number identification, logic/reasoning skills, addition & subtraction...

    I have them work on our red=odd, STOP you can not divide evenly; and even=green, GO you can divide evenly.

    • Roll a die to see what the skip count will be.
    • Choose a random number as the starting number.
    • Skip count forward and backward from that number.
    • If you land on an odd number, color that square red.
    • If you land on an even number, color that square green.
    We can also use the 100 Chart for other math activities, games and mystery pictures.

    One of the wonderful things about a mixed age group, is how much the little ones learn through observation, asking questions, and listening to the older children discuss what they are doing.

    A parent asked why I don't just laminate these. I may.

    But these are new, BIG concepts and skills. I don't want these worksheets to become just another busy bag or time filler. 

    I don't believe in flash cards. These children are performing their addition and subtraction facts multiple times a day, through CHOICE and what they consider to be PLAY. 

    The retention of those facts is amazing, because it is meaningful to them.

    They are identifying mathematical patterns and concepts on their own through exploration, rather than through instruction.

    The children do not have to complete a worksheet. If they do not, it goes into their work drawer for later and they have to complete that one before getting another. I think it is important that they build this work ethic. Laminated sheets do not instill this continuity of performance.

    Once a sheet is finished, they get to take it home. I also think that being able to retain their work and show it to others is an important aspect of taking pride in their work and accomplishments. The feedback and encouragement will support their continued efforts and self-esteem. 

    If you don't want to spend the time making your own worksheets, I have this set available in my TPT store for $1.00.
    Tags: homeschool, homeschooling, unschooling, independent learning, preschool, elementary, math, multiplication, addition, subtraction, graphing, child care, daycare, pre-k, child, care,