EEC Provides Resources for Early Learning

Lesson Plans & On-line Activities Address Critical Learning Period For Children

Families with young children and early childhood educators will discover an abundance of online educational resources at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s Resources for Early Learning! Lesson plans and activity suggestions offer support for encouraging young learners to develop essential skills.

During the very earliest days of a child’s life – from birth until they’re five – the learning that takes place will look very different from the learning done throughout the rest of their life. While learning eventually evolves into something that a child can reflect on and communicate about, early childhood learning happens in tiny baby steps (literally) that, after accumulating over time, provide the solid foundation upon which they will build the rest of their lives.

While the basics of educational activities for children may seem simple (read stories, play peek-a-boo, count everything), in order to truly pinpoint a very young child’s developmental needs, attention to detail is necessary. Using the Massachusetts Department of Early Education’s (EEC) online tool Resources for Early Learning, parents and educators can learn about the many different ways to support young children in developing skills in language, numeracy, and movement, while also teaching them how to explore, observe, and become curious about the world around them. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Sounding out the New Year for Kids’ Development

New Year’s Resolutions: Articulation and Early Reading

Making New Year’s Resolutions? How about resolving to create a culture of reading in your family, supporting language development while connecting with your kids.

It’s hard to believe that yet another year is over and that a New Year is beginning. It’s time to make some resolutions for the future. My resolution is to spread clear and helpful information to parents. What are you resolved to do in the future?

Here’s some helpful information. As I’ve written in the past, young children mispronounce words in the cutest ways. At what point is it a problem that needs a speech-language pathologist? It usually becomes a problem for grandparents. They begin to admit that they need a parent’s interpretation to understand their grandkids. Then you may notice that their peers don’t understand. The child may start being aware that peers are reacting to their speech and begin to think that speaking is hard. If a child shows any frustration around communication, it’s time to seek help. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: How Listening Removes Pressure to Perform

The Power of Listening

Time pushes against our ability to listen, to absorb and to progress thoughtfully.

Sometimes I am trying to do therapy and the client balks. It is obvious they feel overwhelmed. I have to remember to put myself in their shoes, instead of pushing my agenda. There is so much pressure on people today. I know that I myself often just want to jump off the conveyor belt of life, and into a simpler time. I can actually remember times of little stress as a child growing up in the 1950s. I miss those unplanned moments of exploration and discovery. Just to be able to have time to read a book lately seems such a luxury!

When I work with kids, some can ignore the pressures on them while others can’t. I remember that my experience growing up was much freer, with more play time to develop. All one has to do is look at the current Core Curriculum for kindergarten to get a clue!

Doesn’t sound much like play time! Read the rest of this entry »

Philosophy for Children Class at MHC Supports Community-Based Education

‘Big Ideas for Little Kids:’ PBS Doc Features Mount Holyoke College Class

Each fall, students in Professor Thomas E. Wartenberg’s Philosophy for Children class pack up kids’ picture books and bring big ideas to elementary school students in the Pioneer Valley.

Rather than slogging through philosophers’ names and theories, however, the Mount Holyoke College students are teaching second graders at the Martin Luther King Charter School in Springfield, MA, to question their own assumptions, listen to each other’s points of view, and sometimes even change their minds—all through the lens of children’s books.

The class, co-taught by Wartenberg and Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella last year, is the subject of a documentary film that will premiere on PBS affiliate WGBY Channel 57 on Monday, November 3, at 8 pm. Big Ideas for Little Kids will be rebroadcast (see schedule below) and available online starting November 4 at wgby.org/bigideas.

“The second graders learn some of the basic rules for having a philosophical discussion, from what it means to be a listener who respects differences in opinion, to how to build a good argument when making a point,” filmmaker Julie Akeret, a regional Emmy Award winner, says. “These young students are excited to be asked not only what they think, but why.”

When the class was filmed last fall, the Mount Holyoke students used six children’s picture books, each focusing on a different question of philosophy. Frederick, for example, prompts the question, “What is work?” through the story of a mouse who composes poetry while his family and friends gather food for winter. The Giving Tree inspires an impassioned examination of whether a tree surrendered “her whole self” when she gave up her lush branches and towering trunk so her son could build a home. And Emily’s Art incites a debate about whether a judge really knows best in an art contest. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Constructing The Two-Sided Conversation

Barriers to Communication: Conversation

A conversation is meant for two.

Every day I use my problem solving skills to figure out the barriers that people have when communicating. This week I looked more deeply at one of my students. Once again I remembered that understanding how someone thinks will help me to know the most effective way to teach. A parent once defined my job as teaching her child how to think. Here is a good example of how speech language pathologists figure out how to help students.

Having a conversation with my student is a difficult experience because she always tells you what is important to her, which is usually an emotionally charged detail she recalls. I wait to find out what we are talking about so I can participate in the conversation, but mostly I feel like am at the mercy of the twisting and turning details she drops like breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Practice & Monitoring is Key to Speech Development

Observing and Coaxing Your Child’s Speech Development is A Sensitive Art

If a child seems lost for words, let them work a little to find them.

So we all know that kids make cute speech errors when they are young. My son is almost 40 years old but I still think “hopicopter” when I see a helicopter. It seems like yesterday that he was saying that! One of the dilemmas for a new parent is when family members think something is wrong with a child’s speech. How do you know if they are correct?

First off, speech is developmental. We don’t learn how to use all the speech sounds at once; they come into our speech over years of practice speaking. The first big concern is making sure our children are speaking so they will achieve the motor maturity to practice the sounds they can say and attempt new sounds. So getting your toddler to talk is always good. Unfortunately, we as caretakers are enablers. And we are psychic! We fill in words or ask yes/no questions rather than make our kids work a little (After noticing the child reaching for the ball, we say, “did you want the ball?”). Acting dumb is often my first instruction for parents. Choice questions really work (“I don’t know what you want. Do you want the ball or the block?”). Read the rest of this entry »

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