In my facility, there are 20 imaginative play stations that children can pretend that they are little vets, bakers, chefs, moms, dads, construction workers, policemen, firefighters, waitresses, artists, and much more.
When children dress-up they get the chance to BECOME a role that they have learned about through observations for as long as they have been able to make connections.
When kids push a stroller, it seems like a simple imitation, but they are just starting to figure out how to imagine that they ARE moms or dads and they are also learning how to make what they believe come to life.
Socially, kids can learn how to relate to others in a positive and appropriate way.
Linguistically, kids can expand their vocabulary by learning and using more words in their imaginative world. For example, if your kids are playing “grocery store” then you can teach them the names of fruits and vegetables they may not have tried before. Or, they may learn about lists, and words relating to money.
Physically, children can strengthen their developing muscles by putting on costumes, tying aprons, hammering, digging, cleaning, all while pretending to take on a role/responsibility.
Cognitively, kids learn more when they put on a role, connect hands-on, and engage by allowing their understandings to come to life.
As a bonus, you might learn even more about what roles interest your child most!
So, it seems simple, but the next time your kids are dressing up and pretending to be an identity other than their own, pretend right along with them, extend on their language, and ask questions that will help them to search their developing brains for answers to deepen those connections with their world.
Share any other thoughts in a comment… we have so much we can learn from each other!
This is a Mommy Teacher Spotlight from a friend that works out at the same gym as me… that will be no surprise to you after you see what she is all about.
The following post is from Niki (whose information to link up to her site is at the bottom of this post… so check it out!):
Niki writes “It was a 4:30AM kind of morning. I was pulling out of my driveway to see an early client. My crazy neighbor was at it again. Running up and down the street. Back and forth. The monotony of it practically put me back to bed. I wondered why on earth she ran back and forth. We lived a quarter mile from the cities running hot-spot. A beautiful 3 mile loop around the university lake. It made no sense and the absurdity of her routine drove me bonkers. Years past and every morning I gave her a we’re-up-too-early wave of camaraderie, followed by a you’re-more-nuts-than-me look.
One morning as I was headed off I noticed she had 2 mini-me companions on her morning route of back-and-forth. Two young children on bikes pedaled at her heels. It turns out she was a single mom and the only way she could fit exercise into her day was to wake up earlier than her kids and never stray farther than a backward glance. I immediately fell in love with her no-excuses, make-it-happen mentality. She wasn’t a nut. She was a warrior.
What I didn’t know is that she would become the inspiration for my own back and forthing.
Fast forward 3 years. I’m now a single mom to two wildly fun kiddos, ages 4 and 6. I could never have dreamed up the life I have today. It’s very screen-play-ish. Life throws you curve-balls sometimes. What I’ve learned is that as pressure increases you have two choices: you can either rise or explode. Rising sounds like more fun to me.
I know that I am my child’s greatest teacher. I will pass on my best and my worst qualities to my children.
So I had to ask myself, “what kind of adult do I want my children to become?” “Am I a model for that kind of adult?”
I want my children to be healthy, happy, confident and love themselves. Not self-love in a narcissistic way. Self love in an I-am-worthy-of-greatness way. I want my children to become outside-the-box thinkers, people who laugh at limitations, go after what they want in life and follow their heart’s desire. I want to raise individuals who understand that wholeness comes from within.
Then I asked myself “am I a living example of all I want my children to become?”
Because I value being a mother more than anything in my life, I choose to rise each morning in self-love. Loving yourself by taking care of your personal needs is not selfish. So many mothers feel guilty for taking the time to exercise, prepare meals or relax! We need to embrace self care as a teach-by-example lesson to our children. If we want our children to love themselves, we must teach them to respect their entire being, body-mind-spirit. That includes exercise, feeding the body healthy foods, and seeking solutions to eliminate cravings, poor body image and low energy. The mind can literally become captive inside an unhealthy body. I know, because I struggled with cravings, emotional eating and poor body image for over 15 years. Negative self talk occupied my mind and prevented me from contributing my unique gifts to the world. I knew that I never wanted my children to experience the pain of not loving themselves or the fear of not being enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Popular enough. I want my children to experience a love of their bodies as a gift that allows them to do things that bring them joy and allow them to contribute more love to the world.
I choose self love inspired exercise and nutrition daily to fulfill my own physical needs and personal growth desires. When you fill yourself up with good food and exercise, you have more energy to give your children. You show them what it looks like to be healthy and happy. That is a life skill that cannot be taught in a classroom, it must be consistently modeled.
So, I rise each morning long before the sun comes up. I move forward in my self-love inspired life by sprinting back and forth past my children’s bedroom window. I send out a prayer of gratitude for the strong, no-excuses woman who pioneered the path of back and forthing. The mornings I find myself moaning and groaning with a I-don’t-feel-like-it attitude, I envision my future healthy happy adult children. My children are my greatest motivation and my biggest fans!
3 Ways To Model Health & Happiness For Your Kids
1. Identify what makes you happy in life.
What are your deepest desires for your own personal development? Do you have the desire to live in a strong, healthy, energy-abundant body? Do you have the desire to learn a craft or hobby? Do you deeply yearn to volunteer and make a positive impact on the world? What can you do to become the best version of yourself? Inspire your children to reach their highest potential by reaching for yours.
2. Get organized.
Write your self-development goals for the next 6 months. Break down your goals by month and put it in your calendar. If it’s not on your schedule, it’s not happening! Prior to bed, each night make a (doable) to-do list for the next day. Setting goals seems obvious but it doesn’t work unless you actually do it and stick to it!
3. Set it and forget it!
Set your goal and then enjoy each step of your journey towards achieving your goal. Focusing on the end-result will lead to overwhelm. Overwhelm is the inability to make a decision and take action. Take one moment at a time and knock out the 1,2,3’s on your daily to-do list. The most successful people don’t hyper-focus on achievement, they are present with the experience. Remember, your children will learn patience, persistence and follow through if you model a positive attitude on your own self development journey. “
Niki Driscoll is a Mind-Body Connection Expert, Holistic Health Practitioner and Personal Trainer.
Niki created Candy to Kale, a sassy-fun online video program to help women kick cravings and end emotional eating without discipline. Her sassy-edgy style motivates even the most committed self help cynics.Learn how to love yourself healthy and hot at [http://nikidriscoll.com] and visit [http://facebook.com/thenikidriscoll for the designed-by-niki poster series ‘Exercise Meditations.’
My kids often do things that are expectedly unexpected (if that even makes sense). If I tell my kids to do something and they have a reaction that I didn’t anticipate, it is unexpected… but since it happens every single day a bajillion times a day… really… how unexpected can it be? Expectedly unexpected.
Expectedly unexpect this, kids: MY reaction to above situation. I get annoyed. Punish. Yell. Throw a Mommy hissy fit if it is the umpteenth time I have told them to turn off the TV. Put the kids in timeout. Take away the TV for the day. Talk talk talk talk talk about how they disobeyed. Seriously, you’d think they’d learn. You think, I’d learn.
Well, I had this re-epiphany the other day. A re-epiphany is that ‘aha’ moment that has been tucked away in our heads. Sometimes we just need a little reminder. And here is my re-epiphany… I need to teach my kids HOW TO THINK!
Me: “It’s time to get dressed…”
Yet they continued to play with toys.
Me: “C’mon boys, let’s get dressed.”
Me: “Stop playing with toys and get dressed!”
Yeah, I’m not proud of those moments when I snap. So, I have recently started turning the conversation around by verbally thinking about and questioning the situation to give them a chance to make the correct decision about what is the important thing to do to accomplish a task.
Me: “It’s time to get dressed.”
They continue to play with toys.
Me: “We need to get to school on time, so which is more important right now: playing with toys or getting dressed?
Boys: “Getting dressed.”
Me: “What happens if we play with toys instead of getting dressed?”
Boys: “Then we are going to be late for school…”
and my little one added: “Then Mommy will be maaaaad.”
Yup… I guess I needed this little epiphany to get myself to chill out because fussing at my kids apparently sticks in their little minds.
I have been focusing my conversations with the kids on using guiding questions to help them discern how to behave. The things that you and I as adults do automatically in our heads do not come naturally to young kids, but we can teach them the thought process that needs to be going through their minds. We can verbally model that for them so they start doing it as well:
Is this the right thing to do?
Which is more important?
What would happen if I didn’t listen?
This type of teaching will help your kids learn how to think things through. If you notice, I talked about our goal: to get to school on time. Then I narrowed down the field of all of the possible things they could be doing right now to two things: playing with toys (the action they are doing) and getting dressed (the action I need them to be doing.
I then ask “What is more important right now?” The right now is important because we do not want them to think that the things that matter most to them aren’t important, but at that exact moment, which is the MOST important. With my 3-year-old, I sometimes also have to say, “We can play with our toys after homework today when it is play time,” to remind him that his own personal goal (to play with toys) will also be fulfilled, but at a later point today.
We have used this approach for many things this week – most of them have been in the format of prioritizing which activity will best help us to reach our goal.
Teaching how to think is cross-curricular. You already teach foreshadowing (what’s going to happen next) in reading and math (sequencing) and cause and effect in science. This is just taking the same conversational approach and applying it to behavior.
I recommend also having these conversations during regular play, not just when you need them to do something. Expect the unexpected. Try to anticipate how they might do something that you will have to fuss them for and start a conversation about it before it happens…
Mommy Teacher: “If we are going to play in your room which is next to your sleeping sister’s room, is it more important to talk loudly or quietly?”
Mommy Teacher: “Why do we need to talk quietly?”
Child: “Because we do not want to wake Sister up.”
And if you’re like me and have a little lawyer or politician on your hands who will try to argue his decision to choose to do something besides what you need him to do, just remind him to think about what is MOST important to accomplish the end goal.
I have been practicing a few guidance techniques lately that I wanted to share with you….
Show of hands…. how many of you ask “WHY?” to your young children on a regular basis wanting to know his/her intent for their behavior?
(raising my hand)
Here are a few examples of my very own “Why?” questions…
1) “Why did you hit your sister?”
2) “Why did you pee on your dresser?”
3) “Why did you throw that food on the floor?”
Well, the answers are usually
1) “because she was pushing me.”
2) “because I thought it would be fun.”
3) “because I didn’t want it any more.”
Okay soooo there are teachable moments that follow these instances of course. But lately, I have been practicing a tip that I think is from “Parenting is Heart Work” to ask more WHAT questions rather than “why” questions.
OHHHHH that makes SOOOO much more sense.
It gives my kids time to reflect on WHAT they just did and not try to figure out why they just did it.
So instead, I have been taking Sean Patrick’s hand and in a calm, loving (non-condescending) voice saying
1) “What did your hand just do?”….. “What are our hands for?” “Are they for hitting?” “What can you do next time to solve your problem more calmly?”
2) “What did you just do to your dresser?” “Is the dresser for tee tee or the potty for tee tee?” “What should you do next time you need to tee tee?”
3) “What did you just do to your food?” “Is that where your food goes when you are done?” “What should we do with our food when we are done?”
This makes the teachable moments so much more interactive and impressionable trust me!
And I am sure you are all still stuck on number 2 haha
Well, another tip I am learning from “Parenting is Heart Work” is to stay calm and NOT be reactive by showing sorrow instead of anger. So when Sean Patrick peed on his dresser I put the palms of my hands and my fingertips together like I was praying, put my pointer fingers up to my lips and CLOSED my eyes with frowed eyebrows (try this right now to see what I am talking about).
I held that position for about 15 seconds and didn’t say anything. Sean Patrick started asking me WHY questions haha “Why are you sad mom?” (still no response) “I’m sorry I tee teed on my dresser!” (still in prayerful pose) “I will never do it again!” (still praying to stay calm) “Why are you sad?”
Then I responded. I am sad because you tee teed in your room so now it will stink. I am sad because you tee teed on your clothes and now it all needs to be washed. And I was hoping that you knew where you are supposed to tee tee every time.
In this instance I didn’t need to ask him the WHAT questions because he acknowledge WHAT he did when I was in prayer pose. And he decided that he was not going to do that again which is what I would have asked him as well.
He didn’t do it again, and in fact he came up to me the next time he tee teed and said “Mom I tee teed in the potty and not on my dresser… Are you proud of me?”
Haha “Yes big boy, yes I am very proud that you made a good choice.”
We are absolutely loving our daily devotions! The kids are finally not protesting them anymore (before they just wanted to run off to watch TV after homework), but now they jump up and down asking what type of activity we are doing (not every day, but some)! This week, we even did a science experiment as one of our activities! Have you ever related God to oil? Haha… maybe it was a stretch, but the kids loved it and totally got my analogy, so that’s what matters!
When my husband got home, the boys couldn’t wait to tell him what they learned which sparked my husband’s Daddy Teacher side (he taught math, science and engineering to high schoolers before he became a mechanical engineer). He ended up creating a science experiment that will be my next post in a few days.
Day 1: An Adventure with Me
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” -John 14:20
If you have any matryoshka (nesting) dolls lying around your house, this verse can be perfectly portrayed by using those dolls. If not, any type of nesting toys such as blocks or cups can be used just fine. For your older child, you can label the big nesting doll “God,” the next size “Jesus,” the next your son/daughter’s name, and the next “Jesus” again.
This one took some convincing for my 3 year old to understand that God was not an LSU football player, and to get past the fact that each doll has a “shirt” (top) and “pants” (bottom).
Me: “Leyson, so where is Jesus?” Leyson: “He is wearing my pants.” Me: “No, he is inside you. Inside you.” ::sigh::
Next lesson: the difference between “where” and “wear” and maybe we’ll just use nesting blocks instead of the nesting dolls. 😉
“For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own pets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'” -Acts 17:28
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:6-7
Day 2: Never Changing
“God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33
The devotion talked about all of the distractions we face daily…hourly…and how one thing always remains the same: God. He is a constant in our lives. While we are growing and changing, He is the one thing we can count on to always be there for us.
Today, I wanted to do an illustration on things that change and things that remain the same.
Materials: 2 bowls, oil, water, food coloring
I pulled out 2 bowls and filled one with water and one with oil. I explained to the kids that we are like the water, always growing and changing, learning new things, adjusting to new situations. James added food coloring to our water to see how the water automatically changed to blue.
Then I explained that God is always the same, always there for us. He is not going to be changed or influenced by distractions like we are. He is not going to walk away from us even when we mess up. His love for us remains the same. Leyson added food coloring to the oil and the oil did not change. It did not spread and turn the oil blue like it did the water.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Day 3: I Am the Light
“I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness. He will have the light that gives life.” -John 8:12
Today’s discussion was about the Light that fills our hearts and the darkness that can overtake it, if you let it.
Materials: black paper, pencil, glue, glitter, tray or box with sides (to limit the mess)
Draw a large heart on the black paper. Talk about how hate, jealousy, rudeness, disobedience, dishonesty and disrespect can all darken the heart. Let your child paint the inside of the heart with glue and fill it with glitter.
Talk about how Jesus’ love for us and our obedience to follow Him will fill our hearts with light. My kids had a great time waving their hearts around to see the light dance against the glitter.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” -Psalm 32:7
Day 4: No Other Friend Like Me
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” -John 15:13
We pulled one of our favorite Disney songs to help us with today’s devotion. We compared the love and friendship that Andy and Woody have with each other to our relationship with Christ. We also closed our eyes and listened to the words of this song describing their friendship and talked about how that relates to us and our BFF, Jesus.
“I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” -John 15:14-15
Day 5: Depend on Me
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” -Ephesians 6:10
God is the ultimate superhero – putting it in 6-year-old boy terms here. He is super duper strong, like an ant. We discussed how strong ants are in comparison to their bodies, and how big and heavy the things they carry can be.
Materials: stirring straws, cheerios, glue
We pretended our fingers were little ants and made dumbbells to pump some ant iron and show their strength. Cutting the straws into 3 inch pieces, we slipped cheerios onto each end. James decided 3 cheerios on each end was about what an ant can carry (he thinks he is Wikipedia and knows everything).
Then my 6-year-old know-it-all decided to multiply the weight that the ants can carry times a million trillion billion because that’s how strong God is.
“The God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
If you are doing Bible studies with your kids at home, we would love to hear from you! Are you following a specific kid’s devotional or study, or making your own up as you go along? Comment below to tell us all about it!