Teaching skills to our littles isn't always easy. Most of what we're doing is for exposure and fun. As we teach early preschool concepts to our littles we are also setting the foundation for their ideas about learning and school. We want our children to be life long learners. We want them to love learning and importantly we want to cultivate a safe, comfortable feeling about making inquiries and exploring them.
There are occurrences when we introduce a new skill and it takes a little time before it clicks for our little. Many things we understand as a 'given' are not even in our little's frame of mind. Today I wanted to share a few tactics to use when a skill isn't clicking and someone (your little or even you) may feel frustrated. But, first and foremost don't feel bad- frustration is a natural reaction. Know yourself and your little well enough to know where your limits are and stop before reaching them. As the 'teacher' in the relationship try to always stay positive. Here are few ideas to help when things aren't clicking:
- Reread the directions Reading the directions over again each time your little takes a step in an activity may feel redundant but keep in mind at the preschool age children aren't expected to complete multi-step activities independently. For example, an activity has your little adding play doh spots to an image of a dog on a playmat to correspond with the correct numeral. After he/she adds two spots to the dog with the number 2, repeat the directions, "find the number X" [child finds X] "add X number of spots to that dog." and so on. Sometimes our littles struggle because the honestly don't remember exactly what they're doing.
- Rephrase the Directions You know your little better than written directions on a page or blog post. If the directions do not make simple sense try rephrasing them in a way your little might understand better.
- Model This isn't giving up or giving in. If your little doesn't understand it helps to model for them what you're expecting or trying to do with them. For example, an activity has your little identifying and extending a pattern. You can tell him/her, "This is a pattern. Look; blue, yellow, blue, yellow, blue, so the next color is going to be yellow." It's ok to do a whole lot of modeling. Littles learn a whole lot by observing.
- Make the Activity Concrete If you're doing work in a workbook and your little is struggling think outside the page. For example, if your connecting set of objects with a corresponding numeral do the same idea using actual objects and write the number on a blank sheet of paper.
- Take a Break Sometimes y'all just need a break. Maybe things aren't clicking because you've already read a story, sang a song, did a craft, and now you're working on a specific skill. Your little may have met his/her ceiling for the time being and a break is what will support their learning most. No one gets a goal medal for doing the most activities in one day.
No matter which tactic you use, no matter the outcome of the activity it's best to end on a high note. Find a way to make to make things fun- even if that means playing 52 pick up with the flash cards you've been struggling through! :)