Writing is Storytelling on a Page

Writing is storytelling on a page

 Storytelling is a key building block when trying to develop writing skills in young children. WHY? Because writing is storytelling on a page. 

The cry a parent often hears about writing is something like, “I hate writing! I can’t write.”! Translation-I am not comfortable writing. If your child can tell a story, he or she can write a story. Writing is storytelling on a page!

Unfortunately, most of us don’t prepare our children to write the way we prepare them to know the alphabet. Parents tend to  focus on the alphabet, counting, and other learning skills during their preschool and kindergarten years. Yet, writing is a skill that most of us will need and use for the rest of our lives. Being comfortable writing and writing well is critical to our academic and employment success.

I am not talking about grammar, punctuation or understanding sentence structure. These skills will be taught in school. I refer to the ability to describe something on paper that was seen, heard, read or told about.

It’s all about storytelling. It is more than the stories you read to your child from a book. It is the storytelling that comes from sharing family history or events.  It can be making up stories about everyday activities as you spend time with your child. Being read to captures a child’s interest, expands his/her knowledge and fosters creative thinking. However, the ability to tell a story is a key building block of writing a story. The ability to tell and write a story must be practiced like any other skill.

Most of my life I’ve earned an income from writing. I’ve authored a biography and a children’s book. My digital media work includes articles, technical writing, reports, recipes, programs, children’s stories, web content and blogging. I owe my comfort and enjoyment of writing to my extended family. By the time I was two years old, my godmother and grandparents were telling me stories and helping me to tell stories about the things I saw when out walking or visiting with them. Even before I could write, they encouraged me to tell them stories and they wrote them down for me. Then the stories were taped to their refrigerator for all to read. I couldn’t wait until I had the skills to write my own stories. It was all the motivation I needed to learn the alphabet and begin writing.

There is no more undivided attention a child can get than time spent with an adult or older sibling exploring something new. He or she can then tell a story about that experience. It can be as simple as a trip to the supermarket, a walk in the park, or helping to wash the car.

 Initially, your child needs you to guide him or her through the process of making up a story.  At first, you will need to ask your child questions to trigger storytelling. After awhile that won’t be necessary.

Storytelling is a family affair and one that offers a role for grandparents and other relatives. Photo albums, attics full of stuff, and scrapbooks are just some of the things that can spark stories. Recording the story is a critical part of the process. Being able to look at and refer to his or her story, in writing, establishes a comfort level about writing.

If a child can view writing as storytelling on a page, he or she is on track for enjoying and not dreading writing.

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Do Preschoolers Really Need Structured Exercise Every Day?

If you are the parent or grandparent of a preschooler you’ve got to be thinking no way does my preschooler need structured exercise!

But…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks us to consider the rise in overweight children between the ages of two and five years of age. In the late 1970s, about 5% of children between 2 and 5 years old were overweight. Just recently that figure reached nearly 14%,

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education(NASPE) suggests that preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) spend at least 60 minutes a day in total on structured physical exercise that help a preschooler develop motor skills. Children need daily practice to develop motor skills. Preschoolers need an additional 60 minutes on unstructured physical activities. They should not be engaging in more than 60 minutes at a time in sedentary activities unless they are asleep.

The guidelines for toddlers, 12 to 36 months old, are similar with the exception of structured physical activity adding up to 30 minutes a day rather than 60 minutes.

Parents and grandparents make the best teachers of physical exercise and activities. Try playing the following games to make sure your preschooler or toddle meets his or her daily requirements for physical activities:

  • Any kind of tag game
  • Catch with balls that are the proper size and weight for size and age
  • Water activities such as swimming, water exercises and games
  • Riding a tricycle or a scooter
  • Crawling activities
  • Doing jumping jacks
  • Music games and dancing to music
  • Playground jungle gym

NASPE offers a  word of caution… it is best to make these daily activities fun or, as our preschoolers get older structured physical activities may become a turnoff.

Another reason to make structured physical activities fun is they are competing with hand-held devices for many a preschooler’s attention.  The problem is hand-held devices and computers are sedentary activities.

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Facts about Kids and Sports

Safe Kids USA wants you to know the following key facts about kids and sports:

• More than 38 million children and adolescents participate in sports each year in the U.S.
• Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households with school-age children have at least one child who plays organized sports.
• Each year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 years and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries.
• Approximately two-thirds of all sports-related injuries leading to emergency department visits are for children.
The rate and severity of sports-related injury increases with a child’s age.
• From 2001 through 2009, it is estimated that there were 1,770,000 emergency department visits, 6 percent
of these for traumatic brain injuries, among children ages 14 and under for injuries related to sports or
recreation.
• Approximately one out of five traumatic brain injuries among children are associated with participation in sports and recreational activities.
• More than 90 percent of sports-related concussions occur without the loss of consciousness.
• The most common types of sport-related injuries in children are sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.
• In 2009, more than 365,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in emergency departments for either football or basketball-related injuries.

 

Kids playing sports

Proven Interventions that Can Protect Your Child when Playing Sports:

• Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should be well versed in the proper use of equipment and should enforce rules on equipment use.
• Helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of concussion, particularly in sports such as football, skiing and snowboarding.
• Children should have access to and consistently use the appropriate gear necessary for each respective sport.
• Among bicyclists, skateboarders and scooter riders, wrist guards can reduce wrist injuries by up to 87 percent, elbow pads can reduce elbow injuries by 82 percent and knee pads can reduce the number of knee injuries by 32 percent.
• Proper hydration and recognition of heat illness signs and symptoms (such as nausea, dizziness and elevated body temperature) can help reduce the risk of severe sports-related heat illness.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children take at least one day off from organized
physical activity each week and at least two to three months off from a particular sport per year to avoid over training or burnout.

 

Go to www.safekids.org for more information on keeping children safe while enjoying sports.

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The Added Benefits of Taking Music Lessons in Childhood

Kids playing music demonstrating the added benefits of taking music lessons in childhood

 Beyond the obvious benefits of learning music, a study looks at the added benefits of taking music lessons in childhood.

The study was published in the  Journal of Neuroscience.  It states that adults who took music lessons as children have a heightened ability to process sounds. They are also better at listening.

Northwestern University researchers looked at 45 adults who had music training in childhood and compared them to those with no musical training during childhood. Those with even a few years of musical training in childhood had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds.

The participants were divided into three groups: those with no musical training, those with one to five years of lessons, and those with six to 11 years. Most in the study had begun music lessons at about age nine.

The study found that those who had music lessons were better at hearing fundamental frequency. This is the lowest frequency in sound and is crucial for speech and music perception. It enables recognition of sounds in complex and noisy hearing settings.

In a university news release, Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology, physiology and communication sciences, stated “Musical training as children makes better listeners later in life,” She continued, “Based on what we know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning.

Many children take music lessons for a few years, but few continue with formal music instruction beyond middle or high school. We help address a question on every parent’s mind: ‘Will my child benefit if he or she plays music for a short while but then quits training?”

Note: While the research showed an association between musical training and better listening skills, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

(SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release.

More Information: The American Music Therapy Association: other benefits of music.

 

 

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New Year’s Resolutions: A Family Affair

 New Year’s resolutions are a family affair. Adults can help children to understand the meaning of resolutions, and how and why we make them.

The following New Year tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are offered to help parents encourage their children to make healthy resolutions.

resolutionsResolutions for Preschoolers

  • I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs or other pets, even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.
  • I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help, or  I am scared.
  • I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.

Resolutions for Kids, 5 to 12 years old

  • I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.
  • I will put on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible, and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get into a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends.I’ll asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
  • I will never encourage or even watch bullying, and will join with others in telling bullies to stop.
  • I’ll never give out private information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer.
  • I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
  • I promise to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.

Resolutions for Kids, 13 years old and older

  • I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day. I will drink sodas only at special times.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games.  I will spend only one to two hours each day, at the most on these activities.  I promise to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.
  • I will help out in my community by  giving some of my time to help others.  I will work with community groups or join a group that helps people in need.
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress.  I will exercise, read, write in a journal or talk about my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date.  I will always treat the other person with respect and not force them to do something or use violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
  • I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco, cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cellphone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

 

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