‘Scribbling’ – The Hidden Meaning

 

Adults see scribbling, but for children it is their masterpiece!

Mark making is a very important phrase of a child’s development. It is a visual way to communicate and interact in a meaningful way with adults in their lives, as well as developing their coordination, creativity and literacy skills.

The phases of scribbling in young children can be categorised:

  1. Random scribbling – this first phrase is the very beginning of children showing interest in holding a pencil making random marks, typically this can be seen as lines in different directions.
  2. Controlled scribbling – this next stage shows the child having much more control over the pencil and will leave marks where they want to on the paper.
  3. Naming of scribbling –  at this stage the child is thinking more into the mark making action. They are beginning to make links with their marks on the paper and the world around them, this could be something that is meaningful to them in their life, a personal experience or object.
  4. Early representational attempts – at this stage, the child’s drawing may start to resemble real-life images, because they have greater muscle control and a greater understanding of the world around them.
  5. Representational stage of scribbling –  in the last and final stage children will draw basic objects, this usually starts with circular shapes. It might be their own personal version, e.g. they may draw five circles together and call it a car.

As adults we should provide opportunities for children to mark make it their own way. This doesn’t always have to be using a pencil and paper. Try sticks in the mud, flour and a paint brush or their finger dipped in paint. The possibilities are endless.

Life Skills

As our children grow older we want them to be able to look after themselves and be independent. We want them to head out into the big wide world prepared so the future seems exciting. This starts from a early age and children as young as two will be beginning to learn new life skills everyday. This may be zipping up their coat, helping to put the washing away at home or learning to cook in the kitchen. It is never too early to start.

Montessori talks about ‘practical life activities’. “Practical life activities are applicable for all ages, even infants, and change depending on what the child can do at each stage of development. The activities can start with something as simple as pulling pants up or washing hands and can get as complicated as baking a dessert, or even developing a business plan in the elementary or middle school years.”

“When taken seriously and presented as an approachable, impactful challenge, these activities hold inherent dignity. It’s not “just” getting dressed or “just” juicing an orange if one is doing it oneself. The child is learning to follow a complex motor sequence, independently, in order to fulfil his or her own desires and needs. These skills, when taught early in life, allow children to believe in themselves as well as develop the self-discipline needed for success throughout their lives.” (The Importance of Practical Life Activities Within the Montessori Method)

This week in the Woodland we have been cooking on the fire. We all helped to chop the vegetables and prepare the food. First we washed our hands, put on a aprons and discussed why these steps were important. We used chopping boards and safety knifes to cut up the butternut squash, rhubarb and onion before roasting on the fire. The fire itself gives children experiences of safe risk taking and supports their understanding of boundaries at Nursery. We even got to devour our delicious creation for dinner!

 

Healthy Eating and Portion Control

 

It is important to keep a healthy well balanced diet for young children for their health and well-being. It is advised to ensure children eat from all four food groups everyday to maintain the nutrients they need.

However, a huge factor is portion control! This is just as important, if not the most important part for a healthy, well balanced diet. It can be easy to think the more they eat the better, overfeeding can be harmful and have some lastly effects, for example, obesity or diabetes.

It can be difficult to understand the correct portions for some foods, especially taking into consideration the size, age and personality of the child.

The appetites of children can vary considerably from day- to- day, meal-to- meal and from child- to- child. Their appetite can be influenced by age, gender, activity level, growth spurs, puberty and whether the child is unwell or recuperating from being ill. There are no specific recommendation on how much a child should be eating, however this is just a guide.

This chart is a useful guide for portion control: (Portions and Serving Sizes – HealthyChildren.org)

Portions and Serving Sizes - HealthyChildren.orgSome top tips to support meal times:

  • Gradually increase portion sizes as the child grows older.
  • Avoid over filling plates as this can be off putting for younger children particularly for fussy eaters.
  • Ensure that the proportions on the plate are correct.
  • Offer small portions to begin with and allow second helpings if they eat it all.
  • Remember that second helpings should still be nutritionally balanced, so ensure that they include food from each food group and not just the food group/s that children prefer.
  • Offering second helpings of the vegetables, salad or fruit is a good idea to ensure your child gets plenty of vitamins and minerals but not too much energy.

 

The Benefits of Climbing

 

One of the first instincts for a young child is to climb. To pull themselves up, a way of getting up the stairs or to explore their surroundings. When let loose at nursery outdoors, young children need assess to climbing equipment to cater for their instincts and t0 take risks.

School readiness is a huge topic of interest for both practitioners and parents. Nurseries and pre-schools must create an environment that prepares young children for the big jump into school. Climbing frames/equipment in nurseries will improve children’s confidence and help prepare children for larger climbing challenges for primary school, both physically and mentally, which is all vital to settle in.

  • Improved Dexterity – Climbing will develop children’s fine motor skills, their grip and grasp. This in turn will support them in hand writing later on in the classroom.
  • Confidence – Children might feel a little nervous at first about climbing new equipment, however in time children will learn to take safe risks and to overcome their fears.
  • Physical Strength – Climbing will build children’s physical strength, developing their gross motor skills for a healthier more active lifestyle.
  • Problem-solving skills – While climbing children will develop critical thinking skills, to figure out which moves to take, which foot to put where.
  • Safe Risk Taking -Children will learn to take safe risks and will experience falls and mistakes that they will learn from.

At our Woodland setting we have made a great climbing challenge for the children using a big net hanging from the trees. The children have to work hard and use their climbing skills. This has become very popular. It has been wonderful to see the children’s skills develop and their confidence grow.