With the increased presence of technology in children’s products and toys, you may have come across the term smart toys. […]
Recently I was having a
conversation with a mother of three children under the age of six. She explained
to me that one of her current concerns is that the new preschool her
three-year-old was attending sends him home with homework. She was initially
shocked and confused considering her older child did not have this demand. Her
resolution was to adopt the saying from the 1980’s war on drugs campaign and to
“just say no” to the pressure this preschool was putting on her child. I
applaud her and encourage others to do the same.
Over the past ten years I
have seen as increase in the demands placed on preschoolers to perform tasks
that used to be introduced in kindergarten. I have had countless conversations
with parents explaining that one of the reasons their child cannot complete the
work given is become it is not developmentally appropriate. My resolution also
was to “just say no” to the caretaker because there is no rule that homework is
mandatory. In fact, the National PTA and the National Education Association created
a 10-minute Rule established after extensive research from Duke University. The
rule recommends that 10 minutes of homework is suggested starting in 1st
grade and adding another 10 minutes per grade. Therefore Kindergarten students
should not be issued any homework. Other research has also shown that an
overload of homework is associated with a decrement in performance. As a
therapist, I have noted that some children also suffer from decreased self-esteem
and stress on the small joints of their hands from too many expectations. Yet,
despite this rule, the average Kindergartener was found to be completing 25
minutes of homework daily.
How should you handle the
pressure to do homework in preschool? You can keep calm and politely let the
teacher know that your child will not be completing any homework at this age.
Instead you will spend the time playing. According to Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego,
most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than
informational or educational explanation. He states, “The trouble with
over-structuring is that it discourages exploration.” Hence, parents should take the time after school to
engage with their child by participating in playful exercise and activities
that improve and encourage creative, social, and fine motor skills like
building with toys, coloring, drawing, assembling, and even food preparation.
I hope you find this tip
helpful. If your child is having difficulty with age-appropriate activities for
a preschooler, talk with your pediatrician about consulting with an
occupational therapist for help. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play Curator
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist,
award-winning handwriting author, and founder of Playapy. For more information
about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We support this idea even though we do sell and recommend some toys and games.
When new parents start to purchase toys, the importance of safety starts to really set in mostly because of choking hazards. It is common to see warnings on toys that have small parts because typically children under three years old and especially babies are not able to differentiate between edible and inedible objects. Small children like to mouth objects as a normal part of their exploration and play skills. This is how they learn and understand concepts like size and textures. So as parents, you need to be careful and aware of what comes in the reach of a small child. You also don’t want to completely avoid exposing your children to small things because they also need to develop hand skills for grasping objects and coordinating the use of both hands.
Here are some simple activities to practice with a toddler to encourage sensory and fine motor play:
- Picking up and holding pieces of dried fruit like apricots.
- Sliding chopsticks through strawberries.
- Picking out marshmallows from a container of dry pasta spirals.
- Stringing cheerios onto a pipe cleaner.
- Putting crackers into a small open jar or bottle.
Remember to consult with your pediatrician if your child continues to try to eat or mouth inedible objects after age three. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play Curator