Do you feel the rhythm that comes with the beginning of a new year? The kind that puts a spring into your step? That time of season that has you reflecting on the year that was and setting new goals for the year ahead? I hear you, my friends. Us too!
Along with this we are embracing the last few weeks of the school holidays and the extra opportunities available to connect with our little ones.
Perhaps CONNECTION is your 2021 Word of the Year or it is the essence of what you are keen to achieve this year with your family. Whichever it may be…here are our Top 4 ways to boost daily connection with your early learners… ways that you can embrace and start with straight away.
- ‘SIT WITH ME’ Time - this is a designated time each day (not necessarily bound by time) to sit with your learners, either together or individually, to complete a set activity for the time the entire task takes – giving it your full attention. It provides quality one on one time with your learners, can promote language development as you talk with your learner/s, build anticipation with your learner/s as you all look forward to this time together each day and create long lasting memories as you fill one another’s cups. We have found the Hand in Hand Activity Kits to be the perfect tool for this time in our daily rhythm because all of the resources are ready to go, with instructions and ideas, several activities to last the week and they foster early learning skills (noted on the instruction sheet). The Hand in Hand Kits offer a range of themes to choose from along with the versatility of two age groups to select from - toddler and pre-schooler. These kits are ideal as they reduce the overwhelm involved with prepping and thinking of an idea…everything you need is there and ready to go.
- CREATE A DAILY RHYTHM - Daily rhythms and routines are our brains favourite way of learning; it brings flow to our days and fosters familiarity and comfort which little learners love to have in their day. This is similar to a daily schedule, although, it is not bound by set times, it rather follows a rhythmic flow to the day – doing the same things in the same order each day but not always at the same time. By doing the same things each day we are developing and practising a daily habit of making time to do more of the things that matter most to us. So, if you are looking for greater opportunities to connect with your little ones…plan for it…write it down and make it happen. As with our brain loving rhythms and routines, our brain is more likely to take action on a task that is written down. Amazing right?
Yet we are hardwired for play and exploration as well as for joining with one another.
Tina Payne Brsyon and Daniel Siegal
- ‘READ WITH ME’ Time – Reading with little ones is a rich and meaningful way to connect with our little learners…as each page is read and turned their imaginations and curiosity are stimulated along with opportunities to engage in social and communication situations.
‘Read with Me’ Time works similarly to ‘Sit with Me’ time and links to creating a daily rhythm – our previous two tips. It is a designated time each day (not necessarily bound by time) to read with your learners, either together or individually, to read a book or more. Did you know the Hand in Hand Activity Kits provide an option to add a related picture book to the themed box? This is handy as it allows for integrated learning and builds upon your little learners’ prior knowledge which is a valuable teaching strategy that fosters skills in early learning.
- CREATE SPACES AND SYSTEMS THAT FIT YOUR LIFE – the space we live in and the systems we use have remarkable influence on us as they nurture relationships and connections, persuade our moods, provide us with a sense of belonging and in many cases give us back time so we can do more of the things that matter to us. So, to the families that are on the hunt for greater opportunities to connect with their early learners…set up your home in a way that serves you best. This will look different from family to family, as our needs, wants and situations all vary. So, for some this might focus on meal planning, developing a laundry schedule, decluttering the home, outsourcing household chore/s, setting up an inviting play space with positive learning invitations or something totally different or perhaps even a mix of a few things…whichever it is for you…the goal is to create spaces and systems that best fit your life. And quite often, this will change frequently with little learners as they grow and change.
‘Design is a plan for arranging elements in a way that best accomplishes a particular purpose’
It wouldn’t be a celebratePLAY blog if we didn’t leave you with a set of actionable steps to help you get started right away.
- Start small – reflect on your daily rhythm and identify which part of the day, is the most serviceable time for you to connect with your little ones.
- Then, jot down ONE way you are going to try to boost daily connection with your little ones – eg, ‘Sit with Me’ time or creating a space that fits your life.
- Once you have established your needs, build on this to increase the time for and/or quality of connection based on your and the needs of your little learners.
Remember, writing things down, helps to make it happen. It is also a great keepsake to look back on in years to come.
Now, I know that the Hand in Hand community has a wealth of knowledge and experience with play and using themed activity kits, so if you have an idea, hand hint, experience to share on how these kits work for you, please drop them in the comments below. We can learn so much from those around us and it is always nice to inspire a fellow PLAYmate.
Erin is a Mum of two little learners, wife, Early Childhood and Primary School teacher aswell as the bizMum behind celebratePLAY. She lives a busy and play filled life in Sydney. Her greatest passions are organisation, gift-giving, helping others and lifelong learning.
You can find her:
Website - www.celebrateplay.com.au
Insta – www.instagram.com/celebrate_play