Fine motor skills involve using the smaller muscle of hands, finger, and thumb. Developing fine motor skills is essential for common activities such as writing, buttoning, using scissors, and zippering. These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of toys, materials, and even foods.
What skills do fine motor skills include?
Why are fine motor skills important?
Fine motor skills are important for performing everyday tasks. Without the ability to complete these daily activities, children’s self-esteem can suffer along with their academic performance. They are also unable to develop appropriate independence in their life skills, such as dressing and feeding themselves.
How to encourage fine motor skill development
Children don’t need much prodding to seek new adventures but it takes time to master a new skill. With some encouragement, patience, and support from your side, children will be more confident about the tasks and eventually surprise you one day with their abilities.
So the next time you hear “Let me do it!” try to step back and let children try their hand at simple tasks like getting dressed or spreading jam on a toast. It will require some patience on your part, but it will be well worth the wait.
Squeeze the sponge:
Set up two separate bowls – one empty and the other filled with water. Let the child soak up the sponge with water and squeeze it out in the other bowl. The simple activity will strengthen the hands and forearms.
Make macaroni necklaces:
Stringing necklaces is a great way to improve children’s creativity and improve hand-eye coordination. To start, use a thick piece of string and large pieces of pasta. Over time, you can add different shaped dried pasta along with big, colorful beads to enhance children’s creative skills.
The idea of finger painting might sound a bit messy to you, but for children, it’s an important aspect of development. Finger painting allows children to improve fine motor skills by strengthening finger and hand muscles while encouraging precision and varied levels of pressure. Additionally, children learn more about colors, shapes, and patterns while showcasing their creativity.
If you are concerned about children marring furniture or walls during the art activity, set up an easel or a thick piece of paper in the yard, garage, or any other area that can be washed easily.
Don’t underestimate the power of the old-fashioned playdough. Manipulating playdough helps strengthen the muscles of children’s hands, improves creative skills, and develops hand-eye coordination. So let them squish, roll, and flatten it as much as you want to. But make sure you use a non-toxic form of playdough or better yet, extend the activity by making your own playdough. Recipes abound on the Internet and allow children to create their own colors, to boot!
Remember, the skills that children master today will help them gain a steady position once they advance towards formal learning in kindergarten and beyond. With some effort, children will gain one of the most important skills that will ultimately help them reach many more milestones in the future.
manager June 20th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
For many parents, choosing the right preschool for their child is as stressful as selecting the right college for a teen. There are so many schools out there with varying curriculum that it’s no surprise parents become overwhelmed.
Luckily, it’s a norm for most schools to hold open houses to give parents a glimpse of what to expect. Not just for new parents, these events are beneficial for parents whose children are already attending the particular school. By taking part in such events, you can see the children’s progress, meet up with teachers, and get a good look at the classrooms.
And of course, open houses are a great way to communicate with other parents. Regular school days are usually filled with the hustle and bustle of picking up and dropping off, but open houses provide a great opportunity to visit with fellow parents and share experiences.
To make the most of these events, follow these suggestions:
Go early: Try to reach the venue early so you have sufficient time to chat with other parents, teachers, and the leadership of the school. Sometimes, open houses follow a program and you don’t want to miss important introductions and information.
Talk to the teachers: Although these nights are not about individual children, they are perfect for getting to know the teachers, their expectations, and their personalities. This helps make future conversations more productive and pleasant.
Check out the curricula: The curriculum is a guide to what the children will be learning during the school year. Since different preschools follow different teaching philosophies, it may be a good idea to find out about them in advance.
Voice your concerns: Although an open house will not give you a chance to discuss specific issues your child is facing, you can still voice your concerns during the event. For example, if your child is complaining about not getting enough time to eat lunch, open house is the perfect place to get clarification on the duration of lunch time.
Volunteer: Most schools appreciate parent volunteers during trips, events, and with everyday classroom resources. As a parent, you might have your hands full, but remember, school is more than a pick-up, drop-off point. It’s a place where children spend most of their childhood. Seeing you there and helping out will go a long way in giving children a more meaningful school experience.
An open house is neither the place nor a setting to discuss your child’s unique needs. If your child is attending the specific school and you have a concern about his development or behavior – schedule a meeting in the future where you and the teacher can talk about the problems at hand.
manager May 31st, 2017
Many of us have heard the term infant stimulation but don’t know what it is or why it is important.
Infant stimulation is using specific activities to arouse babies’ senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. This helps in improving their attention span, curiosity, and memory which enables them to reach developmental milestones faster.
Recent research on children’s brain development has shown that infants’ environments have a dramatic effect on their growth. This impacts how well they think and learn as both children and adults.
There is no need for special training or products to stimulate the young mind. As parents and caregivers, we have several simple, free opportunities throughout the day to satisfy children’s natural desire to learn.
Make eye contact. Infants start recognizing faces much earlier than you think. You can make the most of the time when their eyes are open by maintaining eye contact with them. Talk to children while changing diapers and make funny faces. Remember, every time they stare at you they are building their recognition memory.
Interact with them. Instead of leaving children with their stuffed toys in the crib, make stuffed animals come to life. How? By giving them a voice and moving them around. This will enhance their imagination and encourage their creativity.
Play peek-a-boo. Lightly cover the baby’s face with a blanket and talk to her, so she can hear even when her eyes are closed. Pull the blanket away with a “peek-a-boo!” This will not only bring a few giggles but will also teach her that Mom may disappear for a while but she always comes back.
Grab a tissue. Most young babies love pulling out tissue from the box. It may be a few cents’ loss for you but tissues are one of the best sensory play items. Young children can crumple them, tear them, or smooth them out. The key is to allow them to explore their environment safely.
Read books. No one can disagree with the importance of reading. Young infants might not be able to follow the story but they will definitely enjoy seeing the colorful pictures and the sound of your voice. Plus, reading is a great way to connect with children and spend some one-on-one time with them.
Point out differences. Choose two pictures that are similar but have a minor difference and display them. Even the youngest infant will go back and forth between the pictures trying to distinguish the similarities and differences. Simple games like this one engage the mind and babies’ natural curiosity.
Let them smell YOU. Avoid exposing young children to artificially scented perfumes and deodorants. Instead, let them get used to your unique smell. Hold them, cuddle them, and give them lots of kisses in order to enhance their oxytocin, aka the ‘love’ hormone.
Include them. Whether you are going somewhere or trying a new food, engage children by telling them everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. You may not realize it, but this gives children endless vocabulary-building opportunities.
Always remember, stimulation works best when babies are alert and giving you their complete attention. If you find your infant losing interest or acting tired, it’s time for less stimulation and a rest.
By applying these simple tips regularly, your baby will not only grow intellectually but will also grow more in love with you. Nothing can replace quality time together, so make the most of your time with your infants.
manager May 19th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
“I’ll do it myself!” If you’re a parent of a preschooler, you’ve likely heard this a thousand times.
Of course, it’s usually when you are running late that 4-year-old Cathy decides to put on her own socks and shoes. So you help her – but this time only!
Preschool experts say that children should be encouraged whenever they wish to exert their independence. Even though they may need plenty of parental help, preschoolers are typically able to do more than we expect from them.
So how can we as parents encourage their independence?
According to Diane Kinder, PhD and a professor at the University of Washington, “It takes more time in the beginning to teach independence, but in the long run, it benefits both parent and child.”
Here are some tips to encourage independence in young children:
As parents, we struggle when our children struggle. But have patience, take a step back, and watch from the sidelines so your children can learn new skills – regardless of the time it takes.
manager May 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Tips
You are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the playground when suddenly you hear a loud wail. Imagining it is your toddler, you rush to the area where children are playing and are horrified to find your child’s playmate sporting a teeth-imprinted arm while the mother of the victim gives you (and your kid) cold stares.
As much as you want to sink into the ground with embarrassment, you remain (somewhat) calm, apologize, and remove your child from the scene.
Surprisingly, biting and hitting are normal parts of childhood development. By the time children are in preschool, most of them have bitten or hit at least once and have also been on the receiving end of an unfriendly blow.
Why Children Bite And Hit?
Children become aggressive for a number of reasons.
How To Stop Biting and Hitting?
In all instances, don’t throw a tantrum or spank children when they behave negatively. Using the retaliation protocol can teach children that violence causes violence. But of course, don’t leave the issue as it is – children should know that their behavior is wrong and should not be repeated.
Even with the best prevention methods, incidents will happen until children grow out of the phase, which most children do after a certain age. So stay firm and keep teaching children empathy. Give your kids the tools to deal with conflict constructively.
manager April 17th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Tags: 2 year olds, behavior, biting, child development, children, education, family time, hitting, learning, Montessori, Montessori classroom, Montessori Method, Older Children, parenting, pre-school, school, school age kids, Small Children, sugar land, toddlers
Summer is just around the corner and we all know what this means – warm sunshine, outdoor activities, maybe a vacation, and best of all – freedom from SCHOOL! Undoubtedly, kids get up early to work hard at school approximately nine months a year, so they deserve a fun-filled break to recharge their batteries. They should be able to enjoy their summers, just as adults do.
But where do academics fit in? Should we press “pause” on all learning materials and expect children to just pick up where they left off when the new school year starts in the fall? Is summer vacation all about sleeping until late morning, watching TV, playing video games, and hanging with friends?
According to education experts, children are in constant learning mode when they are in school. But as soon as the final bell rings, their focus changes and the academic skills they acquired throughout the year simply slip into the background. This results in an academic loss that hurts them when they return to school. To make matters worse, teachers must then spend countless days reviewing previously learned material, time that could be better spent learning new concepts.
This is why it is important for parents to stay involved with children during summer holidays and set aside a specific time each day when they can review and enforce what they learned throughout the school year. Summer months are also a great opportunity for students to strengthen the areas in which they are weak.
The same goes for preschoolers. Since they are just developing various social, mental, and emotional skills, the summer months are a great time to polish and strengthen these skills so children don’t forget their newly acquired abilities.
Learning is a lifelong process and should not be pushed aside for TV shows, video games, and long slumbers. The beauty of the summer months is that they give children a chance to have fun while learning.
The summer holidays are a great time to catch up on reading material with children. Plan to visit the library and allow children to select books of interest. Consider participating in a library reading program that rewards children for reading.
At home, set a designated reading hour every day where each family member can enjoy a quite reading time.
You can also put together a summer reading list for each member of the family and celebrate the completion of each book with rewards.
Provide children with space and materials that encourage creativity and imagination. This can be anything from paper and art supplies to Legos and building blocks and even sculpting materials for older children.
Art plays a vital role in children’s development and enhances fine motor skills, problem-solving capabilities, concentration, and even confidence. So give children different art supplies and watch their imagination unfold.
Children not only suffer from lack of academic activities but they also become couch potatoes due to lack of participation in scheduled physical activities. Encourage them to stay active by enrolling them in a team sport, going swimming, taking walks together, and bicycling in the park.
Remember playing outdoors for several hours a day leads to improved concentration and better academic performance.
Use the summer holidays as an opportunity to visit all your city has to offer such as the museum, zoo, and the science center. If you are planning a vacation out of the city or state, make a point to tour historical landmarks and teach your kids what makes each area so special.
Learning can also happen in your own backyard or in pots on your balcony. Select some seeds and plant a vegetable garden. Take turns watering them daily. Extend the activity by having children decorate or paint the pots to personalize them.
Apart from all the above-mentioned activities, don’t forget to enjoy your fair share of carnival rides, movies, and lazy pool days. A balance of learning and fun will be the perfect combination for the perfect summer.
manager March 27th, 2017
Posted In: Tips
Five toddlers are in a playgroup. Within the group, Emily learns to say the names of the shapes first. Jeff is the first to climb the monkey bars while his twin sister Kim watches cautiously from the sidelines before diving into any new adventure. The fourth child, Steve, can usually be found studying board books in the corner of the room while Jaclyn delights in hands-on play with mud, sand, and water.
Kids of all age groups pick up information in different ways. Educators have long proclaimed that children have their own distinct learning style and the “one-size-fits-all” theory can’t be applied to children in a typical classroom setting.
Researchers have agreed that there are three primary learning styles: auditory, tactile/kinesthetic, and visual. Most children (and adults) utilize a combination of these learning styles while a handful follow mostly one. Understanding your child’s learning style at an early age can help them become better learners and reduce frustrations as they progress to an advanced classroom.
Learning Styles Explained
Auditory: These types of learners prefer listening to explanations rather than reading. They are also more likely to:
Tactile/Kinesthetic: The tactile and kinesthetic learners process information through touch and move method. They usually prefer to move around while learning and often “talk” with their hands. They also like to touch objects to learn more about them.
A note to remember: These types of learners are often referred to as “troublemakers” because they are unable to sit still and are often found fidgeting when asked to sit for long periods of time. In the right environment, however, these learners thrive and often become the innovators of the future.
Visual: Just like the name suggests, visual learners pick up information by watching. One of the most dominant learning styles, the visual learning method is the most used in traditional classrooms. Children who are visual learners are more likely to understand new learning material by:
Children who are visual learners are less able to perform well when they are just given instructions and would rather be shown how to do something practically.
Is there a fourth type of learner?
Experts have also discovered a fourth learning style, the logical or analytical learner. These types of learners explore and understand the concept before indulging further. Similar to Kim in playgroup, logical learners ask a lot of questions and are more able to grasp information from a young age.
Discover your child’s learning style.
We sometimes assume that there is only one right way to teach children a particular skill. But if we adapt the learning methods to make them more appropriate to the style children prefer, there is no skill the child cannot learn.
manager March 10th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
Creativity is all about expressing oneself. It is all about being imaginative and trying new things. There is a misconception that creativity is limited to arts, crafts, music, dance, and writing. But creativity has no bounds and can be expressed in other areas of life as well.
It is sometimes assumed that children are more creative while others lack the talent. However, that is not the case and each one of us (including children) is capable of expressing ourselves in a unique way.
Of course, some children do get lost in the wonders of their imagination easily while others require more prompting. It is up to the parents, teachers, and other caregivers to encourage children and use real life experiences to spark their creativity which makes them more confident and competent learners in the future.
Here are some ideas to spark kids’ creativity:
Children are born curious. They ask a lot of questions. Listen to them and inspire their imagination by asking them more questions. Make them wonder, “What if” and “What would have happened if we had a dinosaur for a pet?”
As much as we want to interfere, it is sometimes better to stand back and watch from afar. Let children play their own games without trying to manage them.
Limit TV and computer games.
TV programs and computer games are enjoyable for some time but children should not be allowed to zone in on the screen for long periods of time. Screen time should always be limited for young children.
Create art pieces with children.
Foremost, parents should keep an abundant supply of art materials in their home. From simple items such as papers and crayons to adornments like rhinestones, gems, and beads, children should have access to all and encouraged often to create pieces of art with them. It is also a good idea to sit down with children once in a while and make crafts together.
Encourage pretend play.
Young children love to play pretend with dolls, costumes, and accessories. Stock up on old dresses, Halloween costumes, hats, jewelry, and any other items that can help children jump into a new role. Keep them all accessible for children so they can enter the world of make believe whenever they like.
Read to children.
Books open a gateway for children to unlock their creative and imaginative potential. Read as often as you can. Make reading fun by changing your tone of voice or dressing up as the character in the book. Ask them to draw characters from their favorite book or allow them to act out the scenes from the story.
Most importantly, be a positive role model for children and enjoy the fun, creative, and imaginative life. If your children seeing you living life, they will do the same!
manager February 10th, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education
The ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand starts at birth. These skills are considered the key to success in school and practical life. Researchers also agree that the time frame from birth to the age of 8 years is crucial for children’s development.
Although children learn primarily from their homes, preschool teachers also play an important role in laying the foundation for early literacy development. By exposing children to expanding vocabulary, knowledge, and experiences, the teachers at Montessori Kids Universe use a variety of fun and engaging strategies to develop literacy in the classroom.
Here are some literacy activities that are favorites in our classroom:
Reading aloud is one of the most important activities teachers and parents can do with children. In classrooms at Montessori Kids Universe, children gather in a circle while the teacher reads from a book holding it up so children can see and discuss the illustrations. The teachers also ask the children to make future predictions which enhances their understanding about how stories are structured.
Reading aloud builds many important foundation skills including introduction to new vocabulary, provides children with a model of fluent reader, and helps children gain an interest in what reading for pleasure is all about.
Nursery rhymes provide great opportunities for children to learn early language and vocabulary skills. The repetition of rhymes teaches children how phonics work and sharpens their memory capabilities. According to experts, children who know eight nursery rhymes by heart at the age of four are usually amongst the best readers and spellers by the time they reach grade 3.
Most importantly, rhymes are fun and considered a great group activity where even the shyest students become confident as they take part in singing, dancing, and acting with their fellow classmates.
Whether the stories are read from a book or told from the mind, children love to hear them. Good stories not only teach children new vocabulary but also enhances their emotions. Done correctly, this time should be interactive and allow children to take part by asking questions.
Usually, children talk more than they listen. However, by encouraging them to participate in storytelling sessions, they develop the habit of listening and become better listeners in the future.
Preschoolers at Montessori Kids Universe are surrounded by printed words. They are everywhere around the classroom – bulletin boards, cubicles, furniture, and materials are all labeled so children can learn to correspond spoken words to written ones.
Alphabet and numbers
Learning letters and numbers is crucial to the foundation of education for preschoolers. Through various activities and resources, children are taught to recognize and distinguish letters and numbers. In fact, every material found in the Montessori classroom is designed to be used in multiple ways over the months or years students spend in the classroom. Children don’t tire of the materials because the possibilities for learning are endless.
To see Montessori learning in action, check us out and schedule a tour at www. MontessoriKidsSugarLand.com.
manager January 16th, 2017
Posted In: About MKU
A New Year has started and most of us have resolved to make ourselves better in one way or other in the year 2017. Although most New Years resolutions focus primarily on developing healthy habits, we at Montessori Kids Universe have another one for our parents – to foster reading habits in young children that encourage them to be better readers.
Every day you and I and millions of parents around the world feed and care for their children so they grow into happy and healthy individuals; however, we should also provide them with all the essentials that enhance their learning abilities.
Reading plays an important role in the growth and development of children. Studies have shown that children who are read to from an early age are likely to do better when transferred to formal education. Through stories, children are exposed to a wide variety of words which further enhance their language skills. Additionally, reading is a great form of entertainment and can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.
Sadly, in a world full of television, video games, and mobile devices – getting children to read and taking the time out to read TO them is becoming a challenge on its own. However, if reading skills are established at an early age – children grow up to be better learners, listeners, and speakers.
So, this New Year, let’s all join hands and make a resolution that we will encourage better reading habits in our children. To help you out, here are some tips that you can apply on a regular basis.
Create a habit of reading to children every day. Whether it’s at night before sleeping or after school – set aside at least 20 minutes when you put everything aside and read different books together. By following a set schedule, children will understand that reading is an important activity and will look forward to spending more time with you.
FILL CHILDREN’S ROOMs WITH BOOOKS!
Purchase plenty of books that are in accordance with your child’s age group and keep them at their reaching level. For budget-friendly options, you can also visit Book Fairs and thrift shops. The more variety children have, the more they will be encouraged to read or ask you to read to them.
BE A ROLE MODEL!
Children do what they see. Instead of fiddling around all day with your smartphone, let them see you reading. Show them how much you enjoy reading books and magazines to encourage them as well.
GET A LIBRARY CARD!
Visits to libraries are always fun. Take children to the nearest library and allow them to find books that they would like to read. Let them choose in order to build their interest level and confidence as well.
Reading should not be limited to books only. Make it fun by reading signs on shops when you are travelling or on everyday items such as cereal and milk boxes, toothpaste, and juice bottles.
Try these tips with your young ones and start 2017 in the right way – by giving children the gift of reading which they can cherish for a lifetime.
manager January 3rd, 2017
Posted In: Montessori Education