School Readiness: Standards Sunday

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” — Michael McGriffy, MD

As much as I want to blog every day, I know I must remain flexible with the concept.  It is not my bread-and-butter.  It doesn’t help me be a better parent.  I want to share my ideas daily for getting 0-36 month old children ready for school, but I know there will be days that are missed.  So, on that note, having missed the opportunity to post a quote on my blog on Friday and to post “Standards Saturday,” I give you the above quote and the following information for Standards Sunday.

Today’s standard is:  Demonstrates knowledge of appropriate health practices/behaviors to promote a safe and healthy community.  This kindergarten standard is taken from Fairfax County Public Schools.  Fairfax County is located just outside Washington, DC in northern Virginia.  The standard has five benchmarks that align with it.  The benchmark to be discussed today is:  Identify peaceful ways to resolve a conflict.

Learning conflict resolution skills begin long before a child enters pre-school or kindergarten.   They are learned when an infant and or toddler watches how the grown-ups around him resolve conflicts.  In an earlier post, I mentioned how children pick up on the tone of voices quite early in life, which means they are able to pick up on how adults use their voices to resolve conflicts.  Once vocabulary understanding begins, an infant or toddler begins to understand the words people use to resolve conflicts, such as whether there is name-calling or use of “I” statements (e.g., I don’t like when you do that, I feel sad when you say that to me, etc.).  An infant or toddler also observes carefully how adults around him use their bodies to communicate, such as whether there is hitting or pushing, angry or frustrated facial expressions, or fists or jaws clenched.  Finally, an infant or toddler knows when an object is thrown in a fit of anger or if a door is slammed in disgust.

The following are fun ways that help teach infants and toddlers how to resolve conflicts in peaceful ways:

1)  Hold up two stuffed animals.  Have one stuffed animal push the other one.  Pretend that the stuffed animal that was pushed begins to cry.  Have the “offending” stuffed animal apologize for not controlling his body (e.g., “I’m sorry I didn’t control my body.”).

2) Hold up two puppets.  Have one puppet say that a ball or toy car is his.  Have the other puppet say that the ball or toy car is his.  Repeat the exchange between the puppets 2-3 times.  Finally, have one puppet say that they should share the toy, which they then do.

3)  Hold up two dolls, preferably one that is bigger than the other.  Have the bigger doll hit or push the smaller doll.  Have the smaller doll say “I don’t like when you hit/push me!” in a firm voice.

4)  Draw two roads with an intersection on a piece of paper.  Have two cars come to the intersection at the same time from cross streets.  Talk to the child about how the cars must take turns going through the intersection or they will crash.  Talk about how important it is to wait your turn and to use your eyes and ears to figure out what the best solution to a problem is.

5) When putting on clothes, attempt to put on the child’s hat or sock.  When the child says “Mine” or “That’s mine!” (depending on the age of the child), tell him “Oh, you’re right.  Oops, I made a mistake.  Sorry.”

6)  Have two dolls or stuffed animals fight over the same toy.  Tell the toys “You have to share or the toy has to go in time-out.”  Demonstrate how the dolls/animals are able to share the toy, all the while using words such as “Sharing is fun” and “I like sharing with you.”

7)  Set up a tea party or snack for 2-3 stuffed animals or dolls.  Have another animal/doll come over and insist on sitting next to another doll/animal in a chair that is already taken by another doll/animal.  Present different scenarios in which the animals/dolls use their words to solve the problem.  Examples:  Sure, you can sit here.  I don’t mind (said by the animal/doll in the coveted seat);  You can sit next to me next time (said by a doll/animal that is next to the coveted chair); We can squeeze a chair in between the two chairs that are taken (said by any of the dolls/animals);  OK, I’ll pick a different chair (said by the doll/animal who wanted the taken chair).

8) Have a doll or stuffed animal grab a toy from another doll or animal.  Tell the “grabbing” doll/animal “Toys are not for grabbing” and return the toy to the doll/animal that had it first.  

9)  Present the same scenario in Number 8 above.  Have the second doll/animal use his words to say “Can I have a turn?”, after which the first doll/animal says “Sure” and gives the toy.

10)  Present the same scenario in Number 8 above.  Have the second doll/animal ask for a turn, but have the first doll/animal say “No.”  Explain to the second doll/animal that “_____ (Susie, Tiger, etc.) must not be in a good sharing mood right now.  When he’s ready to share, he will give you a turn.”  Have the first doll/animal play with the toy a bit longer and then have him give the toy to the second doll/animal saying “OK< you can have it now.”

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