We are at the end of April 2020 during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Schools are shuttered and parents are tasked with schooling their children. The education experience for families could not be more diverse. Advice on what our children should and should not be doing is various and difficult to navigate.

Parents are understandably confused about what this time should be for. It is appealing to throw in the towel or endure the challenging times you may have with your children - in hopes for a better day to come.

However, what if there were three areas you could focus on right now that will help your child to develop (at any age) and quite possibly make your family life stronger and richer?

Let's explore what those could be -

Perspective Taking

There are many benefits to having a strong understanding of varied perspectives.

  • children can understand their own experiences and those experiences of others
  • children comprehend what their teachers expect of them
  • peer relationships are improved
  • reading becomes more meaningful
  • comfort forms around the varied approaches to a math problem
  • confidence is built with writing and sharing one's ideas
  • appreciation for art, music, drama is formed
  • improve family interactions
  • stronger affinity for problem-solving vs. shutdown and conflict

How can you build your child's perspective-taking abilities?

Early Childhood

  • Play pretend
  • Share ideas for handling meltdowns or dysregulation through books and characters on TV
  • Make faces and name the emotions that go along with them
  • Read stories and talk about the varied experiences of the characters
  • Look at buildings of blocks or legos from different points of view
  • Take photos of work and label various perspectives it connects to

Middle Elementary- Middle School

  • Ask your child to explain their perspective of a situation you think you have a good handle on
  • When your children argue, interview them each, and learn their perspectives
  • Help your child to feel understood by repeating what they say

Communication

"The difference between knowing three thousand words and knowing fifteen thousand words when you arrive at kindergarten is enormous. The child who knows three thousand words knows words like shoes and milk and jump. The child who knows fifteen thousand words knows words like choice [and] possibility - words that index a more complex array of possibilities for dealing with the world." - Catherine Snow, professor at Harvard University School of Education.

Children develop communication through multi-disciplinary activities, not solely reading and writing, but also mathematics, science, history, music, art, drama, Face Time calls, play with siblings and parents, magic, chess, sports, video games.

How can you improve your child's communication?

  • Start by talking about what your child is interested in
  • Bring joy and purpose into communication - a reluctant reader and writer or explainer in math can be unaware of the power of their voice and communication
  • Ask hypothetical questions about life
  • Narrate your child's life or yours
  • Tell stories about your life or theirs (beginning (characters, setting), middle (conflict/problem) and end (solution))
  • Relate their lives to the stories they read
  • Expose your child to a variety of content
  • Make meaning from math - build the arithmetic & show what is happening to the values or the application of the math
  • Enjoy the process of communication
  • Draw pictures
  • Allow your children to play with books
  • Show your children exemplars of writing and study them together
  • Make music
  • Talk through games such as Chess or Cards
  • Talk about why one writes (to express ideas and share a voice)
  • Encourage your child to talk about ideas by asking Why and How questions

Purpose

"A sense of purpose brings about an experience of focus and calm during which an individual can extract their curiosities and gifts and set out to improve themselves and the world in sheer delight." - Mary Miele, Founder of Evolved Education

Children who engage in literacy and number sense, as well as other important content areas over time, are refining and developing their cognition in important ways. They are making continual connections between and among the content they learn - strengthening these neuropathways and increasing their exposure to various purposes in the world.

How can you develop a strong purpose for your child?

  • Understand child development and what milestones your child should be meeting (see CDC Guideline resources below)
  • Allow your child time and space to create, innovate and solve problems
  • Ask them about their schoolwork and push that conversation toward a connection to a purpose (maybe increased exposure to content, increased skills, critical thinking, inferencing, analysis etc.)
  • Highlight elements of the JOURNEY which are purposeful (ex. being vulnerable, courageous, brave, innovative and of course taking risks, failing, & learning)
  • Make connections among activities to bring value to them by naming similarities, creating
  • Play board games to teach numbers within a purposeful context
  • Show exemplars for writing, reading, mathematics, and more

Resources

If you have further questions, email Mary Miele at mary@evolveded.com.