Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Building Attention Span and Considering Others Feelings

Each month the Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador's get to discuss a focus topic.  It's fun to see everyone's take on it.  This month we are talking about Child Development: Social and Emotional - Self Concept, Social Relationships, Self Direction/Self Regulation and Communities.

This is important stuff!  One of the questions we were asked really strikes me.  How have you noticed Mother Goose Time to help your children build and maintain attention span?

Well I have the luxury of looking back now on almost 3 years of using Mother Goose Time with my children.  We have gone from no ability to focus to being able to work through a full day of school in one shot.  Of course this has been aided by all the fun ways MGT manages to teach the children with out them even knowing it.  But there is another huge part, and that is the training I have received through Mother Goose Time.

Over the years I have developed as an educator and learned some important tricks.  The one I think most pertains to this topic is how to keep a routine or schedule.  For us, if we don't keep our schedule, school is almost impossible to complete.  Our schedule is simple.  At 8 am we sit down to breakfast where we start our Circle Time.  We discuss and sing and then move into the first MGT lesson as soon as their cereal is eaten and the milk is wiped up off of the table.  Everyone starts their day with Mother Goose Time around here.

When the day does not follow our routine, it goes down hill quickly and their attention is lost.  I guess you could call our routine a way to set the children up for success. Once they are set up for success Mother Goose Time makes the rest easy by making the lessons fun and engaging.

Both my older boys (6 and 4) also use the More Math and More Literacy workbooks.  At first we used them in a very scattered and non routine way.  Now we end our day with a page in each book.  I am always pleasantly surprised when they sit down and work through the pages.  Some of the pages really capture their attention and they can remain focused on the task for quite a while.  I have been able to give them more and more freedom by getting them started and then walking away.  This allows them the opportunity to work on self direction, keeping themselves on task. 
Obviously, we were off of our routine and didn't get to the workbooks until the evening on this day. Peter just couldn't keep going.
Another reason why I am able to keep my boys attention is because Mother Goose Time has taught me to go with the flow.  They give you a starting point and a learning goal and you are free to adapt as needed.  If a child wants to go a new direction, they say, go!  You are not restricted by such rigid lesson structure where you feel the need to panic if you go off course.

The other question that stood out to me in regards to Social and Emotional Development asked, what MGT activity or activities did your child do this week where you noticed him playing cooperatively, taking turns or considering the feelings of others?

On this day we played a game that children play in France called Petanque [pay-tonk].  I set out a small basketball on the floor and gave them each a small bouncy ball that MGT provided.  They were to roll the bouncy ball towards the bigger ball.  Whoever got the closest to the big ball won!
This was a big hit, with everyone, including Adam (18 months) who wanted to sit in the middle and catch their balls as they rolled by.  They did so well dealing with him and taking turns.  When one boy won they didn't flip out as they do sometimes.  They just played again.

This skill is still a bit hit or miss for the boys.  Their mood has a lot to do with it as well as if we have stuck to the routine I mentioned before.  If we have gone off routine and it's getting to be later in the day, successful cooperative play is harder to come by.

But they have had a lot of practice over the years with Mother Goose Time.  Folder games and active play games like this one have given my boys many opportunities to play cooperatively, take turns and consider (or not consider as the case may be) others feelings.

The best part for me, was when I realized, that these scuffles and emotions we work through on a daily basis are important!  Sometimes I would feel like all I did was break up arguments and help my oldest deal with his anger and frustration.  But one glance at the Developmental Continuum of Skills and you quickly see that Social and Emotional Development is at the top of the list!  It is that important.  These early years set the foundation for how these children will interact with the people around them. This was such a great realization for me, it let me feel successful as an educator even if we didn't learn a new letter or figure out 2+2=4.  If I am able to teach my son how to control his anger and take turns, then I can count the day as a success.

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