Her interest in children around her own age is more mature with the emergence of the ability to play with and not just alongside them. She should be far more co-operative in things like getting dressed, and her daytime bladder control should be good except for an occasional accident. Night-time control is unlikely, and she may still need a bottle or dummy to help her fall asleep. She should be able to follow simple instructions, and will probably enjoy imitating adults at work. Give her practice in the all-important skill of listening and interpreting accurately what she hears by giving her little instructions such as: Put the blue mug on the round table. This may sound perfectly simple but it is not easy for a child to do.

Later on you can make the instructions more complicated, but beware of becoming impatient or scornful if she does not get it right. Simply take her by the hand and, repeating the instruction, go through the required motions. The ability to carry out instructions is vital in the school learning situation and many children cannot do it effectively when they start school which saddles them with an unnecessary handicap.

Imagination. Imaginative play and pretend games are a sign of developing intellect and many children conjure up an imaginary friend. This is a sign of sound development as long as the friend does not take on the role of scapegoat for all the childs unacceptable behaviour. Although the child should not be allowed to avoid the consequences of her actions by blaming them on the imaginary friend, you must try to sort out the reasons for the behaviour. It could be suppressed anger or jealousy, or some other conflict.

Playing with equipment. All the skills which have been acquired and practised during the first two years of life are now used to greater effect. She should enjoy riding a tricycle, climbing outdoors, playing on a jungle gym, building fairly elaborate structures with blocks or found objects, dressing up and pretend games.

In order to lay the foundations for maths, science and number concepts, you should also acquaint your child with the basic concepts involved in maths, science and numbers, just as you do language. There is no need for these subjects to be thought of as only for boys or particularly difficult. There is nothing really difficult or mysterious about mathematical concepts they are all around us and we use them every day. The only problem about getting your child started is that she will probably soon outgrow your ability to answer her questions! But that is a kind of privileged situation you will have to cope with later On the other hand you may not have to spend so much time helping with homework.

Firstly there should be no separate time for learning. It should form an integral part of your everyday living. Although these ideas are placed under the three year old category, they can be started as early as you like, the earlier the better. By three, your child should be initiating many of the directions you take and really consolidating her basic knowledge.

Number concepts. Right from the start you can watch out for opportunities for introducing numbers into her experience. In infancy, when she is lying on her blanket and you are playing with her feet you could start counting her toes. Do it so that she can see them and squeeze each toe as you go along. One two three four five toes. Then hold them all together and say five toes. Theres no need to go over five in the first few years. She must really get to understand the fact of numbers in every possible context. This is the important thing, not being able to count to a hundred.

Take every opportunity to point out that five can be made up in different ways.


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