September 11, 2017 Carol Miller

5 Critical Skills Children Learn Through Learning Activities

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I remember, countless times as a kid, when I would pepper my parents with every question imaginable.

Why is the sky blue?

Do toads give you warts?

What is the distance between the sun and the moon?

Who is the fastest NFL football player?

Where is Alaska?

Who…What…Where…Why…and on and on.

The combination of learning to talk and verbalizing your thoughts coupled with a burning curiosity is a powerful combination!

Kids are natural, enthusiastic learners; their instinct is to ask questions, to probe, to explore, examine, and experiment.

This all comes naturally with a burning curiosity about the universe and a need to comprehend things.

They grow, learn, and internalize through interactive experiences, with each other, with family members and the real world along with real materials that require using all of their senses.

Parents need to spend time with their kids working on open-ended activities and hands-on materials throughout the year as they develop.

Play is an active form of learning that involves the whole body, both mentally and physically.

Cognitive development is accomplished through child-initiated exploration and discovery which are two aspects of the benefits of play.

However, children need to be exposed to and learn certain tactics and skills, such as making decisions, following through and carrying out plans, cooperating and sharing with others along with problem-solving to play and learn independently.

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All of the skills we require in life have to be learned.

As a parent, your job is to:

  • Observe and listen
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Demonstrate what to do when your child needs help
  • Support their first attempts without interfering
  • Participate in activities
  • Have an active, engaging discussions with your kids about what they learned and accomplished
  • Help your child make discoveries and connections between events and items
  • Share your knowledge and expertise

Most importantly, you should not take ownership of the activities; let them figure out what they are trying to attain and how best to help them achieve it.

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The Importance of hands-on learning cannot be underestimated.

Kids learn more and absorb lessons quickly when they enjoy it. Using fun games and activities motivates your child to want to learn.

5 critical skills that children learn through learning activities:

Children develop their social skills using fun-filled games and interactive activities.

Building up social skills in children prepares them for a lifetime of healthier interactions in every aspect of life.

Social skills are an essential part of functioning in society.

Displaying good manners, communicating effectively with others, being considerate of the feelings of others and expressing personal needs are important components of social skills.

As parents, we have a duty to help our children develop these important skills.

How to Teach Kids Social Skills

    1. Developing good, solid eye contact shows others that we are interested in what they have to say and that we have belief in our ability to listen.
    2. Capacity to read faces and interpret emotions is a skill that is essential at home, in school, and on the playground. Misunderstandings arise from kids misinterpreting the feelings of others. Sometimes kids can be perplexed by what a particular look means. They may easily confuse a look of disappointment and think someone is mad, or they may mistake an anxious expression for a funny one.
    3. The ability to stay on topic in a conversation is an essential life skill. Often it is hard for children to stay on topic and take part of a regular conversation. This is impulse control that can be learned with simple games such as playing a game with the alphabet where each letter has to be the start of a word in a theme such as fruit or vegetable: for example, A is for apple, B is for banana, C is for carrot and so on.
    4. Allowing kids to interact with each other, with older and younger siblings along with family members while building a fun, interactive science experiment or playing a math game teaches them the requirement to be patient as others are taking their turn in the activity or while the science experiment is being put together.
    5. Discussing feelings with your children is important. By asking how they feel, they begin to learn speech connected with those feelings and can later use those words to discuss their feelings. This assists them with the transition from talking about feelings instead of acting out their frustrations.
    6. Teaching our children to be independent is critical for them to grow into well-rounded adults. While limits are necessary, so are expectations. Rather than making simple tasks a chore, frame them in a positive way that teaches them and get them excited about being independent.
    7. Encourage social interaction by letting your child play with neighbors and friends. This will begin to build their confidence to make more friends as well as practice and enhance their social skills.
    8. More advanced social skills are the result of modeling older kids and adults. As a parent, you should play role-playing games and take a leading role in your helping your child learn to be socially active.
    9. Allow your child to participate in science experiments and other activities where your child has to work with others to complete a task. This is an excellent way to teach cooperation and teamwork.

The basics of empathy are taught first via early nurturing experiences from parent to child.

Sharing pleasure is one of our earliest experiences: consider the way a baby’s smile lights up a room and all the silly things parents and family members will do to produce these little expressions of happiness and connection.

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Children learn empathy by participating with family members and peers. Empathy requires particular experiences to promote learning.

Empathy is the ability to comprehend and share the feelings of another.

Without receptive parenting, toddlers don’t learn to connect people with pleasure.

If your smiles aren’t returned with happiness, it’s as though you are being expected to learn to speak without anyone ever communicating with you.

The brain expects certain encounters to guide its development — if these don’t occur at the correct time, the capacity to learn them can be reduced or even lost.

Babies don’t just smile spontaneously — they smile brilliantly back when individuals smile at them. The back and forth of these expressions, the connection, disconnection, re-connection and its tempo teaches us that your pleasure is mine, as well.

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Over time, regrettably, we learn that we are independent beings and sometimes come to see other individual’s happiness as a threat or a sign that some competition was lost, rather than something we can share.

We are typically born with an acute sense of fairness and justice that makes us sensitive to injustice, for example, when our older brother’s toys are nicer than ours, we feel “that’s not fair”; this phrase is bane of many parents’ existence, they’re not just selfish.

These words are part of a social sense that we should receive equal treatment.

As parents, the responsibility is ours to teach our kids empathy.

For centuries we thought human nature was that of being selfish and competitive — with evolution being defined as a challenge in which the most ruthless are always likely to be the winners.

Current research is demonstrating that in humans kindness is  a critical part of health.

Both sexes describe compassion as one of the top three characteristics they seek in a mate followed by a sense of humor and intelligence.

The ability to nurture and connect is critical for the survival of children.

According to research, in hunter/gatherer societies, having a family that consisted of older siblings and grandmothers was more important to child survival than the presence of fathers. This suggests that cooperation in child rearing made genetic survival more likely — not competition.

According to Psychology Today and Dr. Michele Borba’s research, empathy development is a critical social-emotional skill and plays an unexpected role in predicting kids’ success and well-being. Her research suggests empathy is the key to success for raising healthy, thriving children.

Dr. Borba sees a severe empathy deficit in today’s digital society.

She describes this as the “Selfie Syndrome” and states that it has allowed the increase in a culture of bullying, dishonesty, and unhappiness.

The antidote?

‘Parents need to switch their focus from “helping kids earn grades, trophies, and test scores” to helping them cultivate empathy.’

After a 30-year decrease in empathy among young people, researchers, scientists, and business leaders are sounding the alarm. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author brought the significance of empathy to the forefront and used the notion of success in business in a 1998 editorial in the Harvard Business Review.

The American Association of Medical Colleges named empathy an “essential learning objective.”

Dr. Louis Cozolino, the author of The Neuroscience of Human Relationships, suggests that empathy is at the center of all human interactions and identified empathy as an essential skill needed for life success.

How To Teach Kids Empathy

      1. When children learn to listen to their feelings, they develop the emotional savvy to pick up on others feelings.
      2. Allowing kids to express themselves as caring and responsible learn to value other people’s thoughts and feelings.
      3. The ability to “walk in another’s shoes” teaches capacity to understand others perspective.  As a result, kids are more likely to be empathetic, handle conflicts peaceably, not be judgmental, value each other’s differences, speak up for those who are mistreated, and work in ways that are more comforting, helpful, and supportive of others.
      4. Reading comprehension allows kids to be transported to another world that expands their creativity and imagination and in doing so transform their hearts.
      5. Learning the art of controlling emotions affords children the ability to look beyond themselves and feel empathy for others. This self-regulation teaches them to be selfless.
      6. Compassion is a muscle. The more it is worked out, the more entrenched it becomes ingrained.
      7. Empathy is a “we” experience; it is not self-centered. Children who learn teamwork learn to live in a “we” world versus a self-centered “me” world.

Moral courage is a learned habit.

When kids are motivated to put empathy into action, despite the consequences, they will use the moral courage that parents have instilled without consideration.

We need to be teaching our kids to stand up for justice and compassion because it’s the right thing to do.

When empathy is the actual north of children’s moral compasses, kids can spot when someone is hurting, needs comfort, or is treated unjustly. This leads to citizens who are engaged and care about what happens to themselves, their family, friends, environment and addressing societal wrongs.

By allowing children to play various games and engage with others, there is a greater chance to develop a high level of integrity.

Through game playing and engaging with others in activities, kids learn how to accept losses graciously while teaching the need to be understanding and supportive of their teammates.

Team building activities allow kids to have the ability to converse with each other and work towards a common objective.

By practicing being a valuable team member and team leader, children develop confidence in their abilities.

The skills learned from team building are vital parts of personal and group development in children.

Discovering how to work with others and communication are essential skills that children will utilize throughout their lives.

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How To Teach Team Building Skills

    1. Teaching team building skills to our children develop their ability to work collectively toward a universal goal. This makes the job or work easier because everyone is working together towards a common goal. This teaches kids that, when a team works together to solve a challenge, everyone in the group wins.
    2. The key is to encourage team-building activities for children that stress collaboration and cooperation, not competition. The skills discovered from being part of a team are essential for positive accomplishment required in everyday life in school, work, and the community throughout our lives.
    3. Conducting team building activities with children can help children acquire the following skills:
      1.    Problem solving
      2.    Communication
      3.    Cooperation
      4.    Listening
      5.    Self-esteem
      6.    Idea exchange
      7.    Working with others and different groups, ethnicity and/or race
      8.    Leadership
      9.    Creative thinking
    4. Children learn verbal skills rapidly when they interact with others. Playing games with others in their same age range helps them learn new vocabulary and exposes them to how to interact with others. Children’s learn how to communicate effectively.

Verbal reasoning is the capacity to understand and reason using words.

This skill enables us to use our language skills to negotiate and explain things to others. Think about your day-to-day life we are always asked to explain our thinking for doing something.

Our ability to understand every possible outcome and then use our language skills to traverse our way to the one that is favored is a required life skill.

Having a firm understanding of words and phrases are a must for communication.

Along with the ability to draw conclusions from incomplete sentences or to identify an incorrect statement, or the ability to problem solve or provide an alternative idea when needed are required life skills.

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Capacity to comprehend a verbal message and assess the possible outcomes coupled with the ability to utilize oral language skills to explain or negotiate a better outcome are required skills today.

Reading comprehension exercises in which children are expected to provide and explain different endings of the story, or a narrative assignment in which they are told to tell a story with an appropriate beginning/middle/end sequence are several ways to teach verbal skills.

Using educative games for children can make kids fun learning activities engaging and fun.

The key here is parents need to be engaged and assist your child where and when appropriate. However, the role is one of an observer, to ask and answer our children’s questions and not do the game for them.

Games are fun and entertaining for children of any age range. The trick is to add learning factors to the activity; math skills can be taught while playing various games and activities.

As a parent, you need to be creative to incorporate math lessons like counting numbers or multiplying into games and activities.

The Play2Health web site has many various math games, worksheets and more that are interactive that are playful yet educational but most of all allow kids to learn while having fun.

Using child activity games enhances the learning experience, and online school activities make learning activities fun.

As parents, our role is to bring engaging activities for children into their learning experience.

Never again do kids have to be bored as they embark on a new chapter of their life learning life skills that will help our children to grow into well-adjusted adults.

Our children deserve every opportunity to reach their full potential