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Having friends and spending time with family is important for a child's development, not just because its fun, but because it's a great way for them to learn more from different people who do things in different ways. Grandad knows all about birds and nature, Granny is great at cooking, Uncle Joe is funny and makes us camps, Aunty Caroline is brilliant at horse riding and lets us try. When children and toddlers are with other people, they watch and learn just as much as when they are with you and its good for them to experience other homes and families.
Try and find out what special skills or interests family members have; especially older generations. Encourage them to teach your children or just spend time with them telling them stories about how thinkgs used to be! It's so valuable to learn about different cultures and people that spending time with our families can be interesting and beneficial for you all.
Similar Aged Children
When they are with other children the same age existing skills can be developed or new things discovered. They communicate, and understand and negotiate. They may squabble but try to find a solution and come to a decision. Try not to interfere and leave them to work out their problems. Obviously if they start fighting, then intervene!
When they are with older children, they may be nurtured or guided by them and can learn about new things and games. Older children can be very caring towards younger ones and can be great teachers. The younger children see this and copy. Older children can also be great academic teachers. See the 5 year old teaching a younger 3 year old how to hold a pencil and do a "loop-de-doop" in order to learn and write an "o".
Encouraging siblings to teach and help each other:
- Get them to read to each other. The younger can look at the pictures and tell the story. The older can try and read the words.
- Leave them! Try not to interrupt - even if it's to say well done! Let them get on with it.
- Praise them! Say well done, especially to the child who is teaching, as it will make them feel very proud of their efforts and encourage them to do it again!
- Encourage imaginative play: allow them to make a camp or splash around in water outside.
- Try not to jump in as soon as there is a squabble. Keep a distance and they will sort it out!