Posts in March 2022

Does preschool really provide an academic advantage?

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A recent study provides insight into how to improve preschool programs.

This large American study included nearly 3000 children in Tennessee who applied to a free preschool program biased towards traditional, academic teaching. The longitudinal study followed children from preschool up to 6th grade and surprisingly showed even negative effects. This urged the researchers to further analyze what was not working and how to improve the preschool programs.

Six evidence-based ideas for how to improve preschool programs:

1. Abstract “unconstrained” skills

Preschools should focus more on developing abstract “unconstrained” skills rather than specific “constrained” academic skills.

In other words: preschool should pay attention to skills that can never be fully mastered as listening, attention, and problem-solving. Rather than specific “constrained” academic skills that can be mastered, such as learning the alphabet or counting to 10.

2. Positive attention

Preschools should focus on giving children more positive attention for appropriate behavior. Rather than negative attention for inappropriate behavior. Focusing on positive attention for appropriate behavior is linked with better self-regulation abilities in children.

3. Child-led activities

Preschools should involve primarily child-led activities or “choice time.” Research has found that play-based preschools are usually associated with better long-term outcomes. Rather than preschools focusing only on direct instruction of academic skills.

Research also finds that encouraging cooperative play among children is linked to better language skills and better self-regulation.

What is Finnish ECEC?

4. Movement and outdoor play

Preschools should involve frequent opportunities for movement and gross motor activity.

Research shows that preschool children are more attentive to classroom tasks after a break with some playtime, particularly after outdoor playtime.

5. Alternating interaction

Preschool teachers should focus more on listening to the children in their class. Rather than only teaching them unilaterally. When teachers listen to children, the children show improved learning in many areas.

When children have opportunities to speak more often in class, they show stronger self-regulation and vocabulary. So discuss, ask, support and challenge children with different topics and let them talk, question, explain and ponder on things.

What is pedagogical documentation?

6. Incorporate learning into transition times

Embrace the rights of the child, everyday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

What are the rights of the child?

With the present situation in the world, paying close attention to the rights of the child is surely in place. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified human rights agreement in history. Up to 196 countries have signed the agreement and promised to protect children’s rights. 

Let's wish good things for all the children around the world today, tomorrow, and every single day of the year!

The Convention says childhood is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.

Below you can revise the Convention on the Rights of the Child. First, there are 14 points brought up by Kindiedays and in the end, there is a simplified list of all the 54 conventions. All the rights are related, they are all equally important and they cannot be taken away from children.

The list is written in simple language so these points can be also discussed with children. Let's make children's rights more visible for everyone.

The Convention on the Rights of the child - 14 picks


2. No discrimination

All children have all these rights, no matter who they are, where they live, what language they speak, what their religion is, what they think, what they look like, if they are a boy or girl, if they have a disability, if they are rich or poor, and no matter who their parents or families are or what their parents or families believe or do. No child should be treated unfairly for any reason.

3. Best interests of the child

When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children. All adults should do what is best for children. Governments should make sure children are protected and looked after by their parents, or by other people when this is needed. Governments should make sure that people and places responsible for looking after children are doing a good job. 

Get a 'Child Resume template' to find out personal interests!

12. Respect for children's views

Children have the right to give their opinions freely on issues that affect them. Adults should listen and take children seriously.

Take children's views into consideration by downloading a 'Child's Individual Curriculum' template!

13. Sharing thoughts freely

Children have the right to share freely with others what they learn, think and feel, by talking, drawing, writing, or in any other way unless it harms other people.

14. Freedom of thought and religion

Children can choose their own thoughts, opinions, and religion, but this should not stop other people from enjoying their rights. Parents can guide children so that as they grow up, they learn to properly use this right.

17. Access to information

Children have the right to get information from the Internet, radio, television, newspapers, books, and other sources. Adults should make sure the information they are getting is not harmful. Governments should encourage the media to share information from lots of different sources, in languages that all children can understand

22. Refugee children

Children who move from their home country to another country as refugees (because it was not safe for them to stay there) should get help and protection and have the same rights as children born in that country.

28. Access to education

Every child has the right to an education. Primary education should be free. Secondary and higher education should be available to every child. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible. Discipline in schools should respect children’s rights and never use violence.

Early learning matters!

29. Aims of education

Children’s education should help them fully develop their personalities, talents, and abilities. It should teach them to understand their own rights and to respect other people’s rights, cultures, and differences. It should help them to live peacefully and protect the environment.

Let children reach their personal best!

30. Minority culture, language, and religion

Children have the right to use their own language, culture, and religion - even if these are not shared by most people in the country where they live.

31. Rest, play, culture, arts

Every child has the right to rest, relax, play, and take part in cultural and creative activities.

Combine culture and art with this Art and Music activity!

38. Protection in war

Children have the right to be protected during war. No child under 15 can join the army or take part in the war.

UNICEF: War in Ukraine poses an immediate threat to children

39. Recovery and reintegration

Children have the right to get help if they have been hurt, neglected, treated badly or affected by war, so they can get back their health and dignity.

42. Everyone must know children's rights

Governments should actively tell children and adults about this Convention so that everyone knows about children’s rights. 

How to help children deal with stress?

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

I wish childhood was only about play, happiness, laughter, and carefree life. The reality is that we are all living in a time of increased stress and unfortunately children are not immune to the impact. Also, incidents such as bullying, illness, or a change may cause stress.

As Sandra Mills, a pediatric psychologist states, children are remarkable “noticers.” Children might be parroting back something you may have said, thinking they didn’t catch it? Sometimes they mention a topic you thought they didn’t know anything about? Children pick up on new words and phrases quickly. Even more so, they absorb feelings going on around them. And today, there are a whole lot of feelings going on. Children notice when their educators, parents, or friends are stressed and may react to others' emotional states.

However, children do not always have the emotional intelligence or vocabulary to express themselves. They also lack an understanding of what is truly happening. To them, it just feels different, uncomfortable, unpredictable, and downright scary. The best we can do is to support, listen and observe children closely.

What are the signs of stress in children?

Stress in children can show as changes in their typical behavior. Common changes can include:

  • The child shows regression with some skills
  • Child is moody
  • The child withdraws from activities he/she liked before
  • Child expresses worry
  • Child complains often
  • Child cries
  • The child is fearful, scared
  • The child wants a lot of hugs and wants to stay close
  • The child eats less or a lot more than usually
  • Child's sleeping habits change or falling asleep is difficult

Finding ways to get stress out of their systems will help children feel better. Everyone has their own individual ways to reduce stress. Here are some ideas, try and see which ones work for your child:

10 ways to reduce stress and relax with children

  • Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Try for example walking, cycling, kick boarding, playing outdoors, dancing, trampoline jumping, hiking in the forest, football or other group sports, swimming, skating, or climbing.

  • Follow the basic daily routine. It helps children to feel safe and sound if the everyday routines and schedules stay the same. If children get enough time to rest and sleep, have possibilities to free play, spend time outdoors and eat regularly - the basics are in order!

What to say (and not to say) to children about war?

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Incredibly shocking and sad news has spread around the world during the past week. Russia has started a war against Ukraine.

It means that now Ukraine’s 7.5 million children are in the middle of the war. Needless to say that their level of learning, mental health, the potential for long-term trauma - and their lives are at risk.

There are also children all around the world that are not physically in the middle of the war, but they are still very aware and affected by it. Children might sense that adults feel more stressed and worried than usual.

The smaller the child, the safer they get to be from the news and conversations concerning the war. They do not yet understand what 'a war' means and it is good that way. Close the tv when the news is coming, do not discuss shocking issues when children are close by, and just try to focus on normal daily routine. If the child is acting normal, there is nothing to worry about.

Older children see and hear things differently and absorb news easily, especially if they have their own phones. Photos in social media and news, as well as conversations between adults, bring the war closer. Those children who are not directly affected by the war – may be affected by it indirectly.

Five tips from a psychologist and child counselor

Many are frightened and don't know what to expect. Children might have questions.

So, to help educators, parents, family, and caregivers navigate the overwhelming task of responding to children's fears and worries, Ane Lemche, a psychologist and child counselor at Save the Children, has shared five tips on how to speak to children about war:

1. Make time and listen

Give children the space to talk when they want to – even if you're in the middle of something else. Encourage them to tell you what they know, how they feel, and to ask you questions.

2. Tailor the conversation to the child

A good guideline is: answer only to the question the child is asking.

Older children will need more details while younger ones may be satisfied just by understanding that sometimes countries fight. Be informed, keep calm, and answer questions honestly. Begin with simple information – too much detail may overwhelm and cause anxiety.