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59 months Milestone

It’s time to focus on conversations 

When children are almost five years old, their parents can focus more on having conversations with them, that expand their mind. 

The goal is to gradually encourage a child to:

  • Understand a problem and come up with a possible solution. “What would you do if the house next door was on fire?”
  • Talk about cause and effect. “The car is dented. What happened?”
  • Identify the odd one out. “Think of a dog, a cat and an apple. Which one doesn’t fit in the group? Why?”
  • Discuss whether something is possible or impossible. “Can cats fly in the sky?” 
  • Predict possible outcomes of situations that children of this age could possibly experience. “The lights went out and so …” or “It was my friend’s birthday and so …”

How to develop visual memory 

We all use this skill daily, without being aware of it when we visualise and store mental images. Some of these images stay in our minds for a short while (short-term visual memory), while others are hard-wired into our minds (long-term visual memory).

Children need visual memory to read

Children need to be capable of long-term visual memory to read fluently. They build a huge frame of mental image references over time of what words look like. This makes it easy to recognise many words at first glance. However, this doesn’t happen when children battle with long-term visual memory, and reading is difficult, despite practice. 

Children need visual memory to spell

The same applies to spelling. Children need a mental image reference to use as a standard for correct spelling. No matter how obvious the spelling mistake, words just never look “funny” or different to them. 

 

Short-term visual memory is also important, and children who battle with this cannot hold visual images in their mind’s eye just long enough for them to be able to work with it. 

Short-term visual memory is important when following instructions such as a step-by-step construction. Children use short-term visual memory to keep visual “snap shots” as they look at the instructions, then at their construction to follow a step and back at the instructions, and so forth.

When school aged children battle with this, they feel very uncomfortable and anxious when they need to copy shapes, letters, words and numbers from a blackboard or book. They typically write excruciatingly slowly and scramble letters within words while copying. 

Many of these children get very tired from having to put so much effort into copying what they see, which is demotivating.

Game ideas:

  1. What is missing?

Cover four objects while your child is watching. Remove the cover from one object while your child isn’t looking. Then ask them what is missing? Increase the number of objects over time.

  1. What is different?

Draw a picture, let your child study it, and then erase something or add something. They then need to tell you what’s different. 

  1. Can you fix it?

Build a structure with building blocks or LEGO and use your cell phone to take a picture that your child then studies. While they aren’t looking, make some changes to the structure. Ask them what’s different. Can they fix it to look like it did before? Use the picture on your phone to check whether your child is right.

  1. Can you copy it?

Build a structure and take a picture. Take the structure apart and ask your child to use your picture as an “instruction card” for rebuilding the structure. 

Tip: Pretend play is incredibly valuable 

Pretend play, where children take on different roles to play games such as “shop” or “restaurant”, is hugely valuable. When children engage in socio-dramatic play, they get to use their imagination and express how they understand the world. They experiment with feelings that they most likely will never experience in real life, such as being trapped in a burning building or saving someone’s life. As they play, they learn to put themselves in someone else’s proverbial shoes, and they make sense of things that are very complicated to them in the real world. They also practice how to decide what to do next and to communicate their plans and vision to others. 

Source: Bergen, Doris. “Play as a medium for Learning and Development: A Handbook of Theory and Practice.” Heinemann. (1988).

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