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nanKID MileStone 4 year old

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] is gaining language confidence

48 months Milestone 

Out of the mouth of babes 

Your child is gaining language confidence and possibly sharing the most hilarious stories about your household to their teacher. Typical four-year-olds use sentences of five words or more. They are learning to use words to express negative emotions, such as disappointment or anger, instead of using only physical actions.

Topics for conversation: They understand and use whatwhowherewhy and when and they are excited to talk about past and future events. Most four-year-olds don’t use the past and future tense well before the age of 5 ½.

Classification: Your child can now sort pictures into categories such as animals, food, clothing, toys, plants, tools, musical instruments and vehicles.

Practice opposites: Stating the opposite of something gives children a sense of mastery. First, ask your child to complete sentences such as: “This ball is big, but this one is ___” or “The glass was full, but you drank the water and now it’s ___”. Then ask: “What is the opposite of ___?”

 

Tip: Have fun with working memory and vocabulary

Without your child seeing, put different objects inside a bag. Use items such as an orange, pebble, sponge, crayon and a coin. Describe one of the objects in the bag and invite your child to feel inside the bag to find it. For example: “Can you find something flat and hard?” (the coin). If your child can’t find the right object, give another clue such as, “It feels a bit cold and it is round.” 

Researchers say that adults can keep five to seven things “in mind”, whereas a small child can only keep one or two. This game helps to build their working memory and it broadens your child’s vocabulary with words and concepts that can be used for describing things. 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] will enjoy playing ball games

49 months Milestone 

The more I practice, the luckier I get

Your four-year-old can practice ball skills in many exciting ways. 

Kicking: Show your child how to run towards a ball and kick it towards a target without stopping first. They can practice running and kicking a slow-moving ball. Your child will start getting good at kicking at about 4 ½ years of age.

Catching: Typical three-year-olds catch a tennis ball with their elbows bent in front of their bodies. In contrast, four-year-olds usually learn to keep their elbows nearer to their sides. They also now enjoy practicing to catch a larger ball that is bounced in their direction.

Throwing: Most four-year-olds are ready to learn how to “underhand” throw a tennis ball towards a target. They also enjoy learning how to throw it so that it hits the floor once before hitting the wall.

 

Having a ball

Ball play is very beneficial to a child’s development. There are two main reasons why we should play ball with our children from early on.

Firstly, ball play helps to develop important skills that impact a young child’s development in many practical ways.

Consider the following: 

  • Practicing to hit, catch, throw or kick a ball develops a sense of rhythm in your child. Interestingly, a well-developed sense of rhythm is necessary for smooth coordination as well as visualisation skills.
  • Any kind of ball play also helps to develop body awareness. As children handle balls, they discover where their different body parts are, their functions, the space they need to carry out different actions and how much pressure these actions require. This develops the foundation for practical skills such as pressing down on a pencil with the correct amount of force.
  • Learning to catch a large ball with two hands involves coordinating the left and right sides of the body. This is no easy feat as it involves the two-way communication of the brain, where the right half of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Without this skill – known as bilateral integration – children struggle to do practical tasks such as dressing themselves and cutting with scissors.
  • Whenever children practice throwing a ball, they develop an internal sense of timing and direction. Practicing to throw a ball strengthens a child’s neural network in their brain. Each throw improves the communication between the brain, muscles and ligaments that work together to perform this action. These messages coordinate the movement of your child’s arms and hands to aim in the intended direction and release the ball at exactly the right time. Neural networks learn from experience. 

Secondly, learning to control a ball is a necessary part of developing “movement literacy”.
Nobody needs to teach a typical child how to walk, bend over to pick something up, or climb a flight of stairs. Why? Because these skills are necessary for survival and acquiring them is built into the human DNA. 

On the other hand, many of the task-specific skills that your child is going to need to play sports are learnt. 
Skills such as jumping over hurdles, handling balls and somersaulting are learnt. They do not happen automatically. The only way to master them is to be taught, followed by lots of practice until the technique becomes second nature.

The good news is that we can prepare our children for success in any kind of sport by teaching them a set of fundamental movement skills. 
These skills are recognised worldwide as the building blocks of movement and the “alphabet of movement literacy.” They include locomotor and non-locomotor (stabilisation) skills. Encourage your child to roll, balance, slide, jog, run, leap, jump, hop, dodge, gallop and skip. 

Ball skills teach object control and can be learnt by bouncing, throwing, catching, kicking and striking balls.

There you go! Now, where’s that ball?

 

Tip: Alternatives to balls 

If your child does not yet enjoy playing with balls, bear in mind that smaller and heavier balls are more difficult to catch as they require better timing and faster tracking skills. 

So, to provide more opportunities for success, put the soccer and tennis balls aside for a while and play catch with balloons, beach balls, foam balls or bean bags instead.

Also, demonstrate how to throw a tennis ball like a cricket bowler (with an overarm action). Show your child how to grip the ball firmly in the dominant hand, touch it to their ear. Next, they must step forward with the foot opposite to the throwing hand while straightening their arm to cast it forward. 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] practices life skills during fantasy play

50 months Milestone 

Magical thinking creates endless possibilities

Four-year-olds believe rules should be obeyed because adults say so. They have not developed a sense of right and wrong yet. They can also learn to adapt the rules to changing circumstances, for example, “You may be loud outside, but we use our ‘inside voices’ in the house.”

Three to five-year-olds are wired to experience the world as if anything is possible and they are the main characters in a fantasy play. This explains why most are afraid of imaginary things and some have imaginary friends.

Sometimes they are unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. This is a small price to pay for being able to slip in and out of a fantasy world where they experience feelings and do imaginary things that would otherwise be totally impossible. The fantasy world gives children a place to practice and develop life skills. 

 

Tip: Prepare your child for social success 

The easiest way to effectively prepare a pre-schooler for social success is to explain to them how they should behave before they go somewhere such as a shop, Grandma’s house or a friend’s house. The explanation should be given in detail and repeated several times before arrival.

Pre-empt any difficulties your child might experience. For example, if your child is shy, prepare them by explaining that when Aunty Mary opens the door, they can go to her and say, “I’m happy to see you!” Explain that if they want to give her hug, they may. If they don’t want to give her a hug, they should be kind and say “Hi five!”.

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name]’s cutting skills are improving

51 Months Milestone 

Your little one’s making the cut

Your child’s ability to use a pair of scissors is developing. With practice, they will learn to cut more accurately on a straight line (15 cm long) while staying within ½ cm of the line. Your child will get better at using the supporting hand to hold and rotate the paper, while the dominant hand opens and partly closes the scissors in a continuous movement to cut. Children at this age can typically cut a circle within 1 cm of the cutting line. 

Four-year-olds are also able to learn how to copy a cross by drawing a vertical and a horizontal line while looking at an example. They can draw a picture of a person with four body parts and by their fifth birthday, they will be drawing people with 10 or more body parts. 

 

Tip: Encourage repetition 

Young children are mostly focused on what they are experiencing in the moment. To encourage them to repeat an action for the sake of practicing a new skill, it is important to present these repetitive exercises as either part of a game or steps required to complete a fun project.

A tried and tested way to get children of this age to practice their cutting skills is to work together on making a paper chain. Draw lines with a ruler on an A4 size of paper. Work together to cut them into strips. Use a stapler (or glue) to make rings that connect to create a chain. 

 

 

 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] is discovering how the world works through play

52 Months Milestone 

Play is the work of childhood

At this age, children play in certain predictable ways with everything that they are allowed to play with because they are naturally driven to figure out how the world works. As they move their bodies and handle physical objects, they discover patterns and learn to understand concepts.

Children find much satisfaction in moving their own bodies and objects from one place to the next. Often, after getting everything to their destination, they end up doing nothing with it. Developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, refers to this kind of play exploration as “transporting”.

Young children also learn to turn everyday materials into their own creations. They love to explore how paint, water, sand, clay and loose blocks can be used to make something.

 

Tip: Treasure hunts 

One fun way to develop your four-year-old’s working memory is by setting up treasure hunts. Hide three things when your child isn’t looking and surprise them by announcing, “It’s almost bath time! But … before we can go, you need to find three things for me that we will need. Listen closely: You must find the bath plug … your hairbrush … and your duck.” Let your child repeat what you’ve said and then give them hints by telling them they are “getting warmer” when they are in the region of the treasure or “colder” when they move away from it.

When your child finds one of the hidden objects, ask them to tell you what else is still on the list.

If you don’t have much time, just hide one object. 

 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] is starting to understand others feelings and views

53 months Milestone 

Tuning into others

Children’s thinking skills expand in special ways at age four as they develop “theory of mind”. This new insight enables human beings to understand that other people may not always share their thoughts, feelings and perspectives.

As a result, four-year-olds learn to look at other people differently as they begin to consider what other people may be thinking in various situations; what their intentions, emotions and perspectives may be. 

As children develop theory of mind, they pay closer attention to their own thoughts and begin to talk about their opinions. In other words, a four-year-old can learn how to explore their thoughts and actions from another perspective.

Encourage conversations about what your child is thinking and planning to do. Discuss how some things could possibly be done differently.

 

Board games 

One of the things that make games fun is that they challenge children to keep information in mind so that they can work with it.

Board games and educational games teach concentration skills. As we play these games, everyone is expected to focus their attention, wait their turn (even when they feel like doing other things) and follow a set of rules. When the rules change, they need to adapt accordingly. 

All of these things work together to strengthen neural networks in the “control centres” of the child’s developing brain. This strengthens something that developmental psychologists refer to as “executive functioning”.

Executive functioning skills are wired into the developing brain over time. 

This process starts at birth, spikes during the four- to six-year period, then continues throughout a child’s adolescent years and into early adulthood. In fact, researchers believe it only fully matures after a person’s 24th birthday.

Educational toys and board games are slow paced and interactive. As a result, they work to build the three major areas of executive functioning: working memory, inhibitory control and flexible thinking.

  1. Working memory 

An example of your child’s working memory is the ability to recite three given numbers backwards. Board games require your child to keep information active in their mind for long enough to be able to work with it. You can also ask your child to spot small differences between two images that are almost identical. You will see your child form a mental picture of the first image, then look at the second image to compare them.

Children who don’t have a well-developed working memory find it difficult to concentrate in a classroom because they cannot remember what the teacher said a few minutes ago. They also struggle to read with understanding because, by the time they reach the end of a paragraph, they have forgotten what was said at the start.

  1. Inhibitory control 

This is a child’s ability to hold back impulsive behaviours and impulses. Board games allow children to practice their inhibitory control, which is the key to being able to stay on task because it makes them: sit and listen when someone is talking; keep their hands to themselves when they feel like grabbing something desirable from someone; use their “inside voice” when appropriate; and finish a task when they no longer feel like it. 

  1. Flexible thinking

This refers to being able to shift mental gears, a useful skill for board games. People who haven’t developed flexible thinking cannot think on their feet and quickly change direction when a situation demands them to do so. They easily get stuck in doing things in a particular way and follow certain thought patterns.

In conclusion, one of the beautiful things about educational games and board games is that they are games. 

Children don’t even realise that they are developing important learning skills while having fun with the family. 

 

Tip: Boosting concentration through books

When we read to our children, the closeness that we share with them motivates them to pay attention. As they listen to the story and focus on the illustrations, they’re swept away on an exciting, but relatively slow journey that unfolds as the pages are turned. 

Eventually, the culmination of many story book experiences reward children for their mental engagement by strengthening the neural networks in many important areas of their developing brains.

Reading to your child will help them to: develop executive functioning skills; boost their vocabulary; enhance their visualisation skills as they learn to give life to static illustrations; think creatively; and organise thoughts and ideas. 

 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name]’s working memory is improving and sentences are getting longer

54 months Milestone 

My new language skills are expanding my world

Children’s language development go hand in hand with their intellectual ability. As their working memory develops and they learn to keep more information in mind for longer, their sentences become longer and more complex. 

As a result, they learn to connect ideas and start using transition words (connectors) to join phrases together. For example, “I ran home and I got there just in time” or “I ran home, but I was still late”. 

They also typically use because to indicate that something resulted as a consequence of something else, for example, “The girl was upset because her jacket got torn.” 

Another direct consequence of their growing intellectual abilities is that children become ready to engage in word play, jokes and friendly teasing as their fifth birthday approaches.

 

Tip: Fantasy play

One way to teach children to follow a storyline is to create little plays and invite them to be part of the production by adding sound effects. 

The easiest storyline (that children love) is where an animal meets a series of other animals, while on their way somewhere. 

Here is an example: Once there was a lonely donkey. He went for a walk. Before long, he met Duck. Duck said “I swim well and I go ___ “ (let your child say ‘quack-quack’). “Can I go with you?” asked Duck. “Of course!” said Donkey. And on they walked together. Add more animals in this way, such as cow, horse and monkey. End your story with: “They came to a big field. Everyone played together and Donkey wasn’t lonely anymore!”

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name]’s body awareness is increasing

55 months Milestone 

Pre-learning skills in action 

Certain physical activities build confidence and develop core strength and stability in 4 ½ years-olds.

Wheelbarrow walking: Your child can now walk forward rhythmically on extended arms with support at the hips, and later at the ankles. 

Somersaulting: Many children of this age still fall sideways as they roll over. As their fifth birthday approaches, they typically learn to tuck their chins in and roll onto their backs. Some even learn to roll over twice.

Clambering on jungle-gyms: At this age, children typically climb by pulling up with one hand, followed by bringing their other hand up to it. Encourage your child to practice looking up as they climb and as their fifth birthday approaches, demonstrate how to climb a ladder with alternating arm movements.

 

How body awareness boosts confidence and learning readiness 

At birth, babies have no idea that they exist in bodies, nor what their body parts can do.

Developing body awareness

Children develop a sense of their own bodies by physically interacting with their environment. As they move around, handle objects and play, their senses send information to their brains about their space. This helps them build an idea of what their bodies look like and where all their body parts are in relation to each other and the objects around them, without thinking about it.

As children move, they learn how much space their body parts occupy and how these parts work together. They also learn about rhythm, speed, distance and the amount of pressure required to perform tasks.

Sensory systems

Two sensory systems play a hugely important role in body awareness known as the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. 

The vestibular system is situated in the inner ear. It controls a person’s sense of balance and spatial orientation. It constantly sends movement information to the brain. 

The proprioceptive system consists of a network of special receptors in our muscles, tendons and joints. This forms a continuous feedback loop with the nervous system and sends information to the brain about the position of our body parts in relation to each other as well as objects in the environment.

Decreased body awareness

Children who have issues with sensory processing lack body awareness. This leads to clumsiness and low self-confidence. Children with low body awareness may, for example, put too much pressure on a pencil when they draw or write. If they struggle to use the two sides of their bodies together, they have trouble guiding a piece of paper with one hand, while cutting with a pair of scissors in the other. 

Body awareness forms a foundation

Body awareness connects a child with their environment from the very core of their physical experience (the body). As a result, it develops parallel to many other developmental skills. In fact, many of the “higher mental skills” cannot develop fully when there is something amiss with a child’s sense of their body. As an example, children have difficulty placing objects relative to other objects when they haven’t yet developed an awareness of how they can position their own bodies in relation to objects.


Before a child can learn to read and write, they need to grasp how circles and lines can be connected to create letters. This skill is called visual-motor integration.

Practically speaking, a child has to be able to physically walk in the shape of a diamond and draw a diamond with a finger in the air, before the child will be able to visualise how three loose lines can be connected to draw a triangle on paper. 

The connection between a child’s physical development and learning readiness is not obvious. Therefore physical education and play are vitally important.

 

Tip: How to promote body awareness and balance 

To give your child’s sense of body awareness and balance a boost, build an obstacle course that requires rolling on the floor between two points before stepping over, crawling under, running around and climbing over obstacles. 

This teaches children about the rhythm, space, direction and pressure needed to move in different ways and explore what their body can do.

A few suggestions:

  • Create a tunnel (open ended box) for them to crawl through. 
  • Suspend a broom across two chairs for your child to go under while crouching.
  • Use chalk to indicate where to do frog jumps or bunny hops on the driveway. 
  • Draw arrows on paper scraps or use a length of yarn to lay out a path to follow. 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] enjoys make-believe play

56 months Milestone

Special time nurtures your child emotionally 

Magical thinking: While they are between three and five years old, children often confuse what’s real and what’s make-believe. They interact with their world as if they are characters in a story book where magical things happen all the time, animals are their friends, and stuffed toys have thoughts and feelings. 

Cause and effect: Their limited frame of reference causes them to explain things in ways that seem illogical to adults. They may believe, for instance, that plants grow because they want to be tall, leaves fall from trees because they like flying and people grow older because they have birthdays. 

Play: Children now prefer to play with people, they are creative in make-believe play and they play cooperatively with other children. They are also mentally and emotionally ready to practice negotiating solutions to conflicts.

 

How special time can lift your child’s spirit 

Oprah Winfrey once said that the greatest gift you can give your child every day is to let your face light up when he or she walks into the room. We nod when we hear this, because we know from personal experience that children get their security and sense of self-worth from the way their parents react to them.

 

With this in mind, you will enjoy learning about a successful parenting technique, called special time, that was made popular by a non-profit organisation named Hand-in-Hand-Parenting.

 

Twenty minutes of your time

Set aside 20 minutes to focus your complete attention on one child. Do this every day at a specific time. Name this block of time “our time” or “Johnny time” for example. Naming this special time gives you and your children a way to refer to this occasion.

 

Plan an activity

It is important that your child chooses what the two of you will do during this time. You can initially make a list of possible activities to get the creative juices flowing. Plan an activity that allows you to have a conversation with your child. An activity such as watching television will not allow this.

 

Simply play along
This is always difficult when a parent is used to setting the pace, but the whole idea behind special time is to create a time of simply enjoying entering your child’s world. 

 

Don’t multi-task
This is not the time to have a pot on the stove or to take your washing out of the dryer. You will not even be checking your phone or answering it. 

Arrange with Dad to take care of siblings, or do this at a time when they are sleeping or away from home. You need to be present with this one child and 100 % focused.

Don’t teach, probe, or give directions
Your comments can easily distract your child from the play experience. Don’t ask, “What is that supposed to be?” or “Why don’t you build a house?” Rather comment on what your child is doing, for example, “I’m wondering what you are going to do next.”

When the time is up, special time is over
Put stickers on a clock to indicate where the long arm should be for special time to start, and where it is going to end. Explain when special time starts and ends and be very consistent to end it on time. Should you continue beyond this point once, your child may be disappointed whenever you don’t continue in future.

To help end the fun, create a routine where special time is always followed by doing a chore together, like preparing supper or watering pot plants.

Don’t worry that you may be doing this wrong
If your child feels loved, seen and listened to, then you’ve achieved the most important aim of special time. 

 

Tip: Let your child lead free play 

When you join your child in free play, let them lead. Allow them to say what should happen next. When you want to contribute to the game, introduce your idea by example, instead of using words. This way, your child can be more imaginative and the flow of the game will naturally align better with their needs.

When you, the parent, should lead

Playing educational games puts you in the role of your child’s teacher. This is where you take the lead, explain the steps and support your child step by step. The biggest benefit here is that your child will develop many school readiness skills that they would not otherwise develop during free play alone. 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] can learn to cut a square

57 Months Milestone 

Your child’s hands are becoming fine instruments

Your child’s ability to use a pair of scissors is developing and with some practice, they can now learn to cut out a square while staying within 1 cm of the line. Initially, it’s a challenge to change direction at each corner and children typically first cut past the corner before turning the paper and starting again on the new line. It is a milestone for them to learn to stop, use the supporting hand to turn the paper, and start on the new line without lifting the scissors.

At this age, children typically learn to fold a sheet of paper in half, with the edges meeting fairly accurately.

Since they now learn to visualise how four lines of the same length can be connected to create a square, they will start to use more squares in their art such as buildings without a roof and clothes for people. 

 

Tip: Spatial abilities 

It is important for young children to play with toys such as wooden blocks, construction sets, puzzles, board games and pegboard games.

Research says children develop important spatial skills and their non-verbal intelligence gets a boost as they handle the loose components, turn them and rearrange them in different ways. 

Children whose parents reported that they play with these toys more than six times a week, have better spatial abilities compared to others who played with them only three to five times a week, or not at all. 

In addition to this, another team of researchers found that these learning experiences are even more valuable when adults, at times, play along and use language with lots of words that describe spatial concepts as they play.

Reference: Jirout, J. & Newcombe, N. (2015). Building Blocks for Developing Spatial Skills Evidence From a Large, Representative U.S. Sample. Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797614563338

 

 

 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] is using free play to discover patterns and traits in the world

58 Months Milestone

Free play is like love, sunshine and broccoli all juiced together

When young children play freely, they instinctively handle physical objects and use their bodies to do things that enable them to notice patterns and discover the attributes of things, so that they can learn more about their physical world.

This explains why they never grow tired of climbing into cosy spaces such as boxes and cupboards, and why they love building enclosures and tents. Psychologists say this need to “enclose and envelope” also drives them to constantly fill containers such as cups, bowls and purses with nearby objects. 

Young children also love to place their bodies in special positions as they play, so that they can view the world from an alternative perspective. They instinctively want to get into interesting positions by hiding under furniture, hanging upside down from jungle gyms, looking at the world through a magnifying glass and climbing high.

Limit screen time 

To maximize its owner’s chances of survival and save energy, a young developing brain wires itself to only respond to the demands that are placed on it. This explains why children, who only have interactions with adults who speak Italian, won’t learn any English. Furthermore, children who only play ball with their parents or teachers will develop ball skills and not swimming skills. 

Children acquire some skills through experiences

Children need certain experiences to acquire the skills they need for school readiness, sports and in life.

  1. Children need a sense of emotional security. When children do not experience enough loving interaction with the important people in their lives, their lower (emotional) brain regions are not in the right space. The resulting stress overwhelms their brains to the point where the higher, thinking regions switch off. This is known as “amygdala hijacking”.

 

  1. Children need a language rich environment. Betty Hart and Todd Risley reported that parents, who frequently have conversations with children, have three-year-olds with an average vocabulary of 1116 words, compared to 525 words of children whose parents do not really talk to them much. Another study, led by Dimitri Christakis, reported that the average number of words spoken in a household drops from 941 to 171 words when a television is switched on in the background.

 

  1. Children need space and opportunity to experiment with physical movement. This helps them to develop a good sense of timing, direction and body awareness. This includes where their body parts are, what they can do and how much space and pressure is needed for different movements. A lack of body awareness leads to a myriad of learning difficulties that impact negatively on reading, writing and understanding mathematical concepts later on.

 

  1. Children need to engage with people who help wire their thinking brains. Lev Vygotsky helped us to understand that children learn skills and develop a sense of identity when adults instinctively notice what they can do and then raise the bar slightly. This encourages them to practice new skills that are within reach. Teaching a child how to peel a banana, play nicely with a friend, or play snakes and ladders all fall into this category.

 

  1. Children need to play freely and express innate play patterns. Jean Piaget explained that children instinctively use their bodies and hands to transport, transform, propel, rotate, enclose, order, position, connect and disconnect physical objects as they play. These “schema explorations” of “play patterns” provide them with all the puzzle pieces they need for developing intellectually.

 

  1. Children need opportunities to master their world in practical ways. Maria Montessori said that children approach challenges in age-specific ways, and they have a natural tendency towards order and competence that drives them to master practical challenges and understand new concepts at their own, self-motivated pace. As they use their hands, their thought world expands. That’s how they learn to focus their attention to concentrate and move from concrete thinking to abstract reasoning. 

Watching TV is a sedentary activity that limits the learning environment that children need most. Therefore, it is best to limit time in front of the television. 

 

Tip: The value of fairy tales

Few parents read traditional fairy tales to pre-schoolers. However, a number of psychologists believe they are wonderful tools for preparing children for life. 

They believe that fairy tales incorporate drama, excitement, sadness, fighting and fears which in turn make it possible for children to face their own fears and other negative emotions on a symbolic level, without having to experience the feelings first hand.

Interestingly, fairy tales in story books are not scary to children because they filter how they visualise what they hear and see in the illustrations with their immature frame of reference. 

Those same stories would be scary on film, as the film visualises the story for the child.

Reference: Bruno Bettelheim, “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales”, Random House, (1976).

 

 

Event Name: [Child’s name]’s Nankid® Milestones

Event Description: [Child’s name] is developing conversation skills

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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