In the middle of all the debate on distance learning in secondary and higher education, a very important population sector is absent from conversation in America on learning during the pandemic: babies and toddlers.
Many parents are not taking their children to parks, playgroups, and nursery schools. As a result, the Opportunities for younger children to learn and socialize have been diminished, like everyone else’s.
Those who work with young children and study their development worries that children are not ready to go to school and the effects that I may have in the learning.
“There is going to be a little collective lag in academic skills and executive functions that allow a child to navigate a classroom more easily, ”he predicted Aliza W. Pressman, developmental psychologist.
Without group settings, “we still have a lot of observations to do, so there will be a whole series of problems,” he said. Patricia K. Kuhl, co-director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, Seattle campus. In part that is because Group settings, such as day care centers, classrooms, and even parks, are often the places where, by comparing children with their peers, adults find out whether youngsters have cognitive, sensory, motor, or learning problems that could be remedied with early interventions.
Kuhl is in charge of the type of brain studies that place a magnetoencephalography machine $ 2.5 million – which looks like a “Martian hair dryer,” as she puts it – on the heads of young children to map your neural activityeven while babies are awake and fussy.
And that’s the kind of science that Pressman, through the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, of which she is a co-founder, tries to translate into practical tools and guidance online, in individual work with children or with groups of caregivers, teachers and pediatricians. .
The work of both women has become more urgent during the pandemic.
In recent months, Pressman has served, and helped, families to innovate in their way of offering their young children more interaction, education, and learning opportunities Through the game.
For many families, that innovation has consisted of reconsider screen time and use of digital spaces, which used to be taboo for babies and young children.
The programs of places how Apple Seeds, a set of indoor play areas based in New York and early childhood programs, they have been very successful among parents. The company had to close its facilities this spring. Before long he transformed the show into the most popular persona, a interactive music program called Songs for Seeds, in a proposal with live sessions of Zoom of 45 minutes several times a week, at a cost of $ 25 per month.
This fall, on a Wednesday morning, Lizzy and Kit Benz took a makeshift stage in front of a curtain that concealed the kitchen of their home in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria; there was a keyboard and a guitar.
“Can we clap to the beat of the music? Let’s clap and march! ”They sang to begin the program of original songs and dialogue with the audience. The duo cheered on the children, calling them by name, to tell the color and shape of objects, count and make sounds and movements of animals.
It might not sound like a big deal, but Seeing babies and young children enjoying music as part of a program like Songs for Seeds and the like is living the theory that you learn by playing.
“Manipulating objects like musical instruments helps motor skills“, He said Alison Qualter Berna, co-founder of Apple Seeds. Added that move around and make animal sounds at the same time implies the use of two parts of the brain simultaneously, something that promotes neural network connections; shape recognition is a precursor to alphabet and handwriting recognition; identifying colors helps young children describe their world in words, Y understanding numbers is the foundation of mathematical thinking.
For younger children like 17-month-old Sloane Stephens, the most basic lesson is to do the same as everyone else. Dressed in a The Rolling Stones T-shirt, Sloane chewed on her pacifier and clapped her hands all the time with obvious joy.
“There are other shows like ABC Mouse, Khan Academy for Kids and HomerBut the problem is, those start at 2 years old, ”said Sloane’s mom, Maya Sharan-Stephens. “So children are in this rare intermediate stage, between 1 and 2 years old, where they may not yet develop motor skills, recognition of colors and shapes; it is difficult for them ”.
Since the spring, Sloane’s family has relied on Songs for Seeds, as well as the local public library in Greenwich, Connecticut, which, like many libraries around the world, offers online puppet shows, storytelling, and children’s songs. .
With the objective of foster a sense of discovery and “solve problems, wait for your turn and take on other perspectives” that arise in situations such as “dealing with that moment in the park where you are getting on the slide, but another child wants to jump”, Pressman advises letting children play without being told what to do.
In some homes, that may mean letting kids “use garages, backyards, basements, or attics to find opportunities to explore,” Pressman said. If children run into obstacles, let them navigate them on their own, even conflicts with their siblingsAlthough “if you have to intervene, help them communicate,” he said.
But bath time, meal time, diaper change, and dressing are the best opportunities for infants and young children. “It is in those moments of care that the interactions that most drive brain development occur“Pressman said. In order to contribute to that, she collaborates with the nonprofit Vroom and Healthynest, a company that develops baby products, to provide parents with free tools and ideas that will make the most of those moments. .
Further, little ones are likely to benefit from spending more time at home with their parents during the pandemic. That’s because a secure attachment is the main foundation for brain and language development.
“In fact, we may see that their language improves from the time they spend at home with their primary caregivers,” Pressman said. “In a way, babies are living their best life.”
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