Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dishing out Directionality

Week 4 heralded our first Motor Skill week of Term 3... exciting stuff because of course the physio in me always loves an excuse to get the kids MOVING in different ways. The skill this week was Directionality which is what helps children understand the space around them. Earlier in the year we learnt about laterality, which is the understanding that our bodies have two sides, left and right, now it is time to take this internal awareness and apply it the world around us. Applying internal spatial awareness to external surroundings will help our children identify where things are and and where they are in relation to these things.

In order for our smaller Head Starters to start practicing directionality our parents/grandparents had to exercise their oral language skills by providing verbal explanations throughout the class, for example "well done, you are crawling through the tunnel", "good job, you are hiding behind the slide". By providing this feedback we were able to draw the little ones' attention to their position in space in relation to objects around them. Try this at home by taking every opportunity to use 'direction' oriented language such as, in/out/up/down/through/under/over/behind/between/beside etc. Using props such as toys, trucks, food etc can be a good way to help initiate these conversations too.

For the older bunch we took the directionality a bit further and added sign-posted directions to our obstacle course to get them thinking about moving left/right/up/down/through/around etc. To make it a bit more challenging we threw some motor movement signs into the mix too so the kids were doing things like skipping up the ramp, walking in baby steps along the beam and jumping backwards onto the beanbag...I told you that I love the see this bunch MOVING!!

On a slightly different note, we had a great session with our ADORABLE Puku Playdate babies this week. The focus for these wee ones was Tummy Time activities and how to make this fun and easy at home...there were even a few smiles when they were on the swiss balls and checking themselves out in the mirror!! I will pop a picture up later in the week of the babies doing their best 'Speckled Frog' impression over our bolster/log - cute!

So everyone, get your best direction-words going and see what you can come up with this week. Remember to tune back in next week to see how our next visual skill goes down in week 5.
Till then, keep smiling! Lizz & the Head Start Team

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Auditory Sequential Memory workout

What a crazy week 3! It started with a snowy blizzard that managed to close pretty much the whole city down, including Head Start classes on Monday unfortunately. Those that could escape from their houses on Tuesday came down for a much needed run around, and I can tell you that there was some SERIOUS cabin fever going on.

This week was all about practicing Auditory Sequential Memory which is the ability to remember things heard in sequence. This helps with other tasks such as learning to spell, repeating number sequences and recalling events. Obviously this is an important skill for us adults, its always good to be able to remember that list of things your better half asked you to do (even if it was during the sports news.....). So it is never to early to start practicing this auditory skill.

Our littlest Head Starters listened carefully to our Gibber Gabber game and some even started to mimic the crazy noises back proving that they were retaining that weird auditory sequential information! Try it at home and see how you get on, all you need to do is make up some weird noises and encourage your little one to say them back to you, trust me, the weirder the better, eg. meep meep meep. screech screech boop... how long a sequence can you come up with?!

We also read thru some classic fairytales and used picture cards to see if the kids could remember what they had heard and re-create the story - Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Bears were definite hits! Our older kids listened carefully to number sequences and tried to remember what they had heard to make the same sequence on the whiteboard.

This auditory skill is something that we are actually encouraging often by asking our little people to follow basic instructions during their day. Try to remember to keep the instructions short and concise to start with and as your child develops you can make the instructions longer and more complex. To start with just 2 stage instructions are a good idea to keep it achievable - your child will love the praise you offer when they succeed! For the older kids you can practice by asking them to recall what they did over the day or play games like calling out a number sequence or a letter sequence to see what they can remember, this is also a great way to start with basic maths and spelling - fridge magnets are a great resource for this and might help to keep little minds busy while you are sorting out the tea!

Next week we have our first motor skill of Term 3 - Directionality...its a great excuse to get even more creative with our equipment course so tune back in next week for an update and some photos.
Keep smiling till then, x Lizz & the Head Start team.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Memories of Visual Memory Week

Welcome back Head Start followers! We have finished week 2 of Term 3 and it was jam packed full of new resources for our little ones to explore. This week we covered the skill of Visual Memory...a good one for us oldies to polish up on too actually.

Visual memory is the ability to make a vivid visual image in your mind of a visual stimulus, such as a word, a picture or a series of objects, and once that stimulus is removed, be able to visualize or recall this image without help. Think about how often you utlisise this skill in your everyday life - remembering a phone number you wrote down earlier or trying to remember what those new shoes looked like that you wanted to buy in town! For the littlies this skill will help them to remember which letters are which, especially important for those that look very similar such as b's and d's! This is a practical skill that is needed for many facets of everyday life and it's never to early to start practicing it!

Our littlies had a great time trying to find the hidden elephant from under tins...they became very adept at watching carefully to make sure they didn't get tricked when the tins moved around. There were also some pretty cute squeals of joy when the successfully uncovered the elephant - CUTE!

Things got a bit more challenging for our Ready kids (although the elephant hunt was a hit with these guys too) as they got busy in the ball pit playing our Search and Rescue game, looking at a visual cue and then searching for the corresponding picture in the pool...Dora and Car's characters were a crowd pleaser!

Our Steady kids worked on their visual memory playing Hide and Seek with figurines under a scarf - they carefully paid attention to see which figure would 'magically' disappear each time.

Things ramped up even more for the Go crowd. They got busy viewing picture series cards and repeating what they had seen back and also spent time re-creating patterns with blocks and sticks to copy what they had seen before.

These are all great ideas to re-create at home and I am sure that you can all come up with some more challenging tasks of your own, we are always interested to hear your ideas so feel free to post any of your favourites on our Facebook wall!!

Next week we have loads more fun in store as well as heaps of new resources so check back in for an update and ideas of how you can continue the fun at home.
Till then, have a great weekend and look after each other.
x Lizz & the Head Start team

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Just an update on our upcoming free seminar.

We are pleased to host Wendy Perera, an educational consultant for Teeny Tiny Consultants (www.teenytiny.co.nz) as she guides us though the stages of development and how you can support your child. She will present a variety of hand picked quality resources to support your child's life long love of learning.

This evening will provide information about child development and selection of appropriate toys, books and games for children from birth to 8 years of age.

Thursday 18 August, 7.30pm. Head Start = 350 South Road Caversham.

Not to be missed!! Please RSVP to 487 9698. All Welcome, spread the word and bring your friends!

x Lizz and the Head Start team.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Term 3 kicks off!

Welcome back Head Start blog-readers! This week kicked off Term 3 here at Head Start and so far it has been fun-packed.

The first week of term is an introductory session to give our newest Head Starters a chance to get acquainted with the environment and to let our returning Head Start kids get back into the groove of classes. With so many seasoned pro-s in the classes now it was all go from the start!

This week also marked the launch of our Puku Playdate sessions....Oh My how we forget how little babies are to start with!! Once the general clucking was over with we had a wonderful time introducing our littlest Head Start members to the joy of music and movement. We also ran through some baby massage techniques and put the Mum's to work doing some post-natal exercises. I didn't take it personally that some of the babies couldn't keep their eyes open for the entire class (in fact maybe that is a complement!). We have loads in store for this class in the upcoming weeks including tummy time activities, ideas for toys, tips for storytime, pictures for visual development and much much more. It is going to be great fun, so if you know of anyone keen to join us on Monday mornings at 10.15am we would LOVE to hear from them!
My other new adventure for the week was delving into the world of the Head Start GO class...we have a new session on Mondays so I am now lucky enough to have a class with these great kids. This class has a real literacy and numeracy focus and it was great to see the GO kids sink their teeth into some really tricky activities, whilst still having a ball on the obstacle course!

On that note - make sure to pop Thursday 18 August into your diaries. We are hosting a FREE seminar on Developing Literacy and Numeracy in the Early Years. It will be presented by childhood specialist Wendy Perera who is a consultant for Teeny Tiny consultants. You can check out their great work at www.teenytiny.co.nz. RSVP to 487 9698 if you can join us on the 18th, 7.30pm at Head Start (350 South Road, Caversham).

Till next week's excitement of Auditory Association...keep smiling!
x Lizz & the Head Start team