By Christine Marchant
If you have read my previous posts, you’ll notice that I have a system for teaching 5-W-H questions. Levels one through three deal with concrete who, what, where, when, why, and how questions, while level four is concerned with asking the child about what can happen in the future. It’s quite easy to teach the first two levels. When the child becomes more aware of their world, and isn’t easily entertained by the simple flash cards or photos, the teaching becomes more challenging. I find that they are now more interested in the games. I like to try plenty of new games to test the child’s interest and to see if the game will match the goal. We play the game at least three times with no target goals. This is how I build the interest and desire to play the game. The goal here is to create a strong desire to play the game. At this level, it’s the game and the interactions with the people that keep the child involved and wanting to cooperate. It doesn’t matter what the game is, as long as you explain to the child that the reason you are doing the sessions is to help the child achieve the targets. Hopefully, at this level, you’ve already created a relationship of trust and honesty. This is my favorite level of the relationship with the child because they are opened enough to actually understand why you are spending the time with them. They are usually enthusiastic about achieving their goals. I explain to the child that we play the game with no targets and then when we really enjoy the game we add the targets.
While playing the games, I use a LOT of WE, US, OUR, and TEAM WORK language to motivate the child and let her know that we are working together. The language you use will determine the attitude of the child. They LOVE to take ownership of their learning. By this level, they seldom resist doing their “work.” The games are now a fun way to make the sessions go faster. They may MOAN and GROAN or ROLL their eyes, and declare “you’re the meanest aide EVER!!” BUT, it’s all said in laughter and good cheer. If you have a good relationship with them, you play along, then say, “OK! Let’s get down to business, and get it done. ” If you don’t have a relationship with the child and are just jumping in, don’t start at this level!! If I were to start teaching the 5-W-H without knowing the child, I would ALWAYS start at a lower level and see where the child is, then move up the levels, in the same order, at the speed that matches the child. This level is based entirely on trust and a relationship with the child.
Teaching what happens after is the trickiest part for children because it requires abstract thinking. It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future. The future is difficult because it can be any possibility. The past now seems more concrete than the future because it’s easier to prove. If you have one of those children that LOVE to argue and declare that a dragon has super powers and can possibly run for government in the future, LET IT GO!!!! Don’t argue with the child, but try to remember the goal! At this point, the goal is opening their minds to future possibilities, not to debate what the future actually can be (natural consequences will take care of that). Here is my method:
1) Find books and tons of photos that show a ton of details. I use books, flash cards, random photos, even advertisement photos.
2) Bring out their favorite game and lay the photos beside the game.
3) At this level, the child already knows the expectations.
4) Start the game. The first player looks at the picture and describes what she sees. This is important because this gives the story as they see it. It’s concrete, so use concrete language like “the people are in the boat”, “the dog is in the water”, or “the waves are huge”.
5) All the players look at the picture, then agree or disagree with the player’s description.
6) The player then says what the possible future may be. Using the language, “I think the waves will push the boat over”, “I think they will rescue the dog”, or “I think the people in the boat will be beamed up by aliens”. It doesn’t matter what the child says. The goal is not to correct the child’s idea of the future. The goal is to have the child be flexible in their thinking. If it’s dark, you can leave it, or have your version of the future when it’s your turn. Do NOT correct the child during their turn. It’s their turn and you can damage the relationship if you are constantly correcting the child on their turn. Save that for another goal, at another time.
7) When the child is finished predicting, the turn is over and they take their turn playing the game. Often by this level, the interest can be more into the predicting than playing the game. If the child wants to go on and on with their predictions, let them because the game is not the goal. This does not go on for hours. Whenever you choose to teach a target, you choose the system and how long it will last. You can set the expectation as an open ended game, which is with a timer, or closed ended one, which is with the number of turns.
8) I alternate between the open and closed ended. We seldom ever finish the game at this level, which is not a big deal.
9) Never let the game go for more than ten minutes for the very young, and fifteen for the older children. Put on the timer, and when it goes off, you say, “Do you want the game to be over?” or “Do you want to play for another ten or fifteen minutes?”.
10) If they choose game over, you can smile and say it was a fun game. If they choose to play, set the timer. If they want more, you tell them that you will play it at the next session, and then keep your word.
This is the end of sharing how I teach 5-W-H questions. In the future, I will share the different approaches I take. The system always stays the same, but the approach and materials change. As I said in earlier posts, I’m not a therapist or have formal education in teaching. I am a mom for thirty-one years and have lots of experience with children from parenting and running a private day home for twenty years. I was also a nanny in between and during doing those jobs. I have also been a child development facilitator for five years. I hope you enjoyed my posts, and found at least one tip to help you teach the 5-W-H questions!
By Christine Marchant
I am sharing my experiences as a mom for 30 years, a Day Home Provider for 20 years, and a Child Development Facilitator for 5 years. The first post in this series was sharing the first basic level of how to teach the 5-W-H questions, which are “who, what, where, when, why how” to a child. If you read my earlier post, you would have read one of the ways I taught the 5-W-H questions. There are MANY different ways to teach it. This is only one of the ways I found to be successful. If the child doesn’t have that basic level of understanding, trying to teach any higher level is possible, but is more difficult. Exposing the child to “social thinking” is a tricky thing to teach…. Ok, it actually isn’t. I was finding it complicated, until I realized that I’ve been doing it for years. Today, I have chosen one of the many ways. I decided to stay with the formula I wrote about previously.
Level two deals with more abstract ideas and requires a little more effort and preparing than level one. It is important to pick one system or formula and stay with it throughout the whole journey. Children like patterns and like to know what is expected and it’s more consistent. When choosing what approach you will take, you need to know what type of learner the child is and what will keep their attention. An active learner prefers games and action and a passive learner enjoys worksheets, using dry erase pens, etc. The next important step is to assess what level the child is. ALWAYS teach at the child’s level. The next step is to always teach responsibly. No one knows what someone else is feeling or thinking etc. This is why it drives me CRAZY when I see an adult saying, “what is the boy thinking?” or “What is he feeling?” or “where is the boy?”. The first level, you can do this. It’s concrete, and that the level the child is. After that, I prefer to say, “What do you suppose the person is thinking?” I try not to tell the child that a picture is a boy or girl. I try not to label the gender, but instead follow the lead of the child. If the child insists the child in a dress is a boy, I don’t correct him or try to convince him it is a girl. (I gloss over it) because It’s not my place to enforce my opinion on to the children. Keep the goal in mind!! We are teaching 5-W-H not genders.
I found looking at simple photos and asking the 5-W-H questions gets stale FAST! The child gets bored easily. They are very clever. Not all the 5-W-H questions are relevant to every photo. I prefer photos with LOTS of details and actions. Sometimes all questions are not applicable to every photo. My favorite way to teach is through books. I go to a thrift store and for $1, I buy books with a lot of expressions and emotions. I glue blank paper over ALL of the typing. YES! Deface that book! Then I look at each page and type out my own 5-W-H questions that are relevant to what the picture is showing. This sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I just glue on the level I’m currently teaching. I then add more questions as the child achieves their goals. I start one level at a time. You can use the same book for the entire journey. Don’t put all the levels at once. In level 2, we are exposing the child to “what is the person thinking” and “what is the person feeling.” You can use different books, every child has different interests. You can put your books in your tool box and pull out different books, as long as you stay with the same system. Keep the “thinking” questions to the left page and the “feeling” questions to the right page. Stay consistent. This comes in handy when you have an active learner. I will describe the games I use for my active learners at a later date.
Here is an example of the book I made this week for my older child:
I covered the original story, and I typed “thinking” questions on the left page.
What do you suppose the Mom is thinking?
What do you suppose the child is thinking ?
Why do you suppose the Mom is thinking?
Why do you suppose the child is thinking?
Who else may be thinking ?
Where do you suppose they are?
When do you suppose this is happening ?
How can you tell Mom is thinking?
How can you tell the child is thinking?
You can talk about their expressions, or how the body is showing what they may be thinking. Look! The Mom’s eyes are large and round, her hands are in the air, etc. What do you think she’s thinking about? Etc. Then on the right page, I typed “feeling” questions.
What do you think the Mom is feeling?
What do you think the child is feeling?
Who else may be feeling?
Why do you think the Mom is feeling?
Why do you think the child is feeling?
Where do you suppose this is happening ?
When do you suppose this is happening ?
How can you tell Mom is feeling?
How can you tell the child is feeling?
There are no right or wrong answers. I use this as a conversation starter and encourage a discussion or even debate about what the character is feeling. As we go along the journey, this easy going approach has the child feeling good and positive about sharing ideas and debating each person’s opinions etc. This teaches the child that other people have their own thoughts and feelings and they are sometimes different than what the child believes.
At the first glance, it looks like it isn’t teaching social thinking. “Ask your Mom, how are you.” “Ask your brother why he is crying,” etc. I found the child wasn’t able to do that in a genuine inquiry. They ask that because they are taught to ask those questions. You take a book, and you are ‘discovering’ these questions. There are no right or wrong questions and answers, but a genuine conversation happens. It is an exchange of ideas. The child’s awareness blooms and they are genuinely interested in the people and things around them.
The next post will be sharing my experiences in teaching the 5-W-H before and after the picture we are looking at. Exposing the child to an even deeper level of thinking about what could have happened earlier to cause this person to be thinking___ or feeling____.
By Simran Saroya
Outdoor is essential in a child’s life just as fruits and vegetables are. Natural elements incorporated into a child’s play is very important, it allows them to start understanding this world and how it works as well as build knowledge. Allowing the child to play outdoors will strengthen muscle strength and coordination, allow for deeper exploration and help them gain self-confidence.
Sometimes we think that a playground MUST be present for a child to have fun. In reality, a child can have fun in any environment with almost anything. From swinging on the swing and gaining a new perspective to digging in the dirt and analyzing the world around them. By adding additional equipment for your child to use outdoors you are adding to their learning through play but it is not necessarily needed.
Through this exciting process it was always nice to have someone accompany them. Having a buddy while discovering new things always make things more exciting. Being present and engaged with the child is a fun way to help your child learn new skills and information. An adult being present to answer their curious questions will allow the child to deeper understand the concept and build/ strengthen your relationship. There are six crucial benefits to keep in mind when your child wants to play outside.
- Building Social Skills
- Being Creative
- Exploring New Environments
A child playing alongside peers or adults is co-learning and co-imagining which actually helps with building social skills and benefits their learning. Acorns may just look like acorns to us adults but to a child it could be food play or a treasure, you never know what their little minds will come up with. Roleplay is the most common way a child mimics the adults around them. This behavior is having them use their imaginative and creative side to come up with these scenarios. Using their imagination allows them to be creative and explore further and deeper into their play. Playing outside also has long term health benefits such as reduction of stress, regulation of the body and vitamin D consumption.
Now, you may be stuck with the question “How do I get my child to play outside?”.
In the world of technology today it is getting harder and harder to get their minds less engaged in screens and more engaged in the natural environments. Some ideas I can suggest include the following: to have a picnic, draw with chalk, turn on the sprinklers, go find some treasure or even ride bicycles together or with a friend. The chilly winter shouldn’t’ stop you either! In the winter the child can build snowmen, snow angels and paint the snow. Summer or winter, the child will find something to do outdoors regardless of the situation. Being prepared for the weather is the adult’s job, let the children do the rest.
Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!