Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 4

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!

 

 

Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 3

By Christine Marchant

If you read my previous posts, you’d notice that I have a system to teaching the 5-W-H questions.

By the time the child has surpassed level two and is ready for level three, he is not impressed with the ‘preschool’ attempts.  The magnetic fishing and the Caribou games no longer hold his interest.  Using basic pictures will often bore him to death!  There is no right or wrong way to teach, but the best way is to match your system to the child’s learning style.  It is important to observe if the child is an active or passive learner.  The active learner loves games and action. The passive learner prefers work sheets, scrabble and card games etc.  I have watched many therapists teach the 5-W-H questions to children.  Most of them are for younger children, I have had a few older children that are a bigger challenge.  The little children are happy with ANY game you come up with, while the older ones are more tricky.  With the older children, I find just saying: “this is our target—this is what we are doing and when we are finished, then you can play your game” is the more effective.  We set up their favorite game, then we do “target” then your turn, “target” then your turn.  My rules are that we do two cycles of “target’ games, then we do one game “free style” game.  Free style is playing the game any way the child wants to.  It’s ok if the child rigs it for them to win EVERY TIME!   I don’t care!  Just get the child hooked.

Teaching before and after is often a challenge.  It’s vague and abstract thinking.  It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future.  That’s why I teach “before” first.

1) Find books or photos that show a TON of details in each photo.  I use books, flash cards, and random photos saved on to my Ipad.

2) I bring out their favorite game, then the photos.

3) At this level, the child is already hooked into the program.  The first player looks at the photo, and describes what is in the photo, then says what he thinks might have happened just before this photo.

4) The other players can agree or disagree.  This opens an interesting conversation.

5) Follow the same pattern that I shared in the previous posts:

What do you suppose happened before the girl fell off her bike?

Who do you suppose she was with?

Why do you suppose she fall off the bike?

Where do you suppose she was?

When do you suppose this happened?

How did we come up with the “before” information?

6) When all players are satisfied with the answers, the player takes their turn.

7) By providing their favorite game, the child is usually motivated to do the “work”.

8) Sometimes, at this level, the child finds it difficult and tries to avoid the “work”.  If this happens, just sit quiet and say, first we do the “target” then you can play the game. The desire to play usually is enough.

I find it very rewarding to see the children go on this journey.  I love seeing the look of amazement and understanding in their eyes as they become more aware of their world.  I decided in high school that I wanted to work with children and I’ve enjoyed every year.  I have one more post on this topic, which involves teaching “after” and then I move on to teaching other aspects of language.

The Importance of Outdoor Play

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. 

  1. Learning 
  1. Building Social Skills 
  1. Being Creative 
  1. Health 
  1. 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 adults job, let the children do the rest. 

 Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!