Written by Sandy Vicars, Parent Educator
On Saturday, April 10th, several families joined us through Zoom as we kicked of Week of the Young Child. As we began this weeklong celebration, one of our goals was to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to promote high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8. Arizona’s Children Association’s Parents as Teachers Program highlights a child’s most important teachers, their parents or main caregivers. The events and activities we promoted provided opportunities for parents to engage and connect with their children to support early learning. As parents and caregivers, you can utilize the weekly activities all year long to keep your children active and learning!
We encourage families to sing, dance and listen to music together for “Music Monday.” One favorite dance activity is the Freeze Dance. Put on your favorite music and move! When you pause the music, everyone freezes as they are. Who has the funniest pose? Who can stay frozen till the music starts again? Restart the music and keep going! Grab a microphone and sing along. No microphone? Make one! Grab an empty paper towel tube, aluminum foil, a small ball or wad of facial tissue and some tape. Voila! You are ready to perform! Believe it or not, your child is developing language and early literacy skills as well as being active!
Make cooking together on “Tasty Tuesday” healthy and fun! Pull out traditional family recipes or create new ones. Bake bread together! Open the fridge and see what’s on hand. Hmmm celery, cream cheese or peanut butter, and raisins. You have all the makings of ants on a log! Not only do you have a healthy, delicious treat, your child is learning math, literacy skills, science, and more! Bon appetit!
Work Together Wednesday
As a child, did you ever build a fort out of blankets, pillows and sofa cushions? Did it ever come tumbling down? “Work Together Wednesday” is all about being and building together. Through building, children explore math and science concepts and when you do it together, children are developing problem solving and social skills. Don’t forget books and a flashlight to add early literacy skills to the mix as well.
Time to get messy! On “Artsy Thursday,” celebrate the joy and learning children experience when engaged in creative art making. Finger painting is a great activity for young children. Don’t have any paint on hand? Try this simple recipe. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together 4 cups water, 1 cup cornstarch, 6 tablespoons white sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat. Separate mixture in to different containers, one for each color. A muffin tin works great for this! Use a toothpick to mix in food coloring and stir until desired color is reached. Let cool and then let the fun begin! When creating, the process is more important than the outcome! Talk about the feel of the paint and the colors your child is using. If they ask, “do you like it?” be careful to not judge the work. Point out details that are interesting and ask questions. For example, “I see you used lots of red. Is that your favorite color?”
To wrap up the week, we celebrate “Family Friday.” Share old family traditions and come up with new ones that involve all members of the family. Create a family tree with pictures of family members, including family the children hardly or never see. Create a family quilt out of paper. Have each family member draw a memory or picture of a favorite toy. Connect the papers with tape, yarn, string or ribbons to make a quilt. Spending time together and learning about your family’s history, culture and beliefs connects the past, the present, and the future. Share your hopes and dreams for you and your children. Children learn so much from their parents.
Looking for more ideas and activities like Week of the Young Child? Learn more about our Parents as Teachers program.
AzCA’s Parents as Teachers Program
Our Parents as Teachers program is an internationally recognized, strengths based, evidence-based parenting education, and support program. Parents as Teachers is a home visitation program designed to help new and experienced parents from pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten. Research indicates that the early years are crucial to laying the foundation for children’s life successes. We believe that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers.
Through AzCA’s Parents as Teachers program, parents are supported during home visits. The program focuses on strengthening parenting behaviors, including nurturing, designing/guiding, responding, communicating and supporting learning.
A nurturing parent provides a safe base, uses a warm tone and allows their child to make mistakes without criticism. When a parent has reasonable expectations and establishes family routines they are demonstrating, designing and guiding skills. As parents master development-centered skills, the result is better child well-being.
To learn more about our Parents as Teachers program, please email FESS@arizonaschildren.org.